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.

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.

Server Hardware: HP ProLiant BL20p G2

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.

Personal Computer or Workstation: IBM ThinkPad T41

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.

Security Tool: Clam AntiVirus (AV)

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.

Web Browser or Client: Mozilla Firefox

“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.

Graphics Software: The GIMP

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.”

Communication Tool: mutt

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”.

Desktop Software: GnuCash

“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.

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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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