2004 Editors' Choice Awards

We're excited about some great new Linux hardware and software, but we're still depending on some old favorites too.
Software Library or Module: Pango

This is a new category, but it's about time we recognized library maintainers. Library code saves time and prevents errors by letting people “outsource” parts of apps. We're always happy to see developers use a good library instead of reimplementing something from scratch. Reuven writes, “I want to thank all of the hardworking people who have worked on Pango and the other internationalization libraries and software that make non-Western scripts usable with Linux. Thanks to you, billions of people who don't speak, read or write English still can use open-source software. The fact that I can read and write Hebrew e-mail with the standard version of Mozilla or documents with the standard version of OpenOffice.org continues to impress me.”

Development Tool: BitKeeper

Greg writes, “It makes my life dealing with zillions of kernel patches sane. It is the only way I successfully can maintain seven different kernel trees and still have time to sleep.”

Linus Torvalds contributed a stunner of a quote to a BitKeeper company press release—“It's made me more than twice as productive”, he said. As if he was slow before. With that kind of testimonial, BitKeeper deserves a slot in any company's search for a new source code management system.

Database: PostgreSQL

“I continue to love PostgreSQL and prefer it over MySQL because of its features, stability, scalability, Unicode compatibility and adherence to standards”, Reuven writes. “That said, the MySQL team is making impressive inroads, and I expect to see them close the gap with PostgreSQL in the coming years. But for now, I strongly recommend PostgreSQL to anyone who needs a relational database.”

Marcel concurs. “PostgreSQL is still number one for me”, he writes. “This is a grown-up, powerful database, and the first I turn to when I need to create or use database-enabled applications.”

Mobile Device: Sharp Zaurus SL-6000 PDA

The latest Zaurus is Ibrahim Haddad's choice. Unlike previous Zauri, this one features USB host support, so you can use it with your USB devices for storage, networking and input. The screen is a pixel-licious 480×640, four times the area of the original Zaurus and the same as the Japan-only Zaurus SL-C700 we reviewed last year.

Game: Really Simple Syndication (RSS)

Our editors are all business and turned up their noses at selecting favorite games. These are the kind of people you want to hire to roll out your company desktop systems. But even though it might not look like Quake or Frozen Bubble when the boss walks by, there's a new hit game that Linux people are playing on the Net, and whether you want to call it blogging or social software, players are everywhere. It's like painting Dungeons and Dragons figures or collecting baseball cards, but with real people.

The glue tying it all together is a simple XML-based syndication format called RSS, which sites such as Technorati and software projects such as Planet are using to bring together Web content in new ways. Who's a blog king and who's a bozo? Pop in to Technorati to check the score.

Reuven points out that the all-in-one social network sites LinkedIn, Orkut and Ryze aren't particularly useful, but he says they're “all scratching the surface of something new and interesting.” It gets really interesting when social networking info crosses site boundaries and anyone can crawl it. Game on!

Technical Book (tie): Real-World XML and Hacking the Xbox

Paul Barry called Andrew “bunnie” Huang's Hacking the Xbox “a darned good read” in our January 2004 issue. The book is a matter-of-fact introduction to current issues in making hardware do what you want and not what fits into some company's business model.

Reuven writes that Real-World XML by Steven Holzner is “another big, thick book about XML, which doesn't really need big, thick books. But it offers some good explanations, sample code and discusses applications, including SOAP.”

If you're into well formed documents, get Huang's book; if you're into well formed solder joints, get Holzner's. Expand your mind.

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Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards (Security Tool)

Anonymous's picture

Once again ClamAV kicked @ss

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

Mutt rocks.. Very nice choice..

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Segundamano's picture

Yes, nice choice.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

Very surprised that Subversion & TortoiseSVN didn't make the list.

Good choice

Anonymous's picture

Hi Folks

As always this choice was one of the best. Great Idea. Go on and generate independent lists.

Bye

Marco from: Travel Hotel Deals
Yes, it's true - there are no more lovers left alive,
no one has survived... That's why love has died. PSB

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

I agree. Next to maybe ClearCase (very complex and expensive), the combination of Subversion and TortoiseSVN is unbeatable for the price.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

PostgreSQL better than MySQL. No surprise there... But how about MaxDB being better than PostgreSQL? Never heard of it? I'm not surprised. Most journos don't do their homework and just babble.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

MaxDB is MySQL (http://www.mysql.com/products/maxdb/), so I'm not sure this comment makes a lot of sense.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

maxdb isn't mysql . It is a completely different product - it was originally the back-end database for SAP (SAPdb), and was donated to the community as open-source.

MySQL AB have picked it up from there and developed it further, but it is still much more fully-featured than mysql. Don't let the URL fool you!

Another great open-source database is Firebird (http://firebird.sourceforge.net/). This was previously known as Borland/Inprise Interbase, and is another one which is more fully-featured than mysql .

CA Ingres has also been donated to the open-source community (http://opensource.ca.com/projects/ingres/).

I believe all three of these products to be superior to both mysql and postgreSQL . Just my two cents.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

I hope the Firebird DB project has fixed the major security hole (/backdoor) that was in Interbase.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

How can you pick as "Linux Journal" editors choice a product that requires the purchase of Microsoft Windows? (IBM T41 Laptop) It is not a linux product! That's like nominating a Hummer for most fuel-efficent vehicle, because once you go through the pain of installing the biodiesel conversion kit, it's a very eco-friendly vehicle!

-- Bob;

biodiesel doesn't require a conversion kit

bio-man's picture

bad analogy.

biodiesel runs in a diesel engine natively. no conversion needed. that's why it's called "diesel". straight vegetable oil (svo) would need a minor engine conversion.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

They didn't say it was a Linux product - they said it was the best laptop for running Linux on.

Project of the year - not!

Anonymous's picture

How can you give Ardour the project of the year award? First of all Ardour isn't shipped with every distro, secondly its totally unstable and unusable - IMHO Audacity or GnomeMeeting or Mplayer would have been better choices.

There are many other deserving projects for the "Project of the Year" award.....Mono, Open Office, Eclipse to name a few.

This is just another case of "ballot stuffing" by the author of Ardor and his cronies.

Re: Project of the year - not!

Anonymous's picture

> This is just another case of "ballot stuffing" by the author of Ardor and his cronies.

This was Editors Choice, not readers choice.
Ballot stuffing among the Linux Journal staff seems unlikely.

Re: Project of the year - yes!

Anonymous's picture

Ardour is too a worthy winner of the Project of the Year award.

It's been a long time coming but that's because there was a _lot_ to do, from the kernel upwards, to provide the required functionality and performance. Paul Davis, and a few others, have done a remarkable job in getting it all together.

Audacity is fine for lots of things, but is a _lot_ simpler than Ardour. AFAIK it can't be used for realtime stuff unless the developers have integrated it with the Jack audio server now. Jack was also created by Paul Davis, largely as part of the foundations for Ardour.

I'm sure the other apps you mention are worthy contenders too, but the Ardour devs deserve major recognition for turning Gnu/Linux into a tool for serious audio work.

Re: Project of the year - yes!

Anonymous's picture

> turning Gnu/Linux into a tool for serious audio work.

Sorry, but it's just way too unstable for serious audio work. It might someday be a tool for such, but it crashed no less than 5 times when Paul demoed it at the Linux Audio Developers' Meeting in Karlsruhe (in a 1 hour presentation).

He put this off as being the CVS version and thus unstable. So, still somewhat interested I came home, spent an hour or so finding and compiling the dependencies and finally got it going. There wasn't a single time that I was able to poke around the interface for more than 5 minutes without a segfault.

I'm willing to remain hopeful -- I've long wished for a decent non-linear audio editor for Linux, but Ardour really isn't there for production use yet. It really needs docs, some major UI polish (it's terribly ugly) and some stability before it will ever be much more than a toy.

Instabilities at LAC/Karlsruhe

Paul Davis's picture

For people who come across this via google or some other search:

It is 100% true that my Karlsruhe demo was appalling. But it was appalling not because it was a CVS version, but because we were in the middle of a massive, comprehensive, all-code-touching change to handle panning correctly (unlike all but a couple of proprietary DAWs, and certainly no free software that I've seen). I was hacking the code on the flight from Philadelphia without really understanding the implications of what I was doing. The demo that resulted was deeply embarrasing.

Today, several months on, its even better, and we can't wait to start on the path from 1.0 to 2.0 which will pave the way (by using GTK2 instead of GTK1) for a gorgeous GUI.

It took us nearly a month to get the panning changes stabilized, and by the time I demoed Ardour at a 2 hour workshop at the LSM/RMLL in Bordeaux in July, it ran without a single crash or restart for the entire demo.

Re: Project of the year - how can you tell?

Anonymous's picture

I'll offer this comment about Ardour; I'm the author of Postfish, Ogg and a regular contributor to Audacity. I've been hearing good thigns about Ardour for more than a year and have thus tried repeatedly to try it out.

a) No manual. No usable manual anyway. I know no one who uses it, so I have no 'live' manual to get me going either. Lots of apps don't have good manuals, but this goes along with b...

b) 'Angry fruit salad' user interface. Lots of functionality [apparently] brilliantly obfuscated by a million buttons in every imaginable color grouped randomly with no real UI intuitiveness to make up for the missing manual. I'm no newbie to pro audio; recording and mastering soundtrack CDs for local theatre groups is one of my pasttimes. But I cannot figure out how to even get started. I spend about an hour on step one every couple of months and have never succeeded in getting it to do anything with the 400G of raw digital audio sitting on my box.

...so the end result is that I've been unable to figure out how to find the most rudimentary starting-out functions. I already have all my audio; Ardour is too heavy to run on my portable recording boxes-- I have beaverphonic already doing my HD recording for the past several years-- so how do I do anything using Ardour with audio I already have? The manual's tutorials all begin with 'press the record button...' The FAQ says I can use it with my recordings, but the UI and manual conspire to convince me none of that functionality actually exists.

All this *is* a flame-- Ardour is supposedly good software but all it's done is waste my time and for that reason I'm annoyed-- but it's also a genuine request of the Ardour authors to help out all us poor folks that aren't Ardour hackers to get started. I'd love to see what this package can do and give it a fair shake.

Monty

Re: Project of the year - how can you tell?

dmarti's picture

Monty, thanks for the great article idea. I'll cajole one of LJ's Ardour-heads to get started on a tutorial. -- Don

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

What, no Asterisk? Asterisk IS the killer app. Hands down. The applications mentioned apply to people who use them for personal reasons. EVERYONE uses the phone to communicate. And Asterisk brings it to a whole new level. Now any SMB/home user can create a
world class phone system (PBX) on the cheap.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

I use Asterisk in a production enviroment without reset everyday.
Really this is a incredible software!

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

The only problem is that Asterisk is not stable enough to be used in production system. You have to restart your Asterisk every day which of course is not acceptable if you want to make a living in telephony world.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

It's just silly to list RSS in the "game" category. Surely they could have come up with something a little better. What of UT2004? It had a Linux release for both 32bit and 64bit Linux kernels, which is a first for a commercial game AFAIK.

In the gaming world, LJ is obviously not in touch with reality.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

You're assuming gaming means computer gaming. What if someone made a great Linux-themed boardgame?

But yeah, nominating blogging is a bit silly... that belongs in a communications category, along with email, web forums, and instant messaging.

Re: 2004 Editors' Choice Awards

Anonymous's picture

How could they miss DansGuardian (http://dansguardian.org) from such awards??

Best Browser, Best Graphics

Anonymous's picture

First Post! Okay so it is no big deal on a site like this but I thought it was a bit bizarre that the story was dated August 1st already (it is definately still June 31). It makes sense that the stories are released automatically but seach tool gave the game away.

I'm not overly impressed by Mozilla Firefox, page rendering is not any faster (same rendering engine), startup time actually seems worse, and i do want the extra components, I use Composer quite often. But those of us who prefer to stick to Mozilla Seamonkey seem to be in the minority.

The Gimp wins in the graphics category again, it seems like it always does but Inkscape is getting really good, maybe next year?
http://inkscape.org

Re: Best Browser, Best Graphics

Anonymous's picture

The composer component is now available (and much improved!) as a separate program called nvu.

http://www.nvu.com/

Complaining that you can't use composer just because FF doesn't have it built in is silly.

Re: Best Browser, Best Graphics

Anonymous's picture

> Complaining that you can't use composer just because FF doesn't have it built in is silly.

I never said anything like that at all.
I do use Composer (and sometimes Moz Chat) and with Mozilla Seamonkey it is built in which is far more convenient (one download all in one place, dirt simple) and because the Gecko rendering engine is shared I get the most important changes and updates. The other changes in Firefox are not significant enough that I'd want to complicate things even if it is only a small complication. There is no benefit for me in having things as seperate applications, I just cant see it. There are other minor changes in Firefox and little things removed that bothered me occassionally.

Sometimes less is more but in the case of Firefox I just dont get it.
Am I the only one who want to keep holding on to Mozilla Seamonkey?

I have heard of NVU (crap name unfortunately) but I have checked it out in ages, so I'll have to give it another go so thanks for the reminder.

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