Readers' Choice Awards 2014

Coolest Thing You've Ever Done with Linux

This is my favorite new category for the Readers' Choice Awards. Imagine attending a Linux conference and asking everyone the coolest thing they've done with Linux. That's basically what happened here! We've listed a handful of our favorites, but for the entire list, check out:

Note: the most common answers were "use it"; "rescue data/photos/whatever off broken Windows machines"; "convert friends/family/businesses to Linux"; "learn"; "teach"; "get a job"; "home automation"; and "build a home media server". The following list is of our favorite more-specific and unique answers, not the most common ones.

  • Building my procmail pre-spam spam filter back in the mid-late 1990s.

  • 450-node compute cluster.

  • 7.1 channel preamp with integrated mopidy music player.

  • A robot running Linux (for the Eurobot annual competition).

  • Accidentally printing on the wrong continent.

  • Adding an audio channel to a video while also syncing it.

  • Analyzed NASA satellite data with self-written code.

  • Annoyed the cat remotely.

  • Automated my entire lighting setup in my house to respond to voice and my mobile apps.

  • Automatic window plant irrigation system.

  • Bathroom radio.

  • Brewing beer.

  • Built an application that runs on the International Space Station.

  • Built a system for real-time toll collection for a major toll highway system.

  • Built our own smartphone.

  • Built Web-based home alarm system on Raspberry Pi.

  • Cluster of Raspberry Pis to crack encrypted office documents.

  • Controlled my Parrot drone.

  • Controlled the comms for 186 Wind turbines.

  • Controlling my Meade Telescope with Stellarium under Linux.

  • Converted my old VHS family videos, using a laptop more than ten years old.

  • Created a mesh network in the subarctic.

  • Created an ocean environmental sensor buoy with radio data transmitter.

  • Discovered new planets.

  • Fixed a jabber server in Denver, USA, while in a hotel lobby in Amman, Jordan.

  • Got Linus' autograph on a Red Hat 5.0 CD.

  • Hacked my coffee machine to send me a text message when the coffee is ready.

  • Introduced my daughter to Lego Mindstorm EV3.

  • Monitor the temp and humidity of my wine cellar and open the doors when too hot or humid.

  • Replaced the controller in my hot tub with a Raspberry Pi.

  • Scripted opening and closing of a co-worker's CD tray every 15 seconds for four days.

  • Used an LFS system to move ACH transfers for a national gas company.

  • Flushed my toilet from another city.

  • Remote chicken door.

  • Web-based sprinkler controller for 16 stations on a Raspberry PI (also control the pool and yard lights).

  • Chaining SSH tunnels together to get from work to home via three hops due to restrictive network settings.

  • Built a system that monitors a renewable energy installation with two fixed solar arrays, a two axis sun tracking solar array and a wind turbine. Production and weather data are displayed on a Web site in real time.

  • Back in the days of modems, I had my computer call up my girlfriend every morning, so she would wake up and go to work.

  • Used a Wii controller, through Bluetooth with my Linux computer as an Infrared Camera, to detect the movement of my daughter's Fisher Price Sit and Spin Pony, and to control a video game.

It's time for another Readers' Choice issue of Linux Journal! The format last year was well received, so we've followed suit making your voices heard loud again. I couldn't help but add some commentary in a few places, but for the most part, we just reported results. Please enjoy this year's Readers' Choice Awards!

We'd like to make Readers' Choice Awards even better next year. Please send ideas for new categories and any comments or feedback via

Please see the December 2014 issue of Linux Journal for the complete list of winners.