So when my 14-year-old son Gabe came home from his first summer job (where he's learning the open source joys of Python, PHP, and MySQL), extolling the virtues of Linux, I was skeptical. Old habits, and old operating systems, die hard.
I was unwilling to turn my trusty PC into a Linux box, so he popped in a CD with Knoppix, on it, rebooted, and voila -- instant Linux. Knoppix is a free version of Linux that you can boot directly from a CD, available free for downloading and then burning onto CD. A whole host of Linux software comes along for the ride, including the office suite OpenOffice.org, the browsers Konqueror and Mozilla, and more as well. It's hard not to like the desktop, with its transparent menus and slideaway bottom panel. But because Knoppix is meant more for demos than real work, there wasn't much I could do with it.