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Get Out the Vote for

Ken Starks — I love him like a brother, but I hate following him every Wednesday here at FOSS Force after his Tuesday column runs, because every time — week in and week out — his column is always a good one.

He knows what I’m talking about, too, because he got to experience the same kind of thing at Ohio Linux Fest when his keynote came after Jon ‘maddog’ Hall. While I wouldn’t characterize Ken’s situation there the same way he did in his keynote — like Tiny Tim following Aerosmith — I certainly can relate. If you haven’t given his latest post a read, go ahead, I’ll wait.

Be that as it may, it’s time to vote. Every year around this time, trots out its annual Members Choice Awards. The 2014 version, which ends in February, certainly does not disappoint.

One great thing about this poll — probably the best thing about this poll — is that each of the categories has an extremely wide range of candidates, and there are programs in many of the categories that I’ve never heard of. Hearing about them for the first time, I get to try them out. So not only is it fun — yeah, I think voting is fun (so shoot me) — it’s also educational.

Here’s how we’ll do this: I’m not going to post every category, but I’ll post some of them and tell you my choice — vote with me or not, it’s entirely up to you — and then I’ll mention some of the programs new to me that I plan to try out. Conversely, you can post your own choices in the comments below.

Ah, democracy in action!

Desktop Distribution of the Year: My choice — CrunchBang. What I’ll try from the list — elementary OS

crunchbang logoLet’s start out with guns blazing. It would have been easy to vote for Fedora, which is clearly the best on the list and a distro I have on one of the desktops in the lab. A Fedora derivative from Australia, Korora, is my daily-use distro on the ThinkPad, and unfortunately it is not on the ballot (hmph!). The other distro I use frequently on a second laptop is CrunchBang, a Debian derivative using the Openbox window manager — a small distro with a growing following and a uniquely well-stocked forum of answers for CrunchBang and Debian. Since CrunchBang is on the ballot and Korora is not, I’m giving the British distro the nod.

Everyone tells me I have to try elementary OS since, apparently, it’s the flavor of the month. So I’ll give it a shot.

Desktop Environment of the Year: My choice — Xfce. What I’ll try from the list — MoonLightDE

Xfce_logoOkay, so here’s another category where we can either debate civilly or cross swords. I’m fine either way. I have always been a huge Xfce fan and I think that they’ve done a tremendous job over the years maintaining what a desktop should be — namely a place where icons live and are able to roam freely, unencumbered by being imprisoned in a dock on the left. KDE also gets high marks, and I know it will be well-represented in the voting. But I have to go with Balou the mouse here. As for MoonLightDE, it looks pretty interesting, especially since I have a lot of old hardware around.

Text Editor of the Year: My choice — Geany. What I’ll try from the list — Midnight Commander Editor.

Normally, the grenade I annually lob in the great Emacs-vs-vi battle would be vim, but I’ve been using Geany a lot this year (on CrunchBang mostly) and I happen to like it a lot. Arguably an IDE-based text editor like Geany could be considered by some as cheating, and I could see where that case could be made. But truth be told, as I get older I tend to lean toward the lazy, and Geany seems to have everything I need in a text editor. As for the tryout program, it’s rare that a program has a name that sounds like a superhero, so I’ll give Midnight Commander Editor (I’m assuming that it’s the text part of the file manager) a shot.

Graphics Application of the Year: My choice — Tux Paint. What I’ll try from the list — RawTherapee.

Tux Paint logoThis is a protest vote of sorts. I use Inkscape often and I like it a lot. Same with GIMP. My artist daughter uses both Inkscape and GIMP religiously — either of those two excellent programs will probably end up the winner of this category. However, a fantastic children’s art program like Tux Paint going up against the professional-grade programs on this list is just plain wrong, and I hope you join me in sending LQ a message by voting for Tux Paint. Incidentally, I found RawTherapee on Korora while looking for something else and I spent some goof-off time fiddling with it — I will be going back to it when I have more time — and it seems like a feature-filled program with either a steep learning curve or I’m just an idiot; possibly a little of both.

Mobile Distribution of the Year: My choice — Firefox OS. What I’ll try from the list — Open webOS.

For me, this is kind of a no-brainer. I use Firefox OS on my ZTE Open phone. While there have been bumps and hurdles along the way, it’s making great strides while it comes into its own as a viable mobile OS. Yeah, it may not have the bazillion apps that Android has, but the foundation from which this mobile OS is built is a solid one, backed by a lot of good people. Besides, you have to ask yourself: How many apps do you really need on a handheld device which has the primary purpose of talking to someone else? You might ask, “Hey, Larry, why Open webOS?” Well, I have a history with webOS — I had a Palm Pre once running webOS which I liked a lot, and I’d like to see where they’ve gone with the OS since I switched to Firefox OS.

So go and vote — you have two months — and tell us your favorites in the comments section below.

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