2003 Readers' Choice Awards

by Heather Mead

The 2003 Linux Journal Readers' Choice Awards saw the addition of a few new categories, mostly hardware, and the loss of a couple old ones—thank the heavens for built-in pop-up blocking in browsers. Overall, voting was up from last year; more than 7,500 people participated in 2003's four weeks of on-line voting. The results showed a bit of a shake-up in the Favorite Distribution category, but most of last year's winners are back this year.

Favorite Audio Tool
  1. xmms

  2. noatun

  3. mpg123

xmms continues to rule this category, taking the top spot for the third consecutive year. In its first year on the official list, noatun claims second place. Your new favorite write-in choice is mplayer.

Favorite Backup Utility
  1. tar

  2. Amanda

  3. Arkeia

Other than the Favorite Workstation category, Favorite Backup Utility seems to be the category least dependent on commercial offerings. In a repeat of last year's winners, tar, Amanda and Arkeia take the tops spots. rsync is the favorite write-in. Thankfully, fewer of you still seem to believe backups are only for wimps.

Most Indispensable Linux Book
  1. Linux in a Nutshell, 3rd Ed., Ellen Siever, et al.

  2. Linux System Administration, Vicki Stanfield and Roderick W. Smith

  3. Running Linux, 3rd Ed., Matt Welsh, et al.

Once again, the top three titles are the same, although Linux System Administration and Running Linux switched places this year. Many of the purists opt to rely solely on man pages. Judging by the sheer volume of write-ins and new releases that come through the LJ offices for review, the Linux book market is picking up speed.

Favorite Web Browser
  1. Mozilla

  2. Konqueror

  3. Galeon

Here, too, the top three choices are the same this year, with Konqueror and Galeon switching spots in 2003. Netscape's popularity continues to decline; 6.x received a mere 236 out of 7,362 votes in this category. Firebird is making a lot of noise as a write-in, coming in seventh place overall.

Favorite Linux Journal Column
  1. Cooking with Linux

  2. Kernel Korner

  3. Paranoid Penguin

Ah, Marcel; il est un homme savant, gentil and trés drôle. How can we not respect a man as concerned with raising our sysadmin awareness as with educating our wine palates? Many people also like Kerner Korner and its rotating author bylines—must be all the 2.6 news.

Favorite Database
  1. MySQL

  2. PostgreSQL

  3. Oracle 9i

After a brief respite last year, when InterBase claimed third place, Oracle returns to the top three this year. Although MySQL retains the top spot, PostgreSQL continues to narrow the gap. Firebird, the independent database based on InterBase code, is once again the favorite write-in vote.

Favorite Desktop Workstation
  1. Homemade

  2. Monarch AMD 2000+ System Special

  3. Los Alamos ULBx

Perhaps we should have named this new category Open-Source Junkyard Wars. Although Monarch, Los Alamos, Apple G5, Dell and a few Sun machines received votes, almost 90% of those who voted in this new category selected Homemade as their favorite workstation. Picture it: two teams of four people, $100, two days and a bin of recycled parts—just imagine what we could build.

Favorite Distributed File-Sharing System
  1. Gnutella

  2. Freenet

  3. MORPHEUS

Every time I see Gnutella, I think Nutella, that yummy hazelnut/cocoa spread from Europe. Apparently, Gnutella is almost as good. Freenet cracked the top three this year, pushing audiogalaxy down to fifth position, while spots one and three are a repeat of last year's. eDonkey is all over the write-ins, as are Kazaa, mldonkey and Bit Torrent.

Favorite Distribution
  1. Debian

  2. Red Hat

  3. Mandrake Linux

In a year of major talk of Linux on the desktop and boasts of super quick and easy installation tools, Debian claims first place in the distribution category for the first time ever. Is this a revolt by the hard-core technophiles? Or, is the seductive power of apt-get luring in new recruits?

Favorite Programming Beverage
  1. Coffee

  2. Water

  3. Tea

The beauty of this category is the write-in section, which offers a wondrous and intriguing display of personal tastes. The top spots are always coffee, water and tea. But the write-ins range from vodka to an assortment of microbrews to Yerba Mate and Tang. This year's winner for nastiest-sounding beverage: coffee with cinnamon and red pepper. PS: kudos to the person who correctly spelled Merlot with both an R and a T.

Favorite E-mail Client
  1. Evolution

  2. KMail

  3. Mozilla

Last year's attack on the top three position by GUI e-mail clients holds on for another year. mutt, in fourth place, had only half as many votes as Mozilla. Evolution, in its second year, bested KMail by only 151 votes.

Favorite Embedded Distribution
  1. Qtopia

  2. MontaVista

  3. Lineo

2003 is the second year the embedded category has been a part of these awards, and it received twice as many total votes as last year. Qtopia and MontaVista switched positions this year, and SnapGear Embedded jumped straight to fourth place its first year on the market. The most popular write-in is the Familiar Project for PDAs.

Favorite Linux Game
  1. Frozen Bubble

  2. Quake 3

  3. TuxRacer

More addictive than crystal meth, more entertaining than a Michael Jackson scandal and more dangerous than a lawyer defining “intellectual property”, Frozen Bubble jumped straight to number one in its first year on the official nominee list. Will it be replaced next year by Neverwinter Nights, this year's first place write-in?

Favorite Graphics Program
  1. The GIMP

  2. ImageMagick

  3. CorelDraw!

The GIMP won again; we know, we were shocked too. More interesting is the number of write-in votes that list Adobe Photoshop used via CrossOver Office.

Favorite Instant-Messaging Client
  1. gaim

  2. Jabber

  3. Kopete

By a three-to-one margin, gaim is once again your favorite IM client. Second and third place went to different clients from last year. Last year's runner-up, Licq, dropped to fifth place with only 388 votes. irssi is the favorite write-in for 2003. And although I don't know a lot about guns, I am fairly confident in saying a 12-gauge Mossberg 500A is not an IM client.

Favorite Programming Language
  1. C++

  2. C

  3. PHP

Quick, everyone to your keyboard: the flame war begins in 5, 4, 3, 2....In a reversal of last year's winner and runner-up, C++ moved into first place in 2003 by a mere 23 votes. Perl, meanwhile, got kicked out of the top three for the first time in the history of our awards. Continuing the C theme, C# is the favorite write-in vote.

Favorite Office Program
  1. OpenOffice.org

  2. AbiWord

  3. KOffice

For 2003, we combined Office Suite and Word Processor into a general Favorite Office Program category, which was won handily by OpenOffice.org. Out of 6,650 votes, 4,317 went to OpenOffice.org, followed by 477 for AbiWord. Free, featureful office programs are a good thing. And kudos on the significantly fewer write-ins for MS Office—have you made the switch or are you not talking about it anymore?

Favorite Processor Architecture
  1. AMD Athlon

  2. Intel Pentiums

  3. AMD Opteron

The frenzy of all things Opteron extends to this year's Readers' Choice Awards, where it premieres as your third-favorite architecture. Last year's third-place choice, AMD Duron, slips down to fifth place, with fourth place going to PowerPC. For the third year in a row, though, Athlon is the top choice.

Favorite Portable Workstation
  1. QLi 15" AMD Notebooks

  2. QLi Pentium 4 Notebooks

  3. QLi Centrino Notebooks

Another category new to this year's awards, Favorite Portable Workstation didn't receive nearly as many votes as other categories. And most of the votes we did receive came as write-ins. Almost everyone selected a laptop as their favorite, although the Zaurus picked up a handful of votes. Other popular write-ins were laptops by Dell and IBM, as well as Apple PowerBooks.

Favorite Network or Server Appliance
  1. Cyclades AlterPath ACS

  2. CommuniGate Pro

  3. SnapGear SME 550

We added this category to the awards for 2003 because of the sheer multitude of offerings on the market. The winners plus the many write-in votes demonstrate the variety of products that can fall under this heading. It seems a lot of you are using Cyclades AlterPath ACS (advanced consoler server) to manage networks remotely. And Linksys routers are near and dear to many voters' hearts.

Favorite Server
  1. SGI Altix 3000

  2. IBM DB2 OLAP Server

  3. Tyan Thunder K8S

It was our snazzy February 2003 Altix cover story, wasn't it? Or, did voters stumble across the big Altix machines on display at LinuxWorld New York 2003 last January? Either way, the love affair with the Altix 3000 is officially underway. Dell, HP, Sun and Compaq split the write-in votes, while some wonder why you'd buy a server when you can build one yourself—homemade was the first choice of the write-in voters.

Favorite System Administration Tool
  1. Webmin

  2. YaST

  3. Ximian Red Carpet

With the plethora of sysadmin tools now available, we figured it was time to give them their own category. Automatic updating tools had the most mentions. Capturing more than 30% of all votes, Perl-based Webmin is the winner. Coming in at a distant second is SuSE's YaST. Many voters, of course, said they need only a command line and vi or vim in some combination to handle their sysadmin tasks.

Favorite Text Editor
  1. Vim

  2. vi and clones

  3. GNU Emacs

Last year, Vim beat vi by twice as many votes; this year it received three times as many. The rest of the top three holds steady this year as the Emacs folks find more and more things they can do with it. But where's the love for Elvis? A mere 14 votes this year is the best we can do? As for Kate, having made the move to the official list this year, it winds up in fourth place.

Favorite Development Tool
  1. GCC

  2. KDevelop

  3. Emacs

Like The GIMP, GCC wins its category every year and always by a sizable lead. You feel almost sorry for their competitors. Although Emacs is in third place again, last year's second-place winner, Kylix, slipped to sixth place this year as KDevelop returns to the top three. Anjuta, which combines Glade, text-editing tools and a simulator in a single IDE, is the favorite write-in this year.

Favorite Linux Training
  1. SuSE Linux Training

  2. Linux Lunacy Cruise

  3. Sun Wah-Pearl Linux OpenLDAP Workshop

We know official Linux training is anathema to some of you (like reading a manual for just about anything), but now more training classes and programs are available than ever before. SuSE's is the most popular distribution-related training, followed by the RHCE program. The write-ins covered everything from man pages and users to self-study and Usenet. We're glad to see so many of you are finding the Linux Cruise useful as well as fun.

Favorite Linux Web Site
  1. Slashdot

  2. LinuxFR

  3. Freshmeat

In the closest race this category has seen in years, Slashdot beat LinuxFR by only 343 votes—pretty impressive when you consider 6,588 people voted. It's nice to see the rampant silliness of this year's freedom fries and freedom toast didn't extend to Da Linux French Page. Still, Slashdot is the first choice for updates on supercomputers, candidates for governor of California and two-hour Cadillac commercials—I mean Matrix sequels.

Favorite Web-Hosting Service
  1. Rackspace

  2. Hurricane Electric

  3. eZ Publish CMS

Perhaps this category is too new for regular Linux users to have developed a consensus. Only 893 people voted in this category, and 637 of those votes were write-ins. Rackspace is the only service to garner more than 10% of the vote. Or, perhaps people felt like one voter who said he found it hard to name his favorite because “I love/hate my host!” As usual, many of you take the DIY approach to Web hosting as well.

Favorite Desktop Environment
  1. KDE

  2. GNOME

  3. Window Maker

This category received the most votes of any except Favorite Distribution, which makes sense given the push for Linux on the desktop. With 44% of the votes, KDE is the winner for the sixth consecutive year. GNOME holds on to second place with 23% of the votes. Ion is the new favorite write-in vote, as last year's favorite, fluxbox, comes in fourth in its first year on the official list. Oh good, I was beginning to think I wouldn't see this write-in comment this year, but you didn't disappoint: “None, they all suck!”

Heather Mead is senior editor of Linux Journal.

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