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Aug 22 2011

17th Annual Linux Journal Readers’ Choice Awards

When I consider how much time I spend in front of a computer monitor, I find it odd that I don’t really write much about computers here on my blog. I’ve been using computers in some fashion since about 1978, and I’ve formed some opinions about operating systems and applications during the intervening years.

Greg Laden’s recent post, Linux Journal Readers’ Choice Awards, reminded me of the many ways that we computer users express our opinions about our preferences. The 17th annual Readers’ Choice Awards, compiled by Linux Journal, are open for voting. The voting period will continue until 2011 September 2.

Here are my choices for most of the questions on this year’s list. I’ve skipped a few because they simply aren’t relevant to my own computer usage.

Best Linux Distribution
I really don’t have much experience with the many varieties of Linux available. The one that I currently use, Ubuntu, has been very stable and easy-to-use, in my experience. My wife and I both have desktop computers which run Ubuntu. We’ve used this operating system for about six years, and are quite happy with it.
Best Distribution for Netbooks/Limited Hardware
I haven’t used a netbook, but I do have a couple older computers which contain “limited hardware” by today’s standards. One of the machines, which I use for my home network’s router, runs the current long-term release version of Ubuntu. The other, which I’ve played with for some media on our television runs Xubuntu.
Best Mobile Linux OS
I don’t have any mobile devices capable of running any Linux variant, so can’t really make a call, here. I am looking at getting an Android device in the near future.
Best Desktop Environment
This is an extremely subjective opinion. Desktop environments are better because they do what you want the way you want them to. I use the GNOME desktop environment. I’m comfortable with it. I tried KDE briefly, but didn’t see that it would be better for me. I checked out the new default desktop for Ubuntu, called Unity, and quickly decided that I really didn’t like it at all. I’ll stick with what works for me, thanks. The GNOME desktop is very customizable, allowing for a great variety in appearance and operation. This is how my current desktop appears: Dan's GNOME desktop
Best Web Browser
I have several web browsers installed on my system. As I edit the HTML and CSS used on my blog (and a few other sites that I work on from time to time) I like to see what differences or problems exist across different browsing environments. For my own day-to-day browsing, I prefer to use both Firefox and Chrome. I have a few different plugins or extensions that only work in one browser or the other. Chrome seems to have a bit of an edge as far as memory usage goes.
Best E-mail Client
I don’t send out much e-mail. My primary email usage is for a variety of mailing lists. I’ve been using the default client in Ubuntu, Evolution, for several years, and it satisfies my needs for e-mail.
Best IM Client
I don’t use an IM client very often, but when I do, it’s pidgin. It handles the various accounts I have on services like Yahoo!, MSN, ICQ, etc. There are man plugins available for added functionality, too.
Best IRC Client
I used IRC a lot in the mid 1990’s. These days; not so much. I only have one actual IRC client installed, and it’s the same one I used sixteen years ago: ircII. It’s a command-line client, and has the basic functions that are required for IRC without a clunky GUI.
Best Microblogging Client
The only “microblogging” I perform is on Twitter. I use the Twitter web interface for my account management, but to read and post I use TweetDeck. The big downside to this software: The need for Adobe AIR. The TweetDeck client for Chrome is nice, but not quite the full deal.
Best Office Suite
I have the default suite for Ubuntu installed; LibreOffice. It does what I want it to when I need tools like that, which really isn’t very often. I used OpenOffice previously, and never had any difficulties with it.
Best Graphics/Design Tool
This really isn’t a fair category, in my opinion. Comparing tools like GIMP, Inkscape, and Blender as if they’re the same thing just isn’t right. They’re very different tools. Bit-mapped graphics, structured drawings, and 3D environments simply aren’t comparable. As I primarily work with bit-mapped graphics, GIMP is my tool of choice. I do use Inkscape and Blender when I require their specific functionality.
Best Digital Photo Management Tool
I’m definitely going along with Greg on this one. I find most of the organization tools for photographs to be rather annoying. Let me sort my own photos into the folders I want, name them what I want, and sort them how I want. The Nautilus file manager lets me do that very simply.
Best Audio Tool
The audio editor that fits my needs is Audacity. It’s very similar to the audio editor that I used on Windows (years ago), CoolEdit, which eventually became Adobe Audition. There are a great many plugins available, allowing for a wide range of capabilities.
Best Audio Player
The default media player/organizer in Ubuntu is now Banshee. It occasionally crashes, and some of its functions (i.e. audiobooks) don’t function. The previous default, Rhythmbox, is still my preferred music player. It does a good job of letting me browse and play the twelve thousand or so tracks on my hard drive.
Best Media Player
The VLC Media Player will usually play anything I happen to throw at it. It’s even available for Windows and Mac. I must admit, though, that xine does a better job of handling DVDs for me.
Best Cloud-based File Storage
I use DropBox to share files with a few people that I do a weekly podcast with. It works out fine for us. I do, however, also have a SpiderOak account. I like the fact that the data there is encrypted in such a way that even if captured from their servers, it would be unusable.
Best Game
Aisleriot solitaire provides all of my favorite playing card solitaire games in one place.
Best Backup Solution
I don’t use a “backup solution” other than burning chunks of data to DVD-R on occasion.
Best Virtualization Solution
I’ve only tried a couple virtual machine options, but the one I’ve come to use on a regular basis is VirtualBox. There are a few applications that I use which are not available as native Linux applications, and will not run adequately using Wine. Fore these apps, I rely on virtual machines running a version of the Windows operating system.
Best Revision Control System
I don’t really do much in the way of programming. WordPress uses the subversion program for their plugin repository. Because the only thing I’ve “programmed” in recent years is a WordPress plugin (Discordian Date), svn has been the only version control tool that I’ve used.
Best Scripting Language
I’ve been a long-time advocate of Perl, but primarily use PHP these days.
Best Package Management Application
I use the command-line utility, apt, on occasion, but generally prefer to keep my system up to date (and to install new software) using synaptic. It has nice search capabilities, and easily allows me to add software repositories.
Best Content Management System
I use WordPress for my blog, and I’m quite pleased with how it functions for readers, as well as the administration interface. For much larger projects, however, I’ve used Drupal a bit, and find it very robust, as well.
Best Linux-friendly Web Hosting Company
It’s time to plug the hosting service that I’ve been using since 2007: IndicHosts. Their service has always been wonderful, and any problems have been quickly addressed by their firendly, helpful staff. I’m happy to have such a good place to host my blog.

Those are my choices, where I had a preference. It’s an extremely subjective survey, but it is the reader’s choice. What are your choices?

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