2002 Editors' Choice Awards

We present this year's winners and a few honorable mentions.

This year, in order to draw upon a wider base of knowledge and experience, we made some modifications to the process of choosing the winners of the Linux Journal Editors' Choice Awards. We started by selecting a board of over 50 Linux experts, chosen largely from among the best and brightest of Linux Journal contributors. This board, after receiving the categories, was charged with coming up with nominees for each. Once we had the nominees and the board's comments on each one, we passed them on to our contributing editors for their input. Armed with this information, our editorial team made the final decisions.

This year, we see an unusual number of free and open-source software products among the winners. This is not a sign that commercial products are in decline, either in quantity or quality, but rather a reflection of the maturity of many open-source projects. There were a number of commercial products that also ranked highly with the nomination board, and in those cases where one product received a high number of nominations, but won no award, we included it as an honorable mention.

Server Appliance: SnapGear Lite/Lite+ SOHO Firewall/VPN Client

We ran a review of the SnapGear Lite in the LJ April 2002 issue (www.linuxjournal.com/article/5744) and concluded that for the price and functionality, it can't be beat. For $249-$299 US (depending on whether you get the Lite or the Lite+) you get, in addition to firewall and NAT functionality, a hardware-based VPN client that can emulate Microsoft's Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol, letting you use a Linux machine to access a Microsoft VPN.

SnapGear's products are based on the SecureEdge platform, developed when SnapGear was merged with Lineo (in the days when Lineo was in the business of acquiring companies). SnapGear has spun off into its own company again for some time now and seems to be doing very well with their line of Linux-based routers, which allows them pricing significantly lower than much of their competition.

Honorable Mention: Sun Microsystems' Cobalt Qube

Security Tool: GPG

Did you notice how much more cryptographically signed e-mail you got during the past year? You should thank the developers of your favorite mailer for making mail signing, encryption and checking easy, but most of all, thank the GNU Privacy Guard developers for offering a compatible replacement for the original Pretty Good Privacy, which vanished in a flurry of—all together now—Corporate Shenanigans. Now, there's no excuse for not being able to send and receive secure mail.

Web Server: IBM X-Series

It seems like everybody's making rackmount Linux web servers. What's IBM have that the others don't? A smooth web ordering process, whatever service and support level you desire, and they'll support their hardware running Red Hat, Caldera, SuSE or Turbolinux. Quite a choice.

Honorable Mention: Sun Microsystems' Cobalt RaQ XTR

Enterprise Application Server: Zope

Before the Web, how often did DBAs and graphic designers get a chance to call each other productivity-sucking idiots or worse? Ever since web site management got big and professional, we've known that graphic designers don't want to work on templates, but sites full of static luscious-looking pages get unmanageable real fast, and the answer is a database and a templating system.

Now, let the graphics people work with WYSIWYG tools if they like—Zope offers a clever templating system that makes the templates work in the WYSIWYG tool when it's time to modify them. Everyone else will appreciate the load-balancing capability and, of course, the Free Software license.

Technical Workstation: HP x4000

We first saw this machine at LinuxWorld New York, 2002 where it was being displayed with high-end graphics applications such as Maya for Linux. Our impressions of its high-performance capabilities were confirmed by the review we ran in the LJ June 2002 issue, in which reviewer Thad Beier used the words “shockingly faster” to describe the x4000 in comparison with machines he was used to. Thad used the machine to run resource-gobbling effects software and simply was blown away with the performance. As tested, with two 2.2GHz processors, 4GB of RDRAM, it's not hard to imagine that he would be. Of course HP ships the x4000 with Linux (Red Hat) preloaded. HP offers the x4000 in a number of configuration options, so you can get what you need regardless of whether you're running an effects studio or running complex Verilog simulations with Icarus.