Readers' Choice Awards 2011

Best Linux Distribution


Runner-up: Debian

apt, apt and more apt this year in the distribution category. Although it's no surprise that Ubuntu remains king of the distros, it's nice to see Debian, the "father" of Ubuntu gaining some ground. Whether it's because Linux Mint is making Debian more user-friendly or because folks are drawn to the appeal of Debian's stability, it got just about half the votes of all the Ubuntu variants combined. Way to go Debian! Oh, and of course, congratulations to the winner and still-champion, Ubuntu.

The votes are in, the tallies are counted, the hanging chads have been evaluated, and we have our winners. This year holds a few surprises, a couple dominant players and as much open source as you can handle. We don't encourage gambling here at Linux Journal, but if you had an office pool going for pizza money, it's officially too late to make your wager.


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Where's Vim!?

Asigurari Locuinte's picture

Where's Vim!?

Sure the best distro is

Josh's picture

Sure the best distro is Ubuntu, no doubts dudes

Wow.. how many years of this

Anonymous's picture

Wow.. how many years of this process, and LJ still doesn't actually present the real results, or even graphs of results. Are we readers really that stupid?


Anonymous's picture

GNOME ЩЕЛЬ is sucks

Any chance of a single page view of this?

Craig2 can't have two craigs' even tho this is my name's picture

I have already clicked through 3 pages and am now bored trying to find sections I am interested in.

A Table of Contents/Index would be nice, or a way to see it all one page even.

Since most web developers

cioara's picture

Since most web developers using Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) tools are considerably more familiar and experienced with HTML and thus PHP, along with popular bwin MySQL database, it seems reasonable that Drupal, Joomla and a few other AMP based tools would be more popular. But to say they are the best, especially when many circumstances and requirements of web development require functionality and features outside their capabilities - like sophisticated "workflow", or an "Application server" to connect to Oracle, or PostgreSQL data stores, and particularly a qualifyable proven superior security model, show significant benefits of alternative Web software, like Plone CMS for example.

whata surprise

Anonymous's picture

ohh. whata surprise! aint it same list at 2009 and 2010

This is really a painful way to read this article.

millerb's picture

Would it be possible to post a table of contents and a precis rather than force us to "next" our way through a few dozen 3x5 card sized vignettes?


Complete Results

Linux4Lif88's picture

Could we see a complete list of the programs that were voted for, the number of votes and percentage of votes for each one. It would be nice to see where it each program finished on the complete list for each category.


aaaamazeee's picture


It's nice reading these

ioconnor's picture

It's nice reading these yearly ratings. I find I am almost always in agreement with one of your top two and sometimes learn good info.

Best games?!?!

Anonymous's picture

Ok both World of Goo and Battle for Wesnoth are excellent games, but really? This year there were many awesome games released for Linux! Just check and you will see many good quality games! Frozen Synapse, Oil Rush, Amnesia: TTD, Trine, Darwinia...


Anonymous's picture


Readers' Choice Awards 2011

Anonymous's picture


trolling for hits?

Anonymouser's picture

You should have heard the laughter in the conference room this morning when someone put the title on the link: half the devs in the room spit out their coffee.

As someone said, "Its like saying that people picked WinPhone8 over Android, Apple and RIM", it sounds out of place and fishy.
Maybe weve seen too many of these fake election results (the pre-planned coloured revolutions and the TWO GWB elections) that we dont even bother reacting to fraud but more people care about tech so lets hope this doesnt slide by.

But bad-weird-fishy articles can get as much if not more hits than good ones.


Tommy D's picture

Actually, GWB never lost any of the single recounts that occurred during and after the election; even the recounts done by a number of the liberal organizations--that's a simple fact, if not a bit off-topic.

I've been coding professionally for decades, so believe me when I say that Python is probably one of the best general purpose languages that exists. If you don't have much experience in it you're probably not going to understand why.

I've been a programmer for almost 30 years. I have extensive coding experience in COBOL, BAL, C, C++, Pascal, Java, C#, Python, and others. Simply put, overall, Python blows them all away. It's elegant, straightforward, light, powerful, and development in it is a joy.

interface lixo.

maicon's picture

interface lixo.

Thanks for compiling this

Ritesh Raj Sarraf's picture

Thanks for compiling this up.

And very comprehensive and well done. It indeed does show the right trend.

Choices are an individual thing, but I'm delighted to see some of my dear choices winning the seat: drupal, pidgin, eclipse and ofcourse debian and apt.

Ubuntu & Gnome??!!

Anonymous's picture

I see Ubuntu monopolizing Linux and that is the end of Linux's essence and our freedom.
Gnome 3, another about restricting freedom of choice.
LinuxJournal, I don't read your magazine any longer.

But you have the freedom to

Syralist's picture

But you have the freedom to choose some other distribution and window manager. I don't get your point.

Freedom of Choice

cwl's picture

I think the original poster's point was that if Ubuntu becomes synonymous with Linux then the Ubuntu way of doing things will become the default. You will have a majority of users who, enticed by Ubuntu's user friendliness treat Linux as just another Windows with no understanding of and no desire to understand technical or philosophical issues. To these people Ubuntu is the operating system not Linux. What does the "Ubuntu" operating system look like? It looks like the current default window manager, just like the various versions of Windows have a certain look and feel. Meanwhile people who embrace Linux for what it really is i.e. an operating system that gives the user total control only limited by his/her enthusiasm and ability to learn whilst upholding free software principles, will slowly become the minority. The founding principles will be submerged in a sea of popularist clap-trap. As I've said in other posts, if anything is to appeal to the masses then almost by definition it has to be "dumbed down". I would hate to see Linux go down that path.

Suse, Mint, and many other

Anonymous's picture

Suse, Mint, and many other distro's destroy Ubuntu.. Ubuntu going to unity is just BAD BAD BAD.. Horrible release.

biggest load of crap ever, LJ

Anonymous's picture

biggest load of crap ever, LJ just lost any credibility for me

You are right - this is ridiculous

MacMahon's picture

GNOME 3 product of the year!!! This has got to be the best joke of the year.

Gnome3 (shell) experience

Anonymous's picture

Gnome3 (shell) experience just lacks a matured global menu(under development as an extension) for the no 1 position in all desktop environments available in this universe.
I dont know ati driver issues still exists since i dumped ati.Congrats for the team and lets make it better.

Tsk, tsk. People who have .

Anonymous's picture

Tsk, tsk. People who have . in their path should know better, it should be ./configure, make, make install.

questionalble use of word "best" in Readers' Choice awards.

W. Anderson's picture

There are 2 categories where the "readers" choose software as the best, when empirical evidence would show that "technically" what is more popular or familiar is not necessarily the "best" product.

1. Best CMS
Since most web developers using Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) tools are considerably more familiar and experienced with HTML and thus PHP, along with popular MySQL database, it seems reasonable that Drupal, Joomla and a few other AMP based tools would be more popular. But to say they are the best, especially when many circumstances and requirements of web development require functionality and features outside their capabilities - like sophisticated "workflow", or an "Application server" to connect to Oracle, or PostgreSQL data stores, and particularly a qualifyable proven superior security model, show significant benefits of alternative Web software, like Plone CMS for example.

2. Virtualization
It is a matter of record that VMWare has more and better virtualization advanced management functions than any other at this time, including other big name VM products like IBM's VM, Microsoft's HyperV and RedHat kvm.
I suspect that because Virtualbox is FOSS and without costs, while VMWare and others commercial VM can be expensive, most Readers' Choice voters have good experience only with Virtualbox, which is understandable, but does not make popularity equal to best.


exuvo's picture

Are you insane, gnome 3 is awful. They broke working stuff and replaced it with useless touch interface.

Wordpress and Drupal are best CMS?

nerdess's picture

They might be the most well-known but that doesn't make them the best! Many people I came across that worked with either of them didn't like them (including myself).

The CMS future (for PHP) is

It's clean, well-structured (Zend/MVC-approach) and has a great community :-)

Best Game category needs an overhaul

Mozai's picture

"Frozen Bubble" ? "Battle for Wesnoth" ? STILL? After eight years? Oh come *on* guys, Linux isn't in the attic anymore when it comes to gaming. Hell, since "Google Docs" and "Gmail" got nominated for best Linux anything (when they are platform independent!), why not nominate some Macromedia Flash games for "Best Linux Game" ?

Seriously, there's plenty of resources to get your Linux gaming out of the rut of Tuxracer/ Wesnoth/ FrozenBubble. Linux now has a Steam-like with "Desura" ; there's a reddit sub-forum for linux gamers ; there are still new resources like (with criteria filters and video previews!) to ursurp the 1995 webdesign of Linux Game Tome.

I understand this reader's poll is based on what the readers know, it's not some editorial policy that's holding people back. There's so much more out there that's been written since 2003! World of Goo is just one of them!

Hell, were there any votes for Minecraft? It's java, but I'd call it Linux since it is packaged with Linux native libraries (and if you can call "Gmail" a linux application... why not something that actually runs on your workstation instead of just the surface facing?)


themainliner's picture

Speaking as one who jumped ship recently, I'm not sure how you could justify leaving Ubuntu on top of the distro pile post 10:10. I love 10:10 although it did nothing new, it did very like wrong. I enjoyed using Debian this year, but admit I crumbled to the path of least resistance and now use Mint. Ubuntu Unity is a shambles.

I thought I'd stumbled over 2010 run down.

I found a video which

Lucie's picture

I found a video which compares the two Debian and Ubuntu head to head. I prefer Debian (even if it is 2nd place)

you can change !

eddyflame's picture

If you don't like Unity, you can change others.
As a Linuxer, you should know, no distro restricts you !
In ubuntu, you only need to click your mouse a few times.

this is a joke right

Anonymous's picture

this is a joke right ubuntu... even its little brother mint kicks its ass. who voted here??

Shut up!

Anonymous's picture

Shut up!

no more ...

noelrobichaud's picture

There are no more Linux distros that are original. They're all trying to do the same thing. Of course this is a gross exaggeration or generalization, but the roadmap for a simple work environment has been bulldozed and replaced by distros that try to do everything.

I'm sick of Gnome vs. KDE debates - they both are heading in the wrong direction. I'm not looking to replace my Windows machines, nor my Macs. What I would like is an OS that does the Desktop Experience completely different, but I'm not about to throw away all my toolkits for a single OS that does everything I need. That will NEVER exist.

<3 I love Windows for Gaming - plain and simple, its #1 followed closely by the X360 & PS3 consoles.
:'( I hate that I spend more time maintaining my windows install than using it to compute.

<3 I love Mac OS X Leopard, Snow Leopard, and even Lion for the quality of the experience - Time Machine is a wicked tool for everyone, if Time Machine was a product on its own, I'm sure all Windows users would appreciate it, especially Systems Admins.
:'( I hate how temperamental OS X is after installing Flash; nor do I like how clumsy it feels if you don't clean the cache/tmp; don't even get me started on broken permissions! WTH is that all about? Imagine if an IBM Enterprise Transaction Server running AIX for banking had the same problem? System Admins throughout the world would be committing suicide with blunt instruments en-mass!

<3 I love Linux for the fact that so much quality software is out there, and that there are many different base versions available - enough to suite specific requirements of just about anyone.
:'( I hate that there so many using a single well known base, which I will not mention here *cough Debian cough cough*, and get away with changing very little of it - then are awarded meaningless #1 for year XXXX. WTH is that all about? Let me paraphrase Linus Torvalds by saying: 'That's because they're stupid and ugly.' [not an insult, just being playful].

<3 I love BeOS, still to this day, but it's gone and Haiku I fear is not being taken as seriously as it deserves to be. It is truly an original approach to computing. It is my adventure every time I'm feeling nostalgic and reminds me that modern hardware is even faster when treated nicely by a nicely coded OS like Haiku.
:'( I hate that Haiku is not taken seriously enough as, what I call, an Entertainment OS (meaning it's entertaining to play with).

<3 I love Unix because because All BSD versions are so good that every other OS tries to capture some feature set from it, then perhaps perfect it in their own right.
:'( I hate Unix because ... hmm, 2 words: VMS & Solaris. *puke* nough said!

I think its high time devices manufacturers followed very strict guidelines and made plug-n-play a reality by including the dam*ed driver as part of the firmware. I've been saying this since 1988.

I think the same is true for basic windowing features belonging as part of the BIOS of the motherboards. Stop re-inventing the wheel. Every programmer worth their salt knows that abstraction at the lowest level is always a good thing. Static code analysis is wonderful, and should be in rampant use - but it's not as popular as one might think.

That's my butt crack opinion, sorry for stinking up the place!

A very interesting take on

AlinaSka's picture

A very interesting take on things. Feels like I want to lookup BeOS...

Huh? Buntu Unity wins? Yeah right.

Anonymous's picture

I have no reason to believe anything that is posted on this site after reading this article.


Cirrus's picture

I to was disapointed to see ubuntu being crowned the "daddy" of linux distro's as it seems recently a shedload of their users have jumped ship due the the unity debacle, for me PCLinuxos rolling release is my distro of choice, i further agree that a text editor section should have been included.however great article, i look forward to reading ur mag every month.

Ubuntu 12.04 and Intel HD 2000 graphics

Gavin R. Putland's picture

Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin Alpha 1 is promising -- I'm using it to type this comment, and although it's an alpha, it hasn't yet crashed on me -- but it still doesn't support the full resolution of the base-model Dell Vostro 360 ("Sandy Bridge" processor with integrated HD 2000 graphics). See my short review for details.

These Intel processors with on-die graphics are becoming quite ubiquitous. The first Linux distribution that supports them "out of the box" will get a substantial boost.

46 slides with no 'all' button and nav missing on lots of pages?

Brendan Kidwell's picture

Webmaster, this post is a MESS!

Sorry about that. There was

Webmistress's picture

Sorry about that. There was a problem with navigation that made it a bit inconsistent, but that should be ok now.

Katherine Druckman is webmistress at You might find her on Twitter or at the Southwest Drupal Summit

Proposed New Categories

subogero's picture

Gnome3, Product of the Year? Come on.

Instead, it should have won the brand new Flamewar of the Year category, thanks to "the unholy mess that is Gnome 3" by Linus Torvalds.

Yes, we all want our Text Editor of the Year, vim. Would win the Scariest Program for Newbies of the Year ranking hands down as well.

And finally, what's really missing: Kernel of the Year.
Ladies and gentlemen, Linux.


Justin1031's picture

Im a new migrant to Linux this year and I have to say that I really dig VIM. I haven't used any of the other command line editors. VIM has been friendly to me, so I haven't felt the need to look elsewhere.

I agree with your other statements.

And ppl wonder why I'm sticking with CentOS

Anonymous's picture

Frankly, I'd rather run something newer but gnome 3 made the decision for me. Change and change for the better are not the same thing. XFCE would have made it but too many problems in the power mgmt for my tastes. Since I run off of a laptop, working power mgmt is critical.

And while we're on the subject of best package mgmr, I'd have to say yum handles everything I've asked it to do better than apt-get/aptitude ever did. I'm not saying apt-get was bad. Far from it, great package mgmt system. I just found yum worked better for me.

I don't wanna be "that guy", but...

jarubyh's picture

I honestly think that giving Ubuntu the honour of "Distro of the Year" is a little 2010. I will always remember 2011 as the year of Linux Mint, with even the latest release having a stable, fast and pretty desktop, much unlike everybodys purple favourite. Yes, Ubuntu is good. Yes, Ubuntu is popular. But Mint is better! I'm posting this not out of hate for Ubuntu, but for love of Mint. I also wanna point out that having an IDE section but no Text Editor section was a little disappointing: I wouldn't consider Vim an IDE at all, and the difference is readily apparent. It did pain me a self proclaimed "Just Another RUBY Hacker" just a twinge, but I quite understand that Python is a great language, especially for new learners: It's an excellent way to learn the concepts of programming (objects, functions, arrays, hashes, control structures, variable types, etc), has a good library collection, and runs well and stably. This isn't the place for me to share my opinions about Python, so I echo your sentiments: Congratulations to all of the people working on the Readers Choice projects, you've all done a great job, and I've used about 80% of the software on this list. Keep it up, and let's make 2012 a great year for Linux and Open Source. Hey, maybe even the year of Linux on the desktop? ;)

LibreOffice !?

Anonymous's picture

Best New Open-Source Project:

How can it possibly be called "new"?

Ubuntu is a looser

Carling's picture

Like the windows world windows user only know of windows, and those windows users that have found out about Ubuntu through the heavy Ubuntu publicity think it's Linux period, so I would say those that voted for it have never used any other Linux distributions that are far superior than Ubuntu, Yes Linux mint being one of them, Talk about brain washing. Every Linux website I visit these days is over loaded with Ubuntu articles, LXer being the main buntu brain washing site. It should be renamed LXer-Ununtu, These Ubuntu reviewers should get a life and try out other Linux distributions One that comes to mind is the latest Commodore Vision release that's mind blowing

"...heavy Ubuntu

Anonymous's picture

"...heavy Ubuntu publicity..."
"Every Linux website I visit these days is over loaded with Ubuntu articles..."

Good!! I was wondering if someone else apart of myself was realizing about this.

overly buntood

tyhee88's picture

Agreed about Ubuntu-I was shocked to see it listed first, until realizing that to many users, there is no other distro.

I also share the dismay over articles stupidly written for Ubuntu rather than Linux. Titles like "best 5 text editors for Ubuntu" which then go on to describe 5 text editors available for any distro really annoy me. Such articles are probably fine for Ubuntu fans, but strangely enough, there are other distros out there and the apps are written for Linux generally, not Buntoo. (However, I find with dismay some places compiling their "deb" packages as Ubuntu packages, as if they were the same thing."

Yes, it's called Linux (or GNU/Linux for those who wish to be accurate and don't mind the longer name)-not Ubuntu.

I've never tried Vision so make no comment about it.