2005 Linux Journal Readers' Choice Awards
Editor's Note: This article has been updated since its original publication..
We overhauled the voting process for this year's Readers' Choice Awards in the hope of creating a fairer system that voters were involved in every step of the way. As such, we accepted nominations from readers in 31 categories and then held two rounds of voting to get this final list of your favorites.
Some readers were surprised by the list of candidates that made it to the final round. For instance, the big-name distributions, such as Debian, Red Hat and SUSE, were nowhere to be found. Although these absences may seem odd, we call these the Readers' Choice awards because they are exactly that—these are the products and tools our readers are using and loving this year.
Here we present the top two vote-getters in each category. In categories where vote totals were particularly close, we have listed the top three finishers.
For the sixth year in a row, XMMS is the first-place finisher in the audio tool category. So you know XMMS plays MP3, OGG, WAV and CD audio file formats. You also probably know that it supports a whole bunch of third-party input plugins. But do you know about its equalizer and playlist capabilities? Do you know about its advanced plugins for file I/O, special effects and visualization? If not, you must have missed Dave Phillips' article on “Getting the Most from XMMS with Plugins” (see the on-line Resources for links to articles), which covered some of the functionality that helps keep this classic tool a favorite.
We split backups into two categories this year to differentiate between simple tools that can back up a single system (see Favorite Backup Utility below) and more complex programs administered centrally to back up multiple machines. Although not as flashy as some other backup systems, Amanda (advanced Maryland automatic disk archiver) offers “a reliable platform for many Linux and UNIX users who are comfortable with a command-line interface”, according to Phil Moses, who wrote about it for us in “Open-Source Backups Using Amanda”. Apparently, many of our readers agree.
Even though many backup tools are available from vendors, we know that our readers often prefer to stick with the basics. Thus, your favorite backup utilities, tar and rsync, are basic command-line tools that were separated by less than a hundred votes in this year's competition. You can do a lot with tar, from building basic single-file archives to creating multivolume backups. Sometimes, though, the most tried-and-true tools are the ones we take for granted, so to learn more about what you can do with tar and rsync, take a look at these past LJ articles: “The Skinny on Backups and Data Recover, Part 3”, “LVM and Removable IDE Drives Backup System” and “rsync, Part I and Part II”.
Celebrating its tenth anniversary this year, MySQL once again scores the top place in this year's voting. Besides offering more features than ever, MySQL also is being included in more big-name vendor products, thanks to the ever-increasing popularity of LAMP applications. In “An Open Letter to the Community from MySQL Founders David Axmark & Michael ‘Monty’ Widenius”, the founders offered these impressive stats: “over 100 million copies of MySQL have been distributed” through the Web site and operating system distributions; approximately 40,000 new downloads every day; more than 1,500 projects on SourceForge.net are using MySQL; and current users include Craigslist, Slashdot, Wikipedia, Bugzilla, Technorati and the Human Genome Project.
The dot.kde.org site carried a link to the Readers' Choice voting page this year—did the extra promotion to KDE fans make the difference? As detailed below, this year's favorite distribution is GNOME-based while the favorite language is the base language for KDE. People seem to be using the best technologies from both environments.
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One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
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