Linux Journal Readers’ Choice Awards

The deadline is approaching for you to submit your preferences for the Linux Journal Readers’ Choice Awards. For purposes of discussion, here are (most of my) choices:

Best Linux Distro: I’m sticking with Ubuntu, even though I’m increasingly annoyed at several aspects of it. I chose Unbuntu because it was the distribution that allowed me to transform from someone who kept trying to make Linux work but never could to someone who uses Linux almost exclusively. The few times I’ve tried to use a distro other than Ubuntu, I’ve not had much success, and thus it remains as my choice, though I hope to experiment with other distros in the near future. Here’s the bottom line: If I have a computer that needs an operating system, I know I can get Ubuntu working on it, but I don’t know that I can do that with other distros. Therefore, using Ubuntu as my default eliminates a lot of variables. My goal over the next few weeks or months, however, is to add one more distro to this toolkit of mine.

This applies, by the way, to both regular distros and distros for limited hardware. Just use the CLI only Ubuntu for limited hardware and then slowly add things. I’ve got a beat up old notebook that i just put “gdm” on, which resulted in a simplified version of gnome being added, essentially, to which I’ve added a few other items.

Best mobile OS: I’m voting for android on the basis of what I’ve seen, not what I’ve done.

Best Desktop Environment: I’m voting for Enlightenment because it may be the best non-Gnome desktop that is not essentially Gnome with a screwdriver driven through it in a few places, because by the time this survey comes out Gnome will have gone over the cliff, IMHO. I’m actually thinking: A window manager that knows about the four or five apps I use all the time, and a nice command line.

Best Web Browser: If it didn’t crash and wasn’t clunky, Firefox would be my choice, but I’ve lost too much work to what seems to be increasingly crappy programming. Chrome/Chromium has served me well for these last few weeks since I’ve switched to it, so it gets my vote, in the spirit of this survey. The jury is still out on Chrome though.

Best email client: Though I use gmail web most often, I like Alpine so much better (and use it quite a bit). In my opinion, many email clients suffer PIM envy and that can ruin them. The best PIM by the way is a colon-delimited text file and a shell with grep.

Best IM Client: If I based this on what I do and not what I like, I’d have to write in Facebook because that is where almost all my IM’ing is done. I had one IM freind on gmail chat, but she hates me now and won’t talk to me. Oh well. The only other IM’ing I do is on Skype, and that is with exactly one person who still does not hate me! So I’m putting down Skype. But really, I don’t IM much. A hermit, living in a cave, with almost no friends, why would I?

Best IRC Client: If Im not using an IM client, then I’m probably not using and IRC client either. Leaving that one blank.

Best Microblogging Client: I’m surprised to see that “Twitter web site” is not on this list. Are there really other choices? I’ll have to look into that!

Best Office Suite: This one is a no brainer: I don’t use an office suite, but if I look at what I do that YOU use an office suite to do, the answer is emacs. Which I wrote in.

Best Single Office Program: No, I’m not going to write emacs in for this, because it is a somewhat different question and emacs is not really an office suite program. It’s what I use instead of an office program (as in Word Processor). So, the answer to this question is which of the various items is the coolest and the one I turn to most often to get stuff done, and that is clearly gnumeric.

Best Graphics/Design Tool: I’m a little surprised that Xara is not on the list, and I suppose I could write it in. But of those on the list, GIMP is the one I use most even if I could see it changed quite a bit. ON the other hand, I probably process more pixel with ImageMagick than anything else. And, I could go political and vote for LibreOffice Draw so it gets more votes than OpenOffice Draw, but since I’ve never used it, that would be dishonest. I guess I’ll vote for GIMP.

Best Digital Photo Management Tool: Don’t get me started, I might blog about this! I recently drank the Kool-Aid and started using Picasa against my better judgement. Then I went to actually “manage” some photos. I wanted to select a handful of photos, copy them to a new directory and then do a little editing then use each one in a blog post. No such luck. Picasa did not let me save copies of the photos to a single alternative directory. Well,yes, I could do it, but I had to kludge it. On the other hand, if I open a bunch of directories in Nautilus and use the icon view, I can move around files very easily. That, in fact, is what I ended up doing. So, given the principle that if while using one of the most lauded applications for a particular purpose, it utterly fails, and you switch to something else, then you must vote for the “else,” my write in answer is “Nautilus with the Linux File System.”

Best audio tools and player: I just put down what my distro seems to use.

Best Media Player: I selected the choice that plays more media without complaining than the other choices on my current installation: VLC.

Best Bookmarking Tool: Obviously, a simple text file with a delimiter that does pairs a colon and a space! But of the choices, I’m trying Google Bookmarks now and finding some success. I’m using it for the Secret Project I’ve mentioned before. So far so good.

Best Online Collaboration Tool: Here is where I get into trouble for telling you the absolute truth even if it violates your very concept of validity as a human being. The choices are many. eGroupWare. Google Docs. Wikis. The PC-PC (personal computing politically correct) answer is obviously Wikis. But in truth, none of those are any good. There is only one online collaboration tool that works, and the reason for that is that you can’t really collaborate if you don’t collaborate with anybody. I don’t mean everybody, I mean anybody. In the old days, that meant “telephone” was the only correct answer. Today, it means “email” is the only correct answer. So, email it is. I had to write it in, of course.

Best Cloud-based File Storage: No brainer. Dropbox! It both stores your stuff off line and syncs it, and with the selective sync now available, I can have my low-hard disk space laptop live a little longer by selectively syncing only a few folders to it. If you don’t have at least the free versoi of Dropbox, then you are either very very cool because you’ve set up your own Amazon S3 cloud (something I hope to do some day) or very very not-very-smart about how to use your computer and manage your data. Encrypt your data, though. Either way. All clouds are far away and in the space between there be pirates.

Best Kid-friendly Application: A Mac.

Best Game: Every year I look at this category and think “Games? You can play games on a computer?” But seriously, no, I’m not a game snob, I just avoid games on the computer as a means of avoiding the distraction. The best game is probably on the Wii, which is not in my cave, so it can’t distract me. So I left this category blank.

Best Database: The best database is obviously a colon-and-space delimited text file, but I get that this is not what is being asked here. For my uses, SQLite is the best because it involves much less overhead and setup than mySQL and is relational and stuff.

Best Backup Solution: The whole backup philosophy is fundementally flawed. You should not back up your data, but rather, keep it mirrored in two secure locations, one on the cloud where someone else who knows a lot more than you do is tasked with backing it up. Backing up your system can be done the same way or with only minimal recordkeeping. Maybe its the Ghost of Windows Past making me think this way, but since it only takes a few hours tops, mostly unattended, to totally format, partition, re-install a distro, and add the needed software and then everything is all squeeky clean, why bother backing up the crap? But even if you do back up your system, this backup is not proper if it is not off site. Thus, the answer that I came down to is just as you might expect: Dropbox!

Best Virtualizaton Solution: A second computer sitting next to you? No, but seriously, I’ve had good experiences with VirtualBox so I voted thus, but I probably could have left it blank and pled ignorance.

Best Monitoring Application: Is this what it sounds like? I don’t know about such things. Should we even be voting on this?

Best Revision Control System: You’re not going to git me to answer this one!

Best Programming Language: Obviously, it was QuickBasic with in line assembly. But I can’t seem to find that choice on the list. Imma pick Python because it is easiest to implement because it can be used as a scripted language and to me, programming languages are really big fancy macro-writing utilities.

Best Scripting Language: The choices include awk, perl, etc. But the answer is bash because it is perfectly acceptable to include awk, perl and the unmentioned sed and python scripts as part of your bashing. bash is the boss. Everybody else works for bash.

Best IDE: For me, clearly, emacs. Had to write it in, though.

Best Open Source Configuration Management Tool: I have no clue.

Best Platform for Developing Rich Internet Apps: HTML5. For obvious reasons.

Best Package Management Application I voted for Synaptic but really, I mean the entire family, because one uses synaptic, apt and aptitude depending on where you are and what you want to do.

Best Content Management System: I question the legitimacy of the term “Content Management System” though in this case I voted for WordPress becuase that is probably the fastest concept-to-reality route for people who have not done this before. Otherwise it’s probably Plone or for that matter, an SQL database, choose your own scripting interface (python, perl) and PHP implemented by a staff of four to six full time experts.

Best Linux-friendly Web Hosting Company: First, just want GoDaddy to know that the last three times someone asked me for advice in this area I said “anybody but GoDaddy.” I use HostGo, not on the list and they’re fine. This is something, though, that must be researched anew each time you ask the question and is probably more dynamic than fairly addressed in an annual poll.

Best Linux Laptop Vendor and Best Linux Desktop Workstation Vendor: They’ve all failed. I’d suggest your nearest used computer store, and that’s what I’ve written in. I just found out that Dell won’t sell you a Linux computer running on the highest end Intel processors. Why is that?

Best Linux Server Vendor: I wrote in “Amazon.com and my screwdriver” because the local used computer store probably does not have the parts.

Best Linux Book: This is a tough one. Is it The UNIX Philosophy, because it is how you get your grounding? Is it Classic Shell Scripting because it is so under the hood? It might seriously be Linux For Dummies, 9th Edition, because after that you look everything up on the web. Or, am I not understanding the question?

Best Linux Journal Column: There are three Linux Journal Columns I read faithfully: Current Issue because it orients me and usually has some cool snarky commentary; Work the Shell by Dave Taylor, and by the way, I think there should be a LOT more coding at the basic level in that magazine, with a column for perl and a column for python, etc.; and diff -u by Zack Brown, which I read in a rather zen fashion … I don’t expect to understand most of it yet somehow over time my sense of understanding grows. I selected Dave Taylor’s column on a three-sided coin toss.

Best Brand of Video Chipset: I eagerly await the results on this question becuase I want to know! I selected Nvidia becauase I’ve been using it effectively but that may be random.

Best Linux Smartphone Manufacturer: No opinion.

Best Linux Tablet Manufacturer: No opinion.

Best Other Linux-based Gadget: I was going to write in The Internet but then I looked at the choices and picked Amazon Kindle. And now, my Chumby is glaring at me.

Best New Open-Source Project (released in 2010 or 2011): Does emacs23 count? OK, then, I suppose I’d have to select something with the word “cloud” in it. Or maybe Diaspora, if it counts as 2010 and 2011.

Best New Commercial Application (released in 2010 or 2011): I suppose Crossover is the best commercial app that I know of and have used (though I currently don’t use it) but it is not new. I guess I don’t really know. Who cares.

Which product would you title “Product of the Year” in the Linux space? This product should be ground-breaking, interesting, innovative, or just plain cool: For political purposes, I’ll say Libre Office.

Comments? Suggestions? Rants? You can fill your form out here.

Comments

  1. #1 Dan "Hussein" J
    August 22, 2011

    Very similar choices to those I would make. Of course, that means I’ll probably have to make my own blog post about this, now.

    I’m using Ubuntu 11.04, Gnome 2.32, Firefox 6.0 & Chrome 13.0. When forced by certain circumstances to use some variety of Windows, I often cringe at the frustrations.

    Thanks, Greg!

  2. #2 Greg Laden
    August 22, 2011

    Link back when you do that.

  3. #3 jozen1
    August 23, 2011

    i enjoyed your post because i could relate to your choices. Here are mine:
    distro=debian
    desktop=lxde
    browser=midori
    office=libreoffice (i actually use inkscape/gnumeric/abiword)
    photos=GIMP
    music=easytag+vlc
    media=vlc
    ide=? trying geany & scite, else leafpad
    cms=wordpress
    vendor=lenovo, not sold w linux, but good stuff
    vidChip=i like amd fusion, cheap & good

  4. #4 Eric
    August 23, 2011

    distro=Arch Linux
    desktop=standalone compiz or openbox
    browser=chromium or vimprobable2
    office=libreoffice
    photos=Bibble Pro for linux, but I’m bad and use windows + photoshop for most photo stuff
    email=thunderbird
    audio=deadbeef
    video=mplayer or vlc
    IDE=vim

  5. #5 phayes
    August 24, 2011

    Difficult… so mostly “no opinion” for me too. Emacs is a good candidate for best in several categories. Best programming language is an easy one though. Adapting Neal Stephenson’s famous Emacs quote: (Common) Lisp outshines all other programming languages in approximately the same way that the noonday sun does the stars. It is not just bigger and brighter; it simply makes everything else vanish. :)

  6. #6 Bitter
    August 29, 2011

    distro=Arch Linux
    desktop=LXDE
    browser=chromium
    office=libreoffice
    audio=deadbeef
    video=mplayer or vlc
    editor=nano + leafpad
    torrent client = transmission
    instant chat = pidgin
    photo = shotwell

  7. #7 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2011

    office=libreoffice (i actually use inkscape/gnumeric/abiword)

    Does that count as “Gnome office” which was, at one time, a concept, IIRC (though maybe not with inkscape).

  8. #8 Greg Laden
    August 29, 2011

    Eric, that’s not being bad. It is just doing what you need to do. If I had the cash and/or my need was sufficient, I’d probably have a mac in the house for certain purposes. There’s some great software for those things even though it’s rather expensive. I do maintain one windows computer because certain people need it for certain things, but it is an old XP lic. that I refuse to upgrade. When the system no longer works I’ll convert the box to some other use and consider (but not necessarily do it) getting a Windows 7 disk and installing it in a virtual box. Or, the next time I buy a laptop that has windows already installed on it, pehaps instead of throwing out the disks and scraping off the tags and burning them, I’ll make that one machine a dual booter, just to have that occasional need met.

    Purity actually damages the FOSS movement more than purist like to admit.

  9. #9 Abe
    August 29, 2011

    distro=Kubuntu
    mobile OS=Android
    desktop=KDE
    browser=Chrome
    Bookmarking Tool=Chrome
    email client=GMail
    Office Suite=libreoffice
    Graphics/Design Tool=Inkscape
    Digital Photo Management Tool=GIMP
    Music=Amarok
    Media Player=vlc
    editor=Kate
    Best Database=MySQL
    torrent client = transmission
    instant chat = Koepete, Skype
    Video Editing = KdenLive
    Virtualizaton=VBox
    Programming Language=
    Scripting Language=PERL, PHP, Python
    IDE=KDevelop
    Developing RIA=XAMPP
    Package Management Application=APT-Aptitude
    CMS=PHP, Python, PERL
    Linux Vendor OEM=HP
    Linux Smartphone Manufacturer=Google
    Linux Tablet Manufacturer=Motorola
    New Open-Source Project=KDE Plasma Active, MyCloud
    Product of the Year= KDE