2000 Readers' Choice Awards

by Heather Mead

Roll out the red carpet, it's time to announce the winners of the 2000 Linux Journal Readers' Choice Awards. After another explosive year, the hype and trendiness have cleared to reveal (as we knew it would) that Linux is a serious contender in almost every market. Although some speculate that the development of all things Linux has settled down, we know the revolution is gaining breadth and speed. While we all look forward to the new applications, devices and services on the horizon, these awards are an opportunity to appreciate what we already have. Judging by this year's list of choices (the longest ever), not to mention all those write-ins, we have a lot. To get an idea of what voters said, I've included some quotes for each category.

Over 4,000 readers voted in 24 categories on everything from favorite programming language to favorite game. What overall moral can we discern from this year's responses? The percentage of voters with fervent opinions is directly proportional to those with caffeine addictions. Coincidence...I don't think so.

Favorite Distribution: Red Hat Linux

“I love them all.”

Red Hat Linux regains the top spot, the first time since 1997, with over twice the votes of the second-place distribution, SuSE. Mandrake doubles its percentage from last year to just over 14%, placing it third. Last year's winner, Debian GNU/Linux, falls to fourth place. Slackware has a respectable showing with 8.5% of the total vote. The most popular write-ins are FreeBSD and “roll my own”.

Favorite Office Suite: StarOffice

“StarOffice but quickly becoming KOffice.”

With over 63% of the votes, StarOffice is the clear winner; WordPerfect comes in second with only 12%. The office suite is a sore spot for many Linux users, as shown by the write-in comments. Quite a few voters apologize before picking Microsoft Office as their favorite, and almost as many decry, “None, they all suck.” Emacs, vi and clones, and GNOME Office Suite all make write-in appearances.

Favorite Desktop Environment: KDE

“Command line.”

While some proclaimed KDE dead with the announcement of the GNOME Foundation this past August, LJ readers chose KDE as their favorite desktop environment for the third year in a row. With 400 fewer votes, GNOME takes second place. Window Maker and Enlightenment are only 40 votes apart, but neither received more than 9.7%.

Favorite Word Processor: StarOffice

“WP8, only not that Windows junk.”

StarOffice claims a resounding victory in the word processor voting, racking up almost twice as many votes as its nearest competitor, WordPerfect. After those two, however, the results split into many processors with a few votes each, suggesting that this is one of the more personal categories, where everyone has an old favorite.

Favorite Text Editor: vi and clones

“Elvis—so good it deserves its own category!”

If people are loyal to their old favorites in any category, it's got to be this one. vi and clones, a broad list, is once again your favorite text editor, with almost 40% of the total votes. Emacs are popular in all their forms, Gnu Emacs, X Emacs and the LaTeX+Emacs combo. Some write-ins express a desire to see some vi clones, like Elvis and VIM, given their own, separate listings. Maybe next year.

Most Indispensable Linux Book: Running Linux

“What are these book things you refer to?”

“The whole O'Reilly series—life without them would be a disaster!”

Running Linux, by Matt Welsh, takes first place and Linux in a Nutshell, by Ellen Siever et al, takes second, in a reversal of last year's top two books. The margin was close though, with only 34 votes separating them. Looking at the complete list of vote-getters, the most extensive list for any category, many books appear indispensable to LJ readers. But not everyone is an avid Linux book reader; numerous write-ins show up for man pages and on-line documentation.

Favorite Web Browser: Netscape/Mozilla


“It's more of a necessity kind of thing.”

Judging by the write-ins, this category resembles another ballot choice U.S. voters face in November: the lesser of two evils. Netscape/Mozilla wins by a mile (over 80%), with the next closest browser, Lynx, receiving 201 votes. Konqueror racks up 77 write-ins, just cracking the top five. The rest of the write-ins are almost evenly split between messages like “Mozilla—NOT Netscape”, “I hate'm all” and “Internet Explorer—Sorry!”.

Favorite Linux Journal Column: Kernel Korner

“The nice thing is that with every issue another column stands out.”

“I must say, without being too forward, I enjoy everything you all do.”

Aw shucks...you're making us blush with all this praise. Now, we know you're not always happy with every issue (a certain cover shot seemed particularly upsetting to some), but you seem satisfied overall. Kernel Korner receives the most votes, making it the favorite LJ column four years in a row. Second and third place go to At the Forge and Best of Technical Support, respectively.

Favorite Distributed File-Sharing System: Gnapster

“What are you talking about?”

The Napster lawsuit gave rise to wide-spread controversy; it seemed like everyone had an opinion about it this summer. (You know something's up when Courtney Love sounds almost rational.) In our on-line vote, Gnapster proves to be the most popular file-sharing system with 45% of the votes. Gnutella comes in second with 34%.

Favorite Programming Beverage: Coffee

“Sadly enough, canned capitalism (Coke).”

“Sprite mixed with Fun Dip (cherry flavor).”

“Mountain Dew! Not just another soft drink.”

Perhaps some of the cranky write-in comments can be traced back to the results of this category. Stereotype be damned, we like our caffeine and if it's got sugar, even better. Coffee is the beverage of choice with almost 50% of the votes. Other soft drinks come in at a collective number two, although many write-ins do not like to see their beloved Mountain Dew collapsed into this larger category. Water makes a surprising appearance in the number three spot.

Favorite Linux Game: Quake 3

“No time for games.” (But plenty for questionnaires?)

“Install the operating system.”

In 1998, it was Quake and in 1999, Quake 2; this year, of course, the winner is Quake 3. X-Bill pulls 9% of the votes and Civilization: Call to Power takes 6%, to place second and third, respectively. Rounding out the top five are the free games NetHack and FreeCiv. We received many write-ins, suggesting, happily, that Linux gamers have more reasons than ever not to leave the house.

Favorite Linux Web Site: Slashdot.org

“eLinux.com. Talk about getting all the buzzwords in your domain name.”

“Are you kidding? All of them!”

While not exclusively about Linux, Slashdot is where we all go, judging by the vote tally. Slashdot easily claims victory for the third year in a row, receiving twice the number of votes as the second-place site, Freshmeat.net. Other popular sites include LinuxToday.com, the Linux Documentation Project and Linux.org. Favorite web site is another category with an extensive write-in list, of which the most mentioned is linuxfr.org. Tu parles français, non?

Favorite Instant Messaging Client: Xchat

“What else but Gnomeicu?”

A new category to the Readers' Choice Awards, just under half of all voters picked a favorite IM client. Xchat garners the most votes, picking up 20% of the total. Chomping on Xchat's heels, however, is Jabber; a mere 15 votes separate them. BitchX comes in third with 14. As for write-ins, gnomeicu is the most popular. Will everybody have a favorite next year?

Favorite Programming Language: C/C++

“Plain C (without the ++).”

The perennial C/C++ wins 40% of your votes this year. To everyone who took the time to remind us that C and C++ are not the same language, we hear you loud and clear. Second and third place go to Perl and Java, while Python continues to expand its fan base by claiming 8%.

Favorite Platform: Intel x86

“Amiga :) Running RH 5 and NetBSD 4.x.”

“Platforms that are really tall.”

While some of you claim to use it under protest, Intel x86 is the clear winner with 60% of your votes. The clone AMD, a popular write-in last year, made it to the official ballot this year and received just under 20%. Rounding out the top picks are PowerPC and Alpha. As a write-in, Transmeta makes its debut in the platform category—a preview of next year, perhaps?

Favorite Shell: Bash

“Turtle Shell.”

“Pathetic, Hollow Shell (of a Man).”

Bash won? It wasn't even close? You don't say. For the third year, the Bourne Again Shell demonstrates its hold over voters (and users), claiming 78% of your responses. In the distance are tcsh with 10% and ksh with 4.5%. A few write-ins express the preference to use bash for scripting while using another shell for everyday use. As for all the shell pun write-ins, who says geeks can't make a (bad) joke?

Favorite Development Tool: Gnu Compiler Collection (GCC)

“VIM rules forever!”

Development tool is one of several categories this year where the distance between first and second place is more than substantial. GCC, at 71%, received almost ten times the number of votes as the second-place tool, Code Warrior. And really, where would any of us be without GCC? An up-and-comer, KDevelop, grabbed third place through the power of write-ins. We'll add it the list next year, guys.

Favorite Audio Tool: XMMS

“My plain old radio.”

“One that works would be nice!”

Things sure can change in a year. In the 1999 Awards, XMMS appeared a few times as a write-in; this year, it's the clear and away winner. Receiving just under 50% of your votes, it wins by a healthy margin, too. In the closest finish of any category, second and third place were determined by a single vote—Real Audio and mpg123, respectively. And some of you are still gladly using your CD players.

Favorite Graphics Tool: GIMP

“My girlfriend says GIMP because she uses it (and is looking over my shoulder).”

“Photoshop...sob sob. Why won't they port this thing?!”

So this new graphics tool came out of nowhere...maybe next year. For now, the GIMP has a strong-hold on this category; this year it wins with 72% of the total votes. The next closest favorite tools are xv with 10% and CorelDRAW with 7%. Voters are pleased by the GIMP's versatility and its ease-of-use, especially for the less artistically gifted among us.

Favorite Database: MySQL

“The one that I don't need to admin.”

“FBI Database on Un-American Activities.”

Some database users engage in a war of words when it comes to MySQL vs. PostgreSQL. Our readers, at least the ones that voted, prefer MySQL by a 2 to 1 ratio. Oracle 8i R2 comes in third with almost 11%, making our top-three line-up a repeat of 1999's. None of the other databases received more than 3% of the tally.

Favorite Ad Filtering Tool: Junkbuster

“I don't use any (yet). Thanks for the tip.”

Judging by the low turnout for this new category, it seems like most of you use the old standard, manual filtering method: closing your eyes. Those of you who did express a preference choose Junkbuster as your favorite, beating SquidGuard by 40%. The most popular write-in filtering tool is AdZapper. Quite a few indies take the DIY approach and write their own proxies.

Favorite Communications Board: Cyclades

“Federal Communications Board (or is that Commission?).”

Um...that's not quite what we meant. To be fair, though, some of you wrote that you didn't know what we meant by this category, which could explain why less than half of all voters picked a favorite board. Among those who figured us out, Cyclades is the number-one choice, with 50% of your votes. Digi International comes in second and Boca rounds out the top three.

Favorite Backup Utility: tar

“Backups?!? Vee don't need no stinking backups!”

Okay, okay. While “real men don't need backups,” some of our more cautious readers like tar. This easy solution was quite vocal in 1999's write-in votes, so we added it to the official list this year—and it won. tar displaces last year's winner, BRU, by 46%, but BRU still comes in second. Arkeia and Amanda competed for third place, but Arkeia claims it with 11 more votes.

Favorite X-Server: XFree86

“Only use XFree86...maybe others are good; dunno.”

Do any of you guys use anything but XFree86? Apparently not. 93% of respondents choose XFree86 as their favorite X-Server. Accelerated X, in second place, acquires votes totaling 3.5%. The most popular write-in—it only took six votes to get there—is Xpmac.

More information about the Readers' Choice favorites and other Linux-related products and programs is available on our Linux Resources web site, http://www.linuxresources.com/

Moving to Seattle to study American literature, Heather Mead decided working was more fun than graduate school, and somehow became an associate editor at Linux Journal. She's working on a screenplay, but who isn't?

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