It's the end of the year, ladies and gentlemen, and that means it's time to break it down with some awards for the Linux and open source community. I thought this time I would go the route of the Oscars and give out the coveted Golden Tux awards for those applications, companies, and individuals deserving of the accolades.
I believe the nominees have concluded their march up the red carpet, the paparazzi have all been carted off in a SWAT vehicle, and the spotlight has just touched down on center stage. Let's announce the winners!
Best performance by a programmer/programmers
Android developers. 2010 was a HUGE year for the Android platform and no one is more responsible for that success than the developers for the platform. Although the mobile providers have tried to lay claim to this award, they have done everything they could to prevent the growth of the Android platform by getting in the way of updates (AT&T's inept handling of the Samsung Captivate update comes to mind). The single most important factor for this growth is those who work hard to develop the Android platform.
Best performance by a Linux/open source leader
There is no doubt 2010 was the year of Mark Shuttleworth. Regardless of your opinion of the Ubuntu Linux distribution, it is hard to deny that Mark Shuttleworth (and Canonical) has been one of the most powerful forces for Linux on the desktop. Shuttleworth made some game changing decisions with the move to Unity as the default desktop and Walyand as the successor to X Windows. It wasn't until we understood the long-term plans Shuttleworth was laying groundwork for, that everything became clear. Shuttleworth could wind up being one of Linux' most powerful forces (if he isn't already).
Best performance by a distribution on the desktopI have to once again hand another Golden Tux (albeit indirectly) to Ubuntu Linux. With the release of 10.10 everything that Ubuntu had done to move the Linux desktop forward gelled and Ubuntu Linux easily became the most promising desktop distribution for the masses. With the Ubuntu Software Center and the UbuntuOne Music service Ubuntu has become the first Linux distribution that could go toe to toe with any desktop operating system on the market.
Best performance by a distribution on the serverAlthough Red Hat Enterprise Linux is always a strong candidate for this award, this year the Golden Tux for the server goes to CentOS. CentOS is, basically, Red Hat Enterprise Linux without the cost. Granted there are some fine pieces of software you do not get with CentOS, but what you do get is on of the finest Linux server OSs available.
Most improved awardWithout a doubt, this award must go to the KDE desktop environment. When KDE 4.0 was released it looked like it was going bomb miserably. It was slow, buggy, and far from ready for public consumption. But 2010 saw more improvement in KDE 4 than it seemed in the whole of software. And because of that epic push towards stability and usability, KDE has finally been able to stand back up in the front lines with the likes of GNOME.
Most underrated performerThere are tons of applications, people, teams, etc., out there working hard to make Linux a reality for the world. Most of those go unnoticed. But in 2010 there was an obscure team of players in the world of Linux that stood out and that is Packetfence. The Packetfence developers were hard at work this year releasing version 2.0 and they made it with little time to spare. If you've never heard of, or tried, this fantastic Network Access Control application you need to. This tool typifies what open source is about and can handle the tasks of nearly any size network.
Best newcomer to the Linux stage and screen
Meego. Meego is a mashup of Moblin and Maemo and just might very well be the first Linux operating system to power tablets. But Meego is more than just possibility. Meego is already powering smart phones, in-auto computers, televisions, and more.
Best Linux "gadget" in a starring roleWithout a doubt, the winner of this category is the Amazon Kindle. Most of the general public do not realize this device is actually powered by the Linux operating system (2.6 kernel). Projected to reach sales nearly 8 million, the Kindle is the obvious front-runner for the eReader devices. And that it runs the Linux kernel only means one thing - it's only a matter of time before someone hacks a modded OS for the device that will do more than it already does.
And there you have it. The glitter, the glamour, and spotlights are all fading on a very productive and successful year for the operating system that no one thought would ever make it. In the end I would like to offer up a standing ovation to everyone that has contributed to the Linux and/or open source community in some way. If it were not for the community, Linux would not be where it is today. Bravo and congratulations.
Now - let's see what 2011 brings. Happy holidays everyone.
Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.