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Ask Slashdot: Good, Useful Free Software For Gifts?

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the lump-of-coal-doesn't-fit dept.

Christmas Cheer 377

First time accepted submitter Jeng writes "I'm planning on sending flash drives to friends and family as stocking stuffers. Rather than just send a blank drive, I'm looking for what good useful free software that I can load on it — from system utilities and encryption software to fun little games." We've asked similar questions before, but software keeps getting better, and so do the prices on flash drives. So what would you give as a gift this holiday season?

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Happy Holidays from the Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105692)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Bootable USB (1, Interesting)

Bertrand Wilmot (2495654) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105696)

Bootable BSD or Linux on USB.

Re:Bootable USB (4, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105742)

Bootable BSD or Linux on USB.

I'd suggest Ubuntu, with a "readme.txt" written for those who will plug it into their Windows box.

Give them a text list of apt-get commands and tell them all the software was pirated :P

Re:Bootable USB (4, Insightful)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105808)

Then they mess up their computer trying to install it, probably destroying all their personal files in the process. What a nice xmas gift. :P

Re:Bootable USB (2, Informative)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105824)

> I'd suggest Ubuntu, with a "readme.txt" written for those who will plug it into their Windows box.

And make sure you give them WUBI instead of expecting someone new to Free Software to be willing to figure out repartitioning. Sure it doesn't perform quite as well, but the benefits balance out for new users.

Re:Bootable USB (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105872)

Yes. Wubi is a great way to allow people to "jump right in" to the whole Linux/Free Software world with no messy installation phase.

Re:Bootable USB (1)

Bertrand Wilmot (2495654) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106158)

I think DSLinux would be more appropriate, especially if you're not sure how fast the computer you're plugging into might be. It's straightforward and comes with useful/practical applications.

Re:Bootable USB (3, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106178)

Yeah, there's a great suggestion. Give them Ubuntu, so they can try out Unity, see what a piece of shit it is, and never look at Linux again.

I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated them. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105902)

A few years ago, I gave my friends and family gifts like this. They each got a 256 MB USB stick with Firefox, Thunderbird, OpenOffice.org and some other open source software I thought they might find useful. Well, they didn't appreciate it at all.

Right after getting it, one of my nieces threw it back at me, calling it useless, and then she called me a "nerd ass faggot". I found out later that her brothers deleted everything on theirs without even bothering to try them.

My older relatives had no idea at all what they were. Some of them thought they were supposed to put them on their keychains, as decorations!

I'm not sure who, but some of my relatives didn't even bother to bring them home with them after they left the Christmas gathering. I found several of them lying on the floor after everyone had left for the night.

I hoped it would be a learning experience for them, but it was really a learning experience for me. Most people don't give a fuck about open source software. They just don't care. And they surely don't want to receive it as a gift.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105970)

*Anonymous bro hug*.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (1)

anglico (1232406) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106246)

OMG I wish I had mod points...literally 2 days after they expire and you do this! That was so perfect, anonymous or not!

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105980)

"nerd ass faggot"

you have a family of cunts.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105998)

I don't believe you, but the story is plausible.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (4, Interesting)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106212)

I don't think I believe him either; the general gist of the story sounds plausible, but the details make it seem fabricated, especially the bit about the "nerd ass faggot", people leaving them lying on the floor, etc. Unless this guy comes from an incredibly rude family, most people are polite enough to accept gifts as-is, and if they don't like them keep their mouth shut and dispose of the gift later. One kid not being polite is certainly believable (kids haven't learned all their manners yet), but multiple adults? Doubtful. Moreover, he didn't say what year this was, but I'd assume that at that time, 256MB USB drives were considered decently large. If someone gave me a 2GB USB drive (today considered fairly small) loaded with pirated Windows software, for instance, even though I have no use for Windows software I'd still take the USB drive and just erase it and use it for my own purposes. You can never have too many of those things.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106032)

Well, they do say that a good gift should cost you a lot (to show how much you care about the recipient) while being of as little actual value as possible (because otherwise it could be a bribe).* Free software is pretty much the opposite.

* I confess that if people give me gifts like I prescribe, I usually get a bit cross. But I've experienced time and again that other people do tick the way I describe. It's a mystery.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (1)

WorBlux (1751716) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106122)

Ouch, what a nice niece. Should have loaded it up with SNES games.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (3, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106204)

Which is why you give them on CDs or not at all.

And really, this is a pretty self serving gift so it's probably best not given at all.

Re:I gave gifts like this once. Everyone hated the (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106236)

Most people have no interest or even any idea about how the operating system works or even what they are doing when they access the internet. Don't bother with this idea, give them some idiotic thing that they will appreciate, such as a coupon for some junk food or something! :( Rob, Houston Texas

frosty piss! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105700)

it's no dumber (or less useful) than your usb-drive-full-of-free-software.

NO (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105710)

That will teach them bad habits....

MS Office 2010 Home edition (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105722)

*ducks*

Re:MS Office 2010 Home edition (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105734)

go to jail, do not collect $200, unless you earn more than 1mil/year in which case you should just donate 10k to your favorite charity and 90k to your favorite politicians.

Re:MS Office 2010 Home edition (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105812)

oops I missed the "free" part in the title, I just read it as "useful software for gift"

Hmm, it seems that if the recipient knows that the gift can be obtained for free with a two minute download, doesn't that automatically make it a suspect present, no matter how good or useful the software is? What a cheapskate! Seems like both giver and receiver should be looking for something where the going rate is at least 25 bucks, more if you can afford it.

-op

Re:MS Office 2010 Home edition (2)

tycoex (1832784) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105930)

You're missing the point, the flash drive is the gift. The pre-loaded software is just a bonus.

Re:MS Office 2010 Home edition (1)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106142)

I believe you mean MS Office 2010 Home Trial. You know, 'cuz it's free.

Re:MS Office 2010 Home edition (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106216)

And really free is still too expensive. Considering how much time I spend showing people how to use the broken interface they ought to be paying me to work around their poorly thought out ribbon crap.

Let's see: (5, Informative)

DangerOnTheRanger (2373156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105724)

Gaming:
  • SuperTuxKart
  • SuperTux (SVN trunk)
  • Warsow
  • Warzone 2100, maybe
  • Secret Maryo Chronicles

Graphics:

  • Inkscape
  • GIMP

Other stuff:

  • Python (2.6 or 2.7)
  • Transmission (the Bittorrent client)
  • Filezilla
  • Firefox or Chromium, if they don't use either already

Re:Let's see: (1, Insightful)

Hotweed Music (2017854) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105798)

Sorry, but that sounds like a really lame gift.

Re:Let's see: (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105820)

Seriously lame gift.

Who would be running Linux and wouldn't have Python installed, or a browser of their choice? Who would want rubbish opensource games they could download?

What is wrong with you guys.

Re:Let's see: (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105844)

Battle for Wesnoth
Tyrian 2000
Collection of ebooks via Project Gutenberg

That would keep someone out of trouble for a good while.

You took the words out of my mouth (2)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105876)

Inkscape

GIMP

Those were the first things that came to mind for me. I use Gimp at least once a week in my job, and Inkscape probably once a month. They are great tools for those who don't need the fanciest of plug-ins. I would bet that they are mature enough now that 90% of home users who think "I need photoshop and/or illustrator" could actually get by just fine with these tools instead.

And being as most home users know what they can do with the Adobe programs, but not specifically how to do it, they could be just as well off to learn these instead.

So indeed, save your relatives a few hundred dollars by giving them a flash drive with Inkscape and Gimp. Of course, they probably won't install them, but at least you tried.

Re:Let's see: (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105900)

I'm assuming all that's to go with a bootable Ubuntu (with no swap drive)? You can get a 16gig usb drive for around £14.

Re:Let's see: (1)

DangerOnTheRanger (2373156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106050)

That's certainly possible, but all the programs I listed work on Windows as well, so it's not strictly necessary.

Re:Let's see: (4)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105966)

Transmission is one of the worse bittorrent client available. Might as well just have them use a command line utility with the gui available in Transmission.
Never been a fan of gimp either, it it both too complicated and bloated for a simple paint replacement and does not have enough features to replace Photoshop.
For torrents you need uTorrent or its far crappier linux brother ktorrent.
and then for windows at least:
rename master
7-zip
agent ransack
chrome
Infra Recorder
Notepad++

And then for games I would recommend emulators and roms.
Dosbox, scummvm, Snex9x
And you could probably set up all of them to work directly from the drive (linux and windows both, since the emulators are all pretty small) with the games pre-installed.

I would recommend focusing on the games and picking something personally from you and not just 10,000 roms you found in a torrent.
Because for the apps at least either the receiver is technically savvy enough they he should already be able to find good software if he needs it or will not appreciated being able to search faster and better (agent ransack).

Re:Let's see: (2)

CmdrPony (2505686) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106002)

So, you're telling him to him warez as a gift? I thought the point of giving open source was so it's legal.

Re:Let's see: (4, Insightful)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106036)

Roms don't have to be illegal, you just have a smaller number to choose from if you are looking for freeware roms.
But it is not like everyone does not already pirate roms, lets face it the consoles and the original games are no longer produced if you wanted to pay money for them you would only be paying some used games store owner not anyone involved in making the game in the first place anyways.
Now you can make a very good argument that the developers of the game deserve your money, but I have yet to hear one for the owner of the used store.

Re:Let's see: (2)

DangerOnTheRanger (2373156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106076)

Who cares if everyone already pirates ROMs? That doesn't make it legal. Freeware ROMs are legal of course, but most of the titles the recipients of this gift have heard of don't fall into this category.

Re:Let's see: (1)

wisnoskij (1206448) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106162)

Well I would imagine that picking games that recipients have not heard of might be a perk.
And in Alabama dominoes may not be played on Sunday by rule of law, but like abandon-ware that law is not and cannot be enforced therefore it is not really illegal. Note: obviously some companies are still around that hold the copyright to some of these abandon-ware games, so while no one has ever been prosecuted for abandoner-ware stealing it is theoretically possible.

Re:Let's see: (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106224)

I personally dump my own ROMs with retrode.org . Tends to work well and I don't have to worry about being busted for piracy.

Re:Let's see: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106136)

Transmission works perfectly fine.
ktorrent has nothing to do with utorrent, though I don't use ktorrent on kde (can't remember exactly why), I use transmission for QT.

Re:Let's see: (5, Interesting)

PerlJedi (2406408) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105982)

I'd add a few suggestions:

  • VLC [sourceforge.net]
  • XBMC [sourceforge.net]

Re:Let's see: (2)

DangerOnTheRanger (2373156) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106042)

Ooh, I forgot about VLC. Good thinking.

It's a ridiculous idea (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105740)

If you're arrogant enough to think that you're doing something for OTHERS by giving them things that represent your passion and "religious" devotion to open source, you're not likely to understand why, but this is a terrible idea. Give other people what THEY want, not what YOU think would be cool. This is an absurd idea.

Re:It's a ridiculous idea (4, Informative)

xs650 (741277) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105762)

Yup, I was thinking it was like giving someone a free Gideon's bible out of a hotel room.

ooh maybe we should put linux in hotel rooms (3, Funny)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105878)

the penguin king demands it, justin!

Re:It's a ridiculous idea (5, Interesting)

jmorris42 (1458) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105874)

> Give other people what THEY want, not what YOU think would be cool.

Oh bullpoop. The guy is giving out USB sticks. Very handy things for almost anyone to get in their stocking. He just wants to prepopulate em with some helpful stuff. Something you can't do with closed software but you can easily do with Free Software.

And yes, plenty of people give gifts based on their particular passion. Apple folk will tend to give out iProducts. Would they give one to somebody they KNOW isn't going to use it? Hopefully not, but a lot of people on their list would so they do. What is the difference?

Stick OO.o on there of course. And Firefox, Chrome, etc. And why not Gimp, Blender, and friends. All run Windows, why not spread em around. Will everyone use them? Probably not, but a few might and those that don't can just hit delete.

Re:It's a ridiculous idea (4, Insightful)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106230)

Exactly. If the guy was giving away copies of MS Office or Windows 7 or (insert popular game here), these people wouldn't be calling it "religious", but since it's OSS somehow it's different.

lots of options (4, Informative)

lister king of smeg (2481612) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105766)

well you can use a bootable USB of course, or you could use virtualization-on-a-stick, using qemu or portable virtual-box

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/using-a-portable-virtualbox-to-run-linux-from-usb/ [pendrivelinux.com]

http://www.pendrivelinux.com/run-a-live-linux-cd-from-within-windows/ [pendrivelinux.com]

or you could use portable app's projects off of sourceforge.

Pathetic (-1, Flamebait)

XPulga (1242) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105768)

If giving a cheap flash drive full of crap is your idea of a nice Christmas gift, then the best gift you can give to your family and friends is dying.

Re:Pathetic (4)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105828)

If giving a cheap flash drive full of crap is your idea of a nice Christmas gift, then the best gift you can give to your family and friends is dying.

He did say stocking stuffer. I don't know about your family but when I was growing up sometimes our stocking stuffers weren't worth nearly the cost of a flash drive. They'd often be filled with candy or small yo-yo-like toys. I think a flash drive is perfectly in line with that.

On the other hand, if you are of the habit of sending out $100 bills as stocking stuffers, I'll happily send you my mailing address and you can send some of your extra money to me.

Re:Pathetic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105920)

Agreed. This is a ridiculous Ask Slashdot. Why give people FOSS crap they can download on their own for free? Leave the flash drive in its package....

Tons of free games (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105778)

Works off a CD, DVD or USB flash drive. live.linuX-gamers.net [linux-gamers.net]

other bits to consider besides software (5, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105796)

How about a big collection of free music/ebooks/movies/art, etc? Maybe consider putting together a digital slideshow of photos and movies of family and friends, too.

Re:other bits to consider besides software (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105822)

How about a big collection of free music/ebooks/movies/art, etc?

Some hints:
* http://magnatune.com
* http://dig.ccmixter.org/
* http://archive.org/

Re:other bits to consider besides software (4, Insightful)

PsychoSlashDot (207849) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106046)

How about a big collection of free music/ebooks/movies/art, etc? Maybe consider putting together a digital slideshow of photos and movies of family and friends, too.

I think you're by far the most insightful in the discussion so far. I have to think that generally speaking, software that is useful (to the recipient) and free (available to the recipient already) is likely to be owned by the recipient. Sending people Firefox or Foxit Reader or 7Zip is pointless because either the don't have any clue how to or why to use it, or they already do. Yes, a generalization, but I suspect that loading up a bunch of software is just going to waste the recipient's time, forcing them to delete it all. On the other hand, MEDIA might be cool. And the time spent checking out Creative Commons (and other sources of) music and so on rewards the sender too. Everyone wins.

Re:other bits to consider besides software (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106154)

I think alot of people can enjoy these, which i believe are under creative commons licence:

Sita sings the blues (The person who made this is amazing)

and

Yes Men Save the World (All slashdotters have already seen this of course)

PortableApps (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105814)

If they are using Windows, I suggest the full collection of PortableApps from http://www.portableapps.com
It will runs directly from your flash drive and is really useful! :-)

Re:PortableApps (2)

KaoticEvil (91813) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106130)

That is exactly what I was going to suggest. Being that it's a Windows based program, it works natively, and has a nice little icon in the systray area, encouraging people to actually USE the programs on there. Not to mention, because, as you stated, it runs from the flash drive, everything the save (emails, Firefox profiles, etc.) is secure in case of system failure or a general Windows fuckup.

Re:PortableApps (1)

JohnSearle (923936) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106206)

I second this.

I use a number of their apps at work, where they have their systems locked down. I can use Notepad++ as my default editor, instead of IE7 I can use FF with extensions (adblock, greasemonkey, etc.), among other apps.

What I use (legally) (1)

mayberry42 (1604077) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105818)

I'd say add Ubuntu / Linux Mint (which people seem to really like, more so than Ubuntu it seems). Other software could be: TrueCrypt and KeePass for internet security, calibre for ebook management,Thunderbird for email and LibreOffice for office needs. While you're at it, Skype (full download) might be good as well - i always seem to need it at the most inopportune moment). This might be a bit of a cheat, but check out here [pcmag.com] . You know your friends, see for yourself what they might like from here and download accordingly.

Re:What I use (legally) (1)

xenoactive (582154) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105864)

I'll second the TrueCrypt and KeePass recommendation.

portable apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105826)

http://portableapps.com/

Just get one of those free packages. They work wonders :)

PortableApps (5, Informative)

CastrTroy (595695) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105834)

You should fill it full of stuff from PortableApps [portableapps.com] . Tons of great programs there. Plus they don't have to install anything. No worry about messing up their computer.

PortableApps (-1, Redundant)

flood78 (2511510) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105842)

If they are using Windows, I suggest the full collection of PortableApps from http://www.portableapps.com/ [portableapps.com] It will runs directly from your flash drive and is really useful! :-)

Humble Bundle and a donation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105848)

You can Buy/Donate in there name and give them some good games too.
Humble Bundle Games [humblebundle.com]
Or you can be cheap and just buy for very little and give the games to all your friends. :(

Amiga Forever, (1)

drfreak (303147) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105850)

baby! Once I got ahold of a copy of Nuclear War online and started playing it again, kids of all generations should get to play that!

uTorrent (1)

Dan East (318230) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105852)

uTorrent - the gift that keeps on giving.

congrats, you are now a distributor of crapware (0)

decora (1710862) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105862)

this is very similar to the conversation that marketing people have at Dell and Best Buy when figuring out what sort of useless garbage they can load on PCs they are selling to people.

Not worth it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105868)

Just give them usb sticks with copies of minecraft.
Seriously, no one wants an ubuntu usb stick that doesn't already know what ubuntu is.

To run off the drive... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105870)

Or not??
Are you just going to load the installers or do you want portable alps that will run directly off the drive itself?

FoxIt PDF reader
PC Wizard
KeyFinder
VLC
OpenOffice
IMGBurn
Spybot S&D
Firefox

Will all run straight off a USB stick

Have you tried a Goodwill store? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105892)

Not free but close to it, and it goes to a worthy cause. Yes, software. Clothing. All sorts of mostly-free. If you plead poverty, I'm sure you can walk out with a few free things, to boot. And isn't that what you want, after all?

A vastly underappreciated game (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105906)

Lovely game (if a bit gimmicky), fits on a flash drive, and entirely free: http://www.netstormhq.com/news.php

Duqu (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105908)

Send them loaded with Duqu, Stuxnet or something similar.

Sorta useful suggestion (4, Insightful)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105910)

I think the idea's a lil bland, I mean ... yay you put some free apps they could go get anyway.

But.... its' a stocking stuffer, let's have a little fun, right? Why not run around a few sites like Fail blog or LOLCats and find a big heap of funny pictures, and plunk em on the drive? That way they'll plug the drive in and have some fun zipping through those and having a few laughs. You could even throw in a folder family photos and give them something unique.

But if you're dead set on giving away apps, I can tell you I'd dig it if somebody took a flash drive and put Portable versions of Chrome, Opera, Firefox, a good mail client, and... well surprise me! I say 'portable' because if I don't have to install them, I'd definitely poke around and try them out.

Re:Sorta useful suggestion (1)

Tragek (772040) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105976)

I think the idea's a lil bland, I mean ... yay you put some free apps they could go get anyway.

Ditto: Results in Present Face [metacafe.com] .

Re:Sorta useful suggestion (4, Insightful)

FrootLoops (1817694) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106168)

yay you put some free apps they could go get anyway.

Most of the trouble of getting good free software is finding it, so I'd say the value of the software part of the gift is mostly as a list of suggestions one can conveniently test out.

A simple text file (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105940)

Just include a text file telling your friends not to put random flash drives in their computers. If you can't find such a text file, I suggest making one and releasing it under the GPH. Since this will probably offend them, you'll also need to get new friends. But who wants to be friends with people that run random things they get on a flash drive, anyway?

free or Free? (4, Interesting)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105950)

Just give them uTorrent - the gift that keeps on giving!

Seriously, though, are we talking about freeware or Free Open Source Software? There's a lot of great freeware out there; applications like Picasa, utilities like Piriform's set, games like Cave Story (a.k.a. Doukutsu Monotogari). I hope you're not ruling out closed source, since your friends and family really won't care about the difference.

Also, you should probably start by looking for popular downloads on sites like FileHippo, SourceForge, and even (groan) Download.com. There are also quite a few commercial games that were later released as freeware or free-to-play; Team Fortress 2 is a prime example.

Forget software, give 'em free videos. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105954)

2girls1cup.bdrip.720p.x264-g0atse.mkv and such.

Linux + Portable Windows Apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105964)

I have a USB key on my keychain that it split into two partitions:

Partition 1 is a fat32 partition with a bunch of portable windows apps on it. I can use it wherever there is a Windows machine
Partition 2 is also a fat32 partition and it has a bootable version of linux (Ubuntu) on it along with a persistence file.

This makes a really great tool that I can take anywhere and use on just about any machine I can find.

Wikileaks (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38105974)

Load 'em with as much as you can from wikileaks ;-)

Humble Bundles (4, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105978)

Not quite free, but you can buy a handful of them at $1 a pop and explain that you're giving them away as gifts.

1950s or so cigarette commercials (3, Interesting)

ThorGod (456163) | more than 2 years ago | (#38105990)

I used to have a zip file with a ton of free-use black and white cigarette/tabacco commercials. I'm sure they still exist on torrent sites. They're free and *legal*, and some will make your head spin in three different directions all at once. Then they can delete them and use your gift as a gift ;)

portableapps.com (3, Informative)

DragonTHC (208439) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106000)

The portable apps suite is a powerful free toolbox useful for any user and admin alike.

You can also customize each flash drive to the recipient of the gift. There's tons of apps available including games.

www.portableapps.com

How about other stuff - like family photos? (3, Interesting)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106092)

Back in the 80s I did a Commodore 64 Christmas Disk for three years, one thing that was good about it is that I know everyone who I gave it to had a Commodore 64, and thus everything to use the disk. Now ids a different matter, you have people running potentially three platforms (Linux, Mac, Windows) with several versions as well as varying system specs. Not that FOSS software isn't a bad idea, I just hope you have time to support all those people you give it to as there will be issues depending on thier OS, and technical skills.

I have a better idea; A couple years ago I did that but included family photos, etc. stuff my family would be interested in regardless of the platform.

Besides photos, also think about video clips of the family and kids, and you can throw in PD or CC music , e-books, art, etc.

PortableApps.com (1)

ckaminski (82854) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106096)

Load up the new launcher beta and load all the existing apps.

OK, I'm paranoid. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106100)

If I received a flash drive in the post, even marked as a gift from someone I know, it would probably find itself in a rubbish bin without further examination. Not unlike, "digital greeting card", emails in that regard. The value of the storage is less than the value of my time in checking for malware.

Hopefully your recipients are more willing to accept (or less aware of) the risks.

Re:OK, I'm paranoid. (1)

couchslug (175151) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106250)

So how do you sanitize the media you BUY for yourself?

LiMP (4, Interesting)

Tastecicles (1153671) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106120)

Linux Media Player and some CC music and movies.

Did this in '08 for my friends, still gets talked about - I still get voicemail with "Got any more of that free live music?"

Don't forget Candy & Presentation (1)

ddxexex (1664191) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106124)

I've always thought stocking stuffers should usually provide some instant gratification.
Since you're presumably giving these to less-tech literate people, there's a decent chance they won't immediately think the USB drives are awesome and wipe the disk without too much thought. Now if you tie some candy (like a candy cane) around the drive stick on a bow and make pretty, they will treat it more specially and might actually try out the software since they've already associated the USB drive as awesome, they'll see the FOSS on it as awesome too.

a virus (1)

kixome (1636329) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106148)

send them duku or stuxnet. Until you personally mentioned it I was going to say that I remember this exact same question last year around belial-mas time. I read slashdot pretty much every hour on the hour of everyday. The only regret I have had as of late is the slow pace at which news comes in, and further the low amount of linux news on the site nowadays.

WSUS Offline Update (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106172)

Assuming that your family runs windows, I highly recommend including WSUS Offline Update along with pre-downloaded patch files for all versions of windows/office that you are likely to encounter in your family tree. IMHO, it's the first app they should run when they receive your present. Link: http://www.wsusoffline.net/

Wikipedia? (5, Interesting)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106176)

How about the Wikipedia database? Only 7GB (compressed) and will provide many hours of bedside reading.

Or, if you're feeling particularly generous, give them the full database including all revisions - only 28GB compressed with 7-Zip, so will fit nicely on a 32GB flash drive. This expands to over 5TB of data, so will provide many more hours of exciting reading.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Database_download#English-language_Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]

Mint, not Ubuntu (1)

MurukeshM (1901690) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106186)

Aside from Linux Mint, which I prefer over Ubuntu for a better out of the box experience (I just installed Lisa yesterday evening), I'd suggest these: VLC / SMplayer
LibreOffice
7zip (and *remove* Winzip/WinRAR/whatever).
Firefox / Google Chrome
Notepad++ (associate with everything)
Thunderbird
Foxit Reader (I know it's closed source, perhaps Sumatra instead? I use both)
Picasa
Pidgin
If the receiver is a student, tools for things like Latex (Miktex + Texmaker, perhaps?)
A print copy of the manual [cryptonomicon.com] .
Whatever you like from Portable Apps. :)

Portableapps.com (2)

schizz69 (1239560) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106222)

Full of free Portable applications, so they can take their email inbox, firefox favourites and a whole lot of other tools and toys with them wherever they go. The best bit is, they are all FREE!!!

Photos (1)

M0j0_j0j0 (1250800) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106228)

Photos of you and the person that is going to receive the gift, i think its the most logical, quit the OSS adventism.

really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106238)

I heard about being cheap but that tops them all.

Give People What They Like, Not What You Like (0)

Quantum_Infinity (2038086) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106240)

This is probably not a good idea. Not everybody cares about software even though almost everybody uses it in one way or the other. Unless your target audience is a geek/nerd crowd, this is a bad idea. It may seem a great idea to you but an average person would think it is a terrible gift. Give them what they like, not what you like.

There isn't ANY Software that will be a gift. (0)

ClogHammer (904919) | more than 2 years ago | (#38106244)

You'll get branded as a schmuck and scared for life!

This is a TERRIBLE idea. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#38106252)

This is a TERRIBLE idea, and I can already see that a previous poster has experienced just how terrible it is in person.
 
Nerds are widely known for their poor social skills, and this falls squarely into that squirm-inducingly unfortunate category.
 
If you're going to communicate with people (and yes, gift giving qualifies as a form of communication), then it's incumbent upon you, the communicator, to ensure that you're speaking in a language the communicatee understands.
 
I remember, as a child, getting things like socks for christmas and being very disappointed at what was inside of the brightly-colored wrapping paper. What you're proposing is, for a standard-issue human, exactly the same kind of thing.
 
Don't do it!

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