Linux is an open source operating system that is free in more than one way. Most relevant to community-minded Davis is the philosophy that drives Linux development: (1) you should be able to know exactly how your operating system works, (2) you should be able to change it if you don't like how it works, and (3) you should be able to freely share it with others. It's no surprise that the DavisWiki is served off a Linux machine.
Linux is freely downloadable online (e.g. see options on distrowatch.com) and allows you to run a treasure trove of high quality free software applications. The software most useful to the academic community (office suites, mathematics and statistics, and Internet communications) is well represented, and some recent distributions of the OS have gotten so user-friendly that 9 out of 10 grandmothers can use it.
The computer science major at UC Davis is very Linux/Unix centered. As such, many students taking CS classes run some variant of Linux on their machines so they don't have to live in the dungeon. OS X also works for this purpose.
LUGOD (Linux Users Group of Davis) — learn more about how you can use Linux, or how you can contribute to the local Linux community, or attend one of their meetings. As a testament to Linux's popularity in Davis, LUGOD boasts one of the highest memberships in the nation—not to mention one of the most active.
Installfests — an all day event to help you install Linux on your system
Professor Matloff's Unix and Linux Tutorial Center
The UC Davis CSE department offers an open source software mirror
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2009-01-07 23:21:40 I just put Ubuntu on my parents (and grandparent's) computer. No problems. —CodyDuncan