LJ Archive

2004 Readers' Choice Awards

Heather Mead

Issue #127, November 2004

We know the timing of this article puts us at a disadvantage. It's November of a US presidential election year, and it's hard for our Readers' Choice awards to compete. But, we know you've been waiting to find out whether C beat C++ for Favorite Programming Language and where Gentoo fell in the top three in the Favorite Distribution category. It's time for the awards.

Favorite E-Mail Client

  1. Mozilla

  2. Ximian Evolution

  3. KMail

Once again, the top three choices in this category were GUI-based clients. The only difference between this year's top three and last year's is the order: Mozilla jumped to first place from third, Evolution dropped to second and KMail dropped to third. The fifth-place finisher came from the write-in votes—the new Mozilla Thunderbird was only a few votes shy of fourth-place mutt this year.

Favorite Distribution

  1. Debian GNU/Linux

  2. Mandrakelinux

  3. Gentoo

Debian won first place for the second year in a row, picking up almost 300 more votes than second-place Mandrakelinux. Last year's number two, Red Hat, fell to fourth this year, as Gentoo cracked the top three to come in third. The most popular write-in vote was Red Hat's all-free, community-oriented Fedora, coming in at number eight.

Favorite Desktop Workstation

  1. Homemade

  2. HP xw8200 Linux Workstation

  3. Monarch Athlon 64 System Special

Seventy-five percent of voters agreed with the sentiments of the reader who voted for his “bastard child of desire and affordability”, the ever-popular homemade desktop workstation. Like proud parents rattling off the list of talents and skills their offspring possess, voters wrote in the entire list of components in their homemade systems. Other write-in voters echoed the opinion of LJ contributing editor Greg Kroah-Hartman, who selected the Apple Power Mac G5, well supported in Linux, as his desktop of choice in this year's Editors' Choice Awards.

Favorite Database

  1. MySQL v4.0

  2. PostgreSQL

  3. Oracle 9i DB

This year's top three favorite databases were a repeat of last year's top three. Although the Editors picked PostgreSQL as their favorite back in August, readers selected MySQL over PostgreSQL by a 2 to 1 ratio. Combined, MySQL and PostgreSQL own 78% of the votes. Add in Oracle 9i and that percentage climbs to 83%. So what else are readers using for their database work? SQLite, GemStone/S and Firebird picked up less than a hundred votes apiece, and Versant was the most popular write-in vote.

Favorite LJ Column

  1. Cooking with Linux

  2. Kernel Korner

  3. Paranoid Penguin

Ah, Marcel. Like Susan Sarandon, David Bowie and '02 Bordeaux, Cooking with Linux columnist Marcel Gagnékeeps getting better with age. Whether he's showing us a new game, recommending a lovely Australian red or demonstrating a little monitoring GUI, he's always supplying us with useful information in fun ways.

Most Indispensable Linux Book

  1. Linux in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition, Ellen Siever, et al.

  2. Running Linux, 4th Edition, Matt Welsh, et al.

  3. Advanced UNIX Programming, 2nd Edition, Marc Rochkind

I was beginning to think I'd never see a new title in the top three spots in the book category—just advancing edition numbers. But after five-plus years, we finally have a new one. Advanced UNIX Programming by Marc J. Rochkind landed in third place this year. Yes, it's a second edition of a book originally published in 1985, but the content is mostly new. The most popular write-in vote continued to be man pages.

Favorite Backup Utility

  1. tar

  2. Amanda

  3. Arkeia Network Backup v5.2

For another year, tar was by far the most popular backup utility, gathering votes from 65% of readers who responded. Amanda came in a distant second, garnering 5% of all votes. On the write-in side, rsync took the top spot. After that, it was a onesy-twosy game of Bacula, personal shell scripts and proprietary offerings. This is weird, though: no one said backups are for wimps.

Favorite Audio Tool

  1. xmms

  2. mplayer

  3. Audacity

A bit of a shake-up in the audio category, as last year's number two and number three tools—noatun and mpg123, respectively—were knocked out by mplayer and Audacity. xmms remains the clear favorite, however, picking up just fewer than 50% of the total votes. On the write-in side, KDE's amaroK came in as the clear favorite, racking up enough votes to tie mpg123 for sixth place overall.

Favorite Desktop Environment

  1. KDE

  2. GNOME

  3. Window Maker

For several years now, KDE and GNOME have finished first and second, respectively, with an ever-increasing distance between the two. This year, KDE received two votes for every one GNOME received. Window Maker holds on to the number three spot, beating XFce by a single vote. No one said “they all suck” this year, and the only write-in voter who expressed frustration said he might try to write his own environment.

Favorite Linux Web Site

  1. LinuxFR

  2. Slashdot

  3. Freshmeat.net

Last year we noted how close voting was in this category, and this year, for the first time ever, Slashdot isn't the favorite Web site. Granted, only six votes separated LinuxFR from Slashdot, but has Slashdot lost some of its cachet? Or is it simply because even hardware vendor news sounds exciting in French?

Favorite Linux Training

  1. Linux Certified, Inc., Linux Systems & Network Administration Class

  2. SuSE Linux Training

  3. Tie: Novell Certified Linux Engineer and Linux Lunacy Cruise

Judging by the numbers, most of our voters aren't into formal training, preferring instead to use a combination of books, Web resources and, as one voter put it, “hard knocks”. Among those going the more formal route, Linux Certified, which offers classes in San Francisco and Boston, was the favorite.

Favorite Distributed File Sharing System

  1. BitTorrent

  2. Gnutella

  3. Red Hat Global Filesystem

In its first year on our official nominee list, BitTorrent claimed first place with no trouble whatsoever, winning 62% of the votes. Last year's favorite, Gnutella, fell hard to second place, with just less than 11% of the total. eMule and eDonkey grabbed most of the write-in votes, except for the person who believes “communism is wrong”. BitTorrent users can check out legaltorrents.com for many gigabytes of music, books and movies all released under Creative Commons licenses.

Favorite Programming Beverage

  1. Coffee

  2. Water

  3. Tea

Year after year, what people drink while programming is one of the most hotly debated categories. Especially among the write-in responses, our voters are loyal to their beverages beyond belief. Caffeine in all its forms continues its reign, claiming around 85% of all votes. And who drinks Five Alive? I didn't even know they made that anymore!

Favorite Embedded Distribution

  1. Qtopia

  2. MontaVista Linux

  3. BlueCat

In its third year on the ballot, the embedded distribution category continued to gain an increasing amount of total votes. Judging by the write-ins, a lot of embedded Linux work is done using customized or homemade variations. Among the commercial variants, the PDA environment Qtopia remains the favorite with a strong lead, almost twice the number of votes as the second-place MontaVista. The Open Embedded Project also is attracting a number of developers.

Favorite Web-Hosting Service

  1. RackSpace Managed Hosting

  2. Hurricane Electric Web Hosting

  3. ServerBeach

With just less than 20% of all the votes, RackSpace is your favorite Web-hosting service again this year. But most of the votes in this category continue to come in the form of write-ins, almost 64%. So what are you using? OVH, Speakeasy, Amen (a French service) and DreamHost all received several mentions. Overall, Web hosting remains a DIY job among this voting crowd.

Favorite Development Tool

  1. GNU Compiler Collection (GCC)

  2. Emacs

  3. Eclipse

All these vendors are releasing development tools like crazy, but our voters stick with the basics, thanks anyway. GCC and Emacs combine to claim 33% of the total votes. After that, it's Eclipse and KDevelop. Among write-ins, vi, vim and VisualWorks SmallTalk are the most popular.

Favorite Text Editor

  1. vim

  2. vi and vi clones

  3. GNU Emacs

Last year, vim beat vi by almost three times as many votes; this year, it was by only twice as many. Hmm, I wonder what that could mean? Seriously, what's the voting process for if not a chance to develop new conspiracy theories? Coming in at a strong number four is Kate, the KDE Advanced Text Editor. Could readers finally be ready for a modern user interface in an editor instead of Meta-x this and Escape-colon-that? Stay tuned.

Favorite System Administration Tool

  1. Webmin

  2. YaST

  3. KDE Desktop Sharing

Be honest now, you all were most anxious about voting in this category, weren't you? Nothing screams excitement like sysadmin tools. But we're grateful to have them, that's for sure. Webmin collected barely more than 25% of the total votes to take first place. On the write-in side, a collection of text editors and shells claimed most of the votes.

Favorite Server

  1. HP Integrity rx4640

  2. HP ProLiant DL585

  3. SGI Altix 3000

HP claimed first and second place for a combined 35% of all votes in this category. Last year's first-place finisher, the Altix 3000, fell to third this year. The write-in votes featured a lot of Dell and IBM server variations. And, of course, many of you continue to build your own servers.

Favorite Network or Server Appliance

  1. Cyclades AlterPath ACS

  2. Net Integrator, vMark 1

  3. Veritas Storage Foundation, v4.5

Only a few hundred voters expressed a preference in this category. Among those who did vote, the Cyclades AlterPath ACS was the favorite for a second year.

Favorite Portable Workstation

  1. Monarch Hornet 64 Custom System

  2. Linux Certified LC2430 Linux Laptop

  3. EmperorLinux Toucan Laptop, vT42p

Laptops continue to dominate this category, although various Zaurus PDA models made a number of appearances in the write-in section. The big hardware vendors—Dell, IBM, Sony, Toshiba and Apple—ate up most of the write-in votes. HP introduced its Linux laptop too late to catch the voting, so we'll see how they do next time.

Favorite Processor Architecture

  1. AMD Athlon

  2. Intel Pentium 2, 3 and 4

  3. PowerPC

PowerPC and Opteron switched places this year, but only 20 votes separated the two architectures. Meanwhile, Athlon held on to the top spot for another year, having received 40% of the total vote count. Intel Itanium picked up the most write-in votes.

Favorite Office Program

  1. OpenOffice.org

  2. AbiWord

  3. StarOffice

Receiving 72% of the votes, OpenOffice.org is by far this year's favorite office program. In fact, OpenOffice.org received 2,180 more votes than the second-place finisher, AbiWord. It's hard to beat office software that makes more logical sense than its competitors, is compatible with almost everything and, oh yeah, is free.

Favorite Programming Language

  1. C

  2. Perl

  3. C++

Ah, favorite programming language—time for a flame war. A bit of a shake-up this year: after being knocked out of first place last year, C reclaims it this year and C++ drops to third. The P language in the top three is Perl, while PHP slips to fourth place, closely followed by Python. The voting was close this year, too; only 59 votes separated C from C++.

Favorite Instant Messaging Client

  1. Gaim

  2. Kopete

  3. Jabber

Receiving almost 800 more votes than Kopete, Gaim is the clear winner of the favorite instant-messaging client award. Kopete and Jabber switched places since last year, but only seven votes separated them. Quite a few voters wrote that they hate IM. Come on, guys, who has time these days to wait for e-mail?

Favorite Graphics Program

  1. The GIMP

  2. ImageMagick

  3. gqview

It's okay if you want to skip this category; nothing really changes here. The GIMP won almost 70% of the votes...again. Inkscape is the most popular write-in vote this year. A number of you continue to use WINE to access Photoshop and other non-Linux programs.

Favorite Linux Game

  1. Frozen Bubble

  2. Tux Racer

  3. Quake 3

We find it quite interesting that every year one of the categories that receives the most votes is Favorite Linux Game. According to some, games on Linux pale in comparison to what's available for other platforms. But that doesn't stop our voters from wasting hours at the keyboard, does it? Frozen Bubble retains its addictive powers for another year and claims first prize.

Favorite Web Browser

  1. Mozilla

  2. Konqueror

  3. Opera

The top two spots are the same this year as they were last year, with Mozilla claiming 50% of all votes. Opera broke the top three this year, sending Galeon down to fifth place. On the write-in side, it's all about the Firefox. To those of you complaining that Firefox is not Mozilla or another Gecko-based browser, your pleas have been duly noted.

Resources for this article: www.linuxjournal.com/article/7757.

Heather Mead is senior editor of Linux Journal.

LJ Archive