2004 Editors' Choice Awards
It's getting harder and harder to keep up with all the great Linux-related products, services and projects out there. Fortunately, we've expanded our list of contributing editors over the past year, and the panel for Editors' Choice is looking pretty distinguished. So, without further ado, here's Editors' Choice Awards 2004.
The HP ProLiant BL20p G2, which Ibrahim Haddad recommends, features two Intel Xeon processors, onboard RAID, two hot-swap SCSI drives, three Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, plus one more Ethernet connection for management, and optional Fibre Channel. That would be nice in a 1U rackmount server, but this box is a blade, and you can pack eight of them, plus up to six redundant power supplies and your choice of two switches or other interconnect options, in a 6U chassis.
If dinky laptop drives have been your reason not to drink the blade-ade, look again at the new generation of heavyweight blade servers. Maybe it's time to save the pizza boxes for pizza.
Because each editor has different, strongly held opinions about his or her personal work environment, we all were surprised when Doc Searls, Ibrahim Haddad and Robert Love agreed on this: the IBM ThinkPad T41 is the Linux laptop to have. They didn't simply agree on ThinkPad or ThinkPad T series—they all use and like one particular model.
Doc praised the T41's “Industrial-strength looks and race-car feel”, and he loves the high performance. “Everything works in Linux”, Robert commented. What happened to the good old days, when we waited for kernel hackers to buy the unsupported laptops first and get them going for the rest of us? The T41 has a 1400×1050 screen and IBM's famous three-year warranty and fast, competent repair service.
Any hardware whose speed gets compared to greased rodents is at least worthy of an honorable mention, and Greg Kroah-Hartman made that comparison in his vote for the dual-processor version of the Apple Power Mac G5, which is one Linux install away from being a great system. “It's fast, quiet and pretty to look at. With full 64-bit goodness for a very cheap price, what's not to like?” he wrote.
Reuven Lerner writes, “ClamAV is giving the commercial virus-checking programs a real run for their money. The combination of ClamAV and SpamAssassin has reduced dramatically the amount of annoying (and potentially dangerous) mail sent through my server.”
With this year's outbreak of e-mail worms for non-Linux platforms, ClamAV has been getting quite a workout, and Linux admins on mailing lists report that database update times are keeping up with or beating the proprietary alternatives. And, yes, commercial support now is available.
“I am beginning to think that Mozilla is the new Emacs—a cross-platform program that is solid and extensible”, Reuven writes. See the July 2004 issue for a tutorial and sample code to get you started on developing Mozilla-based apps, and see your nearest Linux desktop for a pop-up-free, standards-compliant browsing experience.
The GIMP Project has released its eagerly anticipated version 2.0 and regained its top spot as our editors' favorite graphics tool. Marcel Gagné writes, “With the addition of EXIF handling, CMYK support and a cleaner, better interface, The GIMP remains unchallenged on my Linux desktop.”
Although instant messaging apps and GUI mailers get all the demo time at Linux events, the text-based mailer mutt, which lets you configure practically anything, remains a cult classic. Greg writes, “without it there is no way I could get through an e-mail feed of over 500 messages a day.”
Don Marti uses Ximian Evolution for its calendar and contact list but sticks with mutt for mail. Use mutt together with Mozilla for convenient attachment viewing, or for a healthy dose of mind-blowing tweaked-out config files, try a Web search for “my .muttrc”.
“I began to use GnuCash several months ago and was very impressed by its features”, Reuven writes. “It has an impressive array of features and can be programmed using Guile. If you've never managed your finances before or are shaky on the idea of double-entry bookkeeping, the built-in tutorial will help you get started.” A financial tool without double entry is like a paint program without layers.
Practical books for the most technical people on the planet. Newly available books include:
- Agile Product Development by Ted Schmidt
- Improve Business Processes with an Enterprise Job Scheduler by Mike Diehl
- Finding Your Way: Mapping Your Network to Improve Manageability by Bill Childers
- DIY Commerce Site by Reven Lerner
Plus many more.