2003 Editors' Choice Awards
Sputnik AP 120 www.sputnik.com/products/ap120.html
Want to offer wireless Net access to your customers or neighbors? You can build a custom box with NoCatAuth, sign with one of the expensive startups or take your chances and go wide open—until now. Sputnik performed a marvel of Linux miniaturization to get a usable portal onto a relatively inexpensive access point.
Sputnik's access point includes centrally managed authentication.
Security Editor Mick Bauer writes, “The packet-filtering code in the Linux 2.4 kernel, although not new to 2003, really came into its own, bringing Linux firewalling up to the level of many commercial products. It's flexible and intelligent, with impressive connection-state-tracking capabilities.” Mick also points out that you can use the ubiquitous Netfilter right on the bastion host to add an extra layer of firewall protection, even if you use another firewall at the network edge.
Newisys 2100 www.newisys.com/products/2100.html
Michael Baxter called this dual Opteron, 1U server “superbly engineered”, as the 64-bit Opteron breaks through the memory limitations of x86 while keeping backward compatibility. Newisys-based servers are a hot item in today's competitive Linux server market, with many Linux server vendors whose integration and service we like offering them. And, they start GNU Emacs almost as quickly as most people's computers start Vim.
Dell Precision 650n www.dell.com/precision
Our reviewer Glenn Stone calls this dual-Xeon desktop system “serious hardware for serious work”, and admires the performance of its 320MB/s SCSI RAID subsystem and Dell's on-site service plan.
Mozilla 1.4 www.mozilla.org
Tabbed browsing, pop-up blocking, bookmark keywords—when we're stuck with other browsers they simply seem archaic, restrictive and awful. Konqueror is good too, but this time Mozilla barely beat it out as the browser for people who want to make the Web work their way.
No, this isn't the special prize for “not being The GIMP because they always win”. Greg Kroah-Hartman brings this bleeding-edge, alpha-stage video editing application to our attention, and we can't wait to do a full tutorial. More than only video editing, Jahshaka offers animation, effects, a character generator and file-sharing capabilities.
Marcel Gagnéwrites, “I used to scoff at instant messaging, but in the last few months, I have discovered it to be an amazingly useful communications tool. Sometimes, nothing beats a real-time, ongoing conversation when trying to resolve technical issues.” Gaim is, well, instant messaging for people whose friends don't agree on instant-messaging systems. As we go to press, Gaim supports AOL Instant Messenger, ICQ, MSN Messenger, Yahoo, IRC, Jabber, Gadu-Gadu and Zephyr.
Marcel also recommends OpenOffice.org, citing “nearly perfect support of Microsoft Office documents”. Everyone seems to like the word processor, but other useful parts of the suite include a drawing program and a presentation package.
Perl 5.8.0 www.perl.org
Reuven Lerner covers a different web development tool every month but keeps coming back to good old Perl. In the new version, he writes, “Most important is its support for threading and Unicode, both of which will help to propel Perl forward for years to come.” We like browsing the Comprehensive Perl Archive Network (CPAN) for modules that empower a short script to do exactly what you want.
Reuven also is a fan of PostgreSQL, a database that makes its fair share of appearances in our pages. “The PostgreSQL team has demonstrated that it is possible to produce a database with the price and ease of administration of MySQL, but with the feature set of Oracle. The only real competition is Firebird and SAP DB, both of which might make serious inroads in 2003–2004”, he writes.
The new 7.3 version offers table functions (functions that return multiple rows), schemas and prepared queries, as well as Unicode by default, improved logging and nonlocking vacuuming of tables.
Marcel points out that “What we need, however, is a dead-simple database application for new users who might simply want to create a Christmas card list or whatever. Just because we can create a full-blown relational SQL database and have it for free, doesn't mean it is always what the user needs.”
Marcel calls Webmin “a wonderful, low-resource tool that crosses distros and operating systems” and praises the integrated SSH application. Webmin standard modules can be used to administer any server software you can imagine, from Apache to voice mail to WU-FTP. Third-party modules make it easy for ISPs to delegate mail and virtual web host administration to customers.
Lindows Mobile PC www.lindows.com/lindows_feature_preinstall.php
Finally, a notebook computer with Linux pre-installed. Doc Searls would be happy with this box, based on a VIA processor and equipped with 256MB of RAM and all the expected extras, if he could get it away from his six-year-old kid.
Frozen Bubble www.frozen-bubble.org
Move along, people, nothing to see here, back to work. This could be the next Tetris. You won't often hear this from us, but whoever ported this thing to Microsoft Windows and Mac OS, thank you, because now it won't be only Linux users' productivity down /dev/crapper. New in version 1.0: 100—yes, 100—levels and a level editor.
Understanding the Linux Kernel, 2nd Edition by Daniel P. Bovet and Marco Cesati www.oreilly.com/catalog/linuxkernel2
This is a good one to keep handy if you get stuck on something in Kernel Korner, or if you dig building custom kernels and want to know how things work. We won't say which of the contributing editors voted for their own books.
Linux Weekly News lwn.net
Everybody's doing metanews—selecting the best articles from every news site—but Linux Weekly News does a good job of filtering the important Linux news from the drivel. And, they offer original content on diverse topics such as security alerts and kernel hacking—something to keep you happy between issues of Linux Journal.
SGI Altix 3000 www.sgi.com/servers/altix
Remember the world's biggest single-system-image Linux box from the February 2003 cover? We recently heard from SGI that Professor Stephen Hawking's research group at Cambridge University just bought one.
Steve Neuner of SGI wrote in February 2003, “When you look at the list of kernel additions included...the list is actually surprisingly small, which speaks highly of Linux's robust original design. What is even more impressive is that many of these and other changes are already in the 2.5 development kernel.” Congratulations to SGI for taking Linux up several steps on the food chain, and congratulations to all our winners.