Our September 2008 issue is going to focus on "underdog" software/programs, and we're looking for writers. If you're interested, please read on. What's an underdog? Well, for example, in Web servers, Apache is generally recognized as the top-dog, so an underdog might be lighttpd.

If there is no obvious top-dog to compare your underdog to, it's probably not an underdog. For example, if you use vi, emacs is not an underdog, it's just another choice. The vi/emacs case makes a good point: if your top-dog/underdog choice is sure to start a flame war, it's not a good set of choices. Similarly, between KDE and GNOME, there's no underdog (at least not since Ubuntu), but there are other possible underdogs to them.

An underdog also should be a reasonable alternative to the top-dog(s). So, for instance, if your idea starts with a phrase that goes something like, "I use a 33MHz 486, so I run Lynx cuz Firefox is a pig", that's probably not a useful idea. We want to compare dogs to dogs and not dogs to cats (or pigs).

To make a reasonable argument for why something is a good underdog, you also need to have some understanding of the top-dog(s). So, saying "I use Lynx and I've never tried anything else" isn't gonna cut it.

What the article should include:

  • Introduce the underdog.
  • Explain why it's a good alternative compared to the top-dog(s).
  • Discuss its features.
  • Discuss the features it has that the top-dog(s) don't have.
  • Discuss the features that it doesn't have that the top-dog(s) do have.
  • If it has special installation or configuration needs, give an overview of them.
  • If performance is an issue, include (if possible) some performance comparisons. These can be subjective evaluations.
  • If scaling is an issue, include some data to highlight the issue.

Possible topics (although other ideas are always welcome):

                  Possible                  Probable
Category          Underdog(s)               Top-dog(s)
GUI               xfce, Enlightenment       KDE, GNOME
Word Processor    AbiWord, KWord            OO Writer
Spreadsheet       Gnumeric, KSpread         OO Calc
PackageManagers   Smart                     rpm, apt
Distros           Gentoo                    pre-built distros
Graphics          ???                       GIMP
WebServer         lighttpd                  Apache      *taken*

Other possible categories, top-dog/underdog not as obvious:

  • Web Browser
  • E-mail client
  • IM/Chat
  • Compilers (maybe the Intel C compiler compared to GCC)
  • Integrated Development Environment

If you're interested in taking on one of these topics (or have a different underdog topic in mind), please send proposals to ljeditor-at-linuxjournal.com (plain text only). The deadline for completed articles is June 11, 2008.