10 holiday gift ideas for open source enthusiasts

From DIY projects to computers to books, this list provides gift suggestions that foster creativity, learning, and exploring.
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Are you looking for cool gifts for people on your holiday shopping list or ideas for your own wishlist? If so, consider one of the ten suggestions below. Each of these gift suggestions connects in some way to the open source ethos. From DIY projects to computers to books, this list provides gift suggestions that foster creativity, learning, and exploring.

System76 computer

System76 Thelio

Does someone in your life need a new desktop, laptop, or server? System76 should be one of the first places you should look. Looking for something light and mobile? The lightweight 14-inch Lemur Pro laptop is an excellent choice. Need a desktop with a lot of processing power, RAM, and storage? One of the various Thelio desktops is what you are looking for. And there are plenty of other options in-between. Their computers come with either Ubuntu or Pop!_OS, which is the company's own Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, and have lifetime support. System76 is also in favor of right-to-repair legislation. While not the only vendor out there that sells Linux-powered computers, they are certainly one of the most popular.

Prices Vary

Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit

Raspberry Pi 400 Kit

At this point, the Raspberry Pi brand needs little introduction. Since the first Raspberry Pi model took the world by storm in 2012, the Raspberry Pi has remained one of the most popular single-board computers for use in education and by hobbyists and tinkerers. The Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit continues this trend. This kit contains everything someone needs to get started, except a monitor. For US$ 100.00, you get the Raspberry Pi 400 (a variant of the Raspberry Pi 4 series built into a keyboard casing), a mouse, power supply, micro HDMI-to-HDMI cable, an SD card preloaded with Raspberry Pi OS, and a copy of the Raspberry Pi Beginner's Guide. While not the most powerful computer in the world, the Raspberry Pi 400 is more than capable of functioning as a decent starting computer for the children on your shopping list.

Price: US$ 100.00

Raspberry Pi Build HAT

Raspberry Pi Build HAT

One of the many benefits of the Raspberry Pi is its ability to be expanded with various add-on boards. A recently introduced add-on board, the Raspberry Pi Build HAT, makes it possible to use the Raspberry Pi to control up to four LEGO Technic motors or sensors from the LEGO Education SPIKE product line. The Build HAT works with any Raspberry Pi with a 40-pin GPIO header. You code projects using a specially developed Python library. The Build HAT can power itself, the Raspberry Pi board, and the LEGO motors and sensors using an external 8V DC power source (like the official Built HAT power supply) or a 7.5V battery pack. 

Price: US$ 25.00 (plus the cost of the parts and accessories needed for a project)



The CrowPi2 is a collection of STEM learning projects built into a laptop-style case powered by a Raspberry Pi. The CrowPi2 kit comes in three sizes: Basic, Advanced, and Deluxe. The Basic kit comes with a few accessories but does not come with a Raspberry Pi. The Advanced kit comes with a Raspberry Pi 4B with 4GB of RAM and a larger selection of accessories than the Basic kit. The Deluxe Kit comes with the largest selection of accessories and a Raspberry Pi 4B with 8GB of RAM. All three kits are available in Space Gray or Silver. An optional power bank can provide the CrowPi2 with power when not plugged into an electrical outlet. If you want to learn more about the CrowPi2, you can read Opensource.com's review of the CrowPi2 by Seth Kenlon.

Basic Kit: US$ 339.99  

Advanced Kit: US$ 469.99  

Deluxe Kit: US$ 529.99

Optional Power Bank: US$ 19.00  

Keebio Quefrency keyboard

Recommendation by John Hall

Keebio Quefrency Keyboard

The Keebio Quefrency keyboard would make a great holiday gift for anyone who wants to build their own keyboard! It is a 65% keyboard, which is probably the smallest most people would be willing to go since it has Home, PgUp, PgDn, and arrow keys. It is a split ergonomic keyboard, but you can put the halves back together if you have difficulty adjusting to the split. Best of all, the latest revision of the Quefrency has hot-swap sockets, so you can build it without needing to solder anything.

Here is an inexpensive Quefrency keyboard build:

As noted in the parts list, the Keebio Quefrency rev4 needs five stabilizers:

  1. Left Shift
  2. Left Space
  3. Right Space
  4. Enter
  5. Backspace

The Keebio Quefrency rev4 is intended to be built as a 65% keyboard, which has a shortened right shift key that does not need a stabilizer. Many keycap sets, even relatively inexpensive sets like Artifact Bloom and Glorious GPBT, include a shortened right shift key that fits most keyboards like this one. The hard part is finding matching split spacebar keycaps. But you can buy spacebar keycaps from places like Pimp My Keyboard, which work great. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to get matching colors from different manufacturers. Even if you pick white keycaps and white spacebars, one of them is likely to be grayer than the other. Why not celebrate the difference instead? Try pairing white and gray keycaps with red or blue spacebars.

Petoi Nybble Open Source Robotic Cat

Petoi Nybble

The Petoi Nybble Open Source Robotic Cat is a kit for building a robotic pet cat. The kit comes with everything needed to build the project, but batteries are not included. The Nybble requires two 14500 lithium ion rechargeable 3.7V batteries, which provide about 45 minutes of playtime. Once assembled, the cat can be programmed/controlled using the Arduino IDE, a Python API, or an Android/iOS app. Check out the Nybble User Manual for more details.

Price: US$ 249.00 USD

The Expanse Novel Series

The Expanse books

The final novel in The Expanse series by James S.A. Corey comes out just in time for the holiday gift-giving season. Set to release on November 30, Leviathan Falls will conclude the main narrative of this epic nine-book science fiction series that explorers humanity's future in space. In order, the nine books in the series are Leviathan Wakes, Caliban's War, Abaddon's Gate, Cibola Burn, Nemesis Games, Babylon's Ashes, Persepolis Rising, Tiamat's Wrath, and Leviathan Falls. There will also be a collection of short stories and novellas published next year. Most of these stories and novellas are already available in eBook format, but the collection will be the first time they are available in print. Buy the science fiction reader in your life the first book of the series to get them started, or buy them the entire series.

Books 1 through 6: US$ 17.99 (Trade Paperback)  

Books 7 and 8: US$ 18.99 (Trade Paperback)  

Book 9: US$ 30.00 (Hardcover)


If you are looking for book recommendations and the recommendation for The Expanse does not meet your needs, consider the books from Opensource.com's 2021 Summer Reading List. This list contains eight book recommendations for a variety of reading tastes. From a modern translation of Beowulf to non-fiction books about technology, there should be something there for the reader in your life. If the 2021 Summer Reading List does not have what you are looking for, the article also contains links to all of Opensource.com's previous summer reading lists, which provides ten more lists of suggestions.

Prices Vary


One of the drawbacks of virtual conferences during the pandemic is that you cannot walk away from the conference with a collection of stickers from various vendor booths. For those who love decorating their laptops with stickers, this could mean that their latest laptop is currently unadorned with the usual decorations. If this sounds like someone in your life, consider buying them a Unixstickers pack from Sticker Mule. The packs come in three different sizes: Pro, which contains ten stickers; Elite, which contains all the stickers from the Pro pack plus ten more stickers; and Ultimate, which contains everything in the Elite pack plus an additional ten stickers. The stickers cover many open source projects making these bundles the next best thing to visiting vendor booths and the sticker swap table at an in-person conference.

Pro pack: US$ 1.00

Elite pack: US$ 19.00

Ultimate pack: US$ 24.00

Charitable donation to an open source organization

If the person on your shopping list already has everything (or does not want any tangible gifts), consider making a charitable donation to an open source project in their name. Opensource.com's list of open source organizations has plenty of organizations you can select from. You, the person whose name the donation was made in, and the organization that received your donation can all be content in knowing that your gift has helped make open source better.

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1 Comment

Excellent gift ideas!!

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