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Editor's Note: The Top 10 Stories for 2005

Dec 30, 2005, 23:30 (6 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Brian Proffitt)

By Brian Proffitt
Managing Editor

For most of us, this weekend will mark the end of an old year and the beginning of a new year. When transitions like this occur, it is natural to look back and figure out how the last 12 months went. Did I have a good year or a bad year? Am I happy or sad? That sort of thing.

Being the publication we are, it is inevitable that we will choose to reflect on what happened with Linux in 2005. Specifically, what stories were the most read by you, the reader? What grabbed your attention? On what issues did you hold the strongest opinions?

Hence, this list. No arbitrary editorial opinions about what were the "hot" stories of 2005 here--this is all by the numbers, the top 10 most-read stories on Linux Today in 2005.

10. The Linux Box: How To Speed Up Firefox
This was an early story, posted as a tutorial on Jan. 4. Firefox has continued to be one of the strongest stories in the open source community, very likely because so many people have been attracted to it, whether or not they use Linux.

The success of Firefox has truly been fun to watch. Here we have an open source product that runs so well and fills such a perfect need that no one cares who made it or how it was made. It is, then, Microsoft's worst nightmare: a great product they can't brand, buy, and (apparently) copy. Here's to more success in 2006. (11705 reads, 9 talkbacks)

9. Editor's Note: Here Comes the Backlash
Right before LinuxWorld Expo in Toronto, I wrote a series of articles that outlined the tension between the world of the commercial distros and the community at large. At the time, Sun was trumpeting OpenSolaris hard and many in the Linux community were razzing the Mountain View company.

At the time, and today, I think there's more to it than the rivalry of an opposing operating system. Sun, Red Hat, Novell, and IBM have all been guilty of taking the community and its resources for granted. They seem to be taking the "if you build it, they will come" mentality to its least logical extreme. "Look!", they shout, "here is product X! See how cool it is? Come help us build it!" But the community is getting wise to this. Open source projects need to be truly collaborative--not sources of free or cheap labor for corporations looking to save a buck or two. (11900 reads, 31 talkbacks)

8. Pocket PC Thoughts: PalmOS Is Dead
This game between Palm, PalmSource, and Linux turned out to be a bigger "will they or won't they" event than Brad and Angelina. Certainly it was more complicated.

The latest is this: PalmSource wanted to use Linux, but Palm wanted to use PalmOS. Then Palm started flirting with Microsoft to run WindowsCE on their devices. The Japanese company Access Co., Ltd., meanwhile, bought PalmSource and has every intention (we think) of promoting Linux as a new successor to PalmOS on Palm. Will Access be able convince Palm to use a Linux-based OS? Or will Palm fall to the tempatations of Bill and his Redmond Romancers? One thing's for sure: the fate of PalmOS seems certain. (12474 reads, 13 talkbacks)

7. FOXNews: Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument
The tagline alone should have been the giveaway. Fox News comments on OpenDocument? Hoo boy. But comment they did... or so we were led to believe.

You see, the commentary, which railed against the notion of political actions deciding the technology to be used (and yes, let's pause to let the irony of that statement sink in, shall we?) by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, was penned by none other than James Prendergast, executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership. ATL is one of those lobbyist/think-tank organizations that Linux Today readers know very well. And when the readers saw the Prendergast byline, they went after Fox News pretty quickly and got a disclaimer posted on Fox's Web site: "The column 'Massachusetts Should Close Down OpenDocument' that appeared on FOXnews.com Sept. 28 identified author James Prendergast as executive director of Americans for Technology Leadership, but failed to disclose that Microsoft is a founding member of that organization..." Nice to see the truth will out, after all. (12526 reads, 90 talkbacks)

6. ZDNet Australia: Firefox Plugin Delivers HTML-Style Audio and Video Browsing
How hot was Firefox? Hot enough that tutorials for Firefox and its plugins consistently ranked high on our traffic lists. (12756 reads, 1 talkbacks)

5. Torvalds Re-Kindles GNOME vs. KDE
It was one of those days where you don't think a lot is going to happen and you make plans to spend some quality time with Iagno. Then someone sends you a link to an OSDL message thread, and all heck breaks loose.

Clearly Linus Torvalds felt the need to speak his mind. In so doing, he has re-kindled the age-old debate between what makes a desktop environment good. Is there an answer here? As always, the final decision on what is a good user environment lies with the one person who knows: the user. (13405 reads, 38 talkbacks)

4. Linus Torvalds: Linux 2.6.12
Not everything Linus said stirred up such a fuss. Most of it was very welcome news, as in the case of this announcement of the latest stable kernel release in June.

The Linux kernel development process still tends to be one of the best models to hold us as a success case for open source and free software. And it's nice to see its popularity continue to grow. (18317 reads, 8 talkbacks)

3. Editor's Note: Free as in... Vista?
It was a notion that took on a lot of momentum. The theory is: will Microsoft, in its desire to compete with Linux, make at least one of its many iterations of Vista (I think we're up to seven, now) free as in beer?

The notion was based on the supposition that Office, not Windows, is the real money-maker for Microsoft and that they could afford to give a "Windows-lite" version away so it will look like they are passing discounts on to the comsumer. Am I right or wrong? Looks like we'll all find out in 2006. (18631 reads, 52 talkbacks)

2. Editor's Note: Screed Attempts to Silence Voice Against SCO
I don't often comment on the methods and approaches of my professional colleagues. It's a bad habit, and it tends to lead to the kind of yellow journalism found in the days of the New York World and the New York American Journal, when truth was secondary to laying a blow on your opponent.

Still, enough was enough. My voice was just one of many who protested the alledged outing of a blogger named Pamela Jones. But I am glad I had my say.(20282 reads, 107 talkbacks)

1. Community: Why Is Novell Chopping Its SUSE Linux Workstation and Desktop Product Line?
And then there was this one. When Kurt Pfeifle first sent me this story, I ultimately chose to run it as an community/opinion contribution instead of a straight news story. Little did I know that it would become news itself.

But what I found most curious at the end of the day is that this story brought out many facts and many conclusions. Novell would ultimately dispute many of the conclusions successfully, none of the facts in the story were wrong--including the part about the now-aborted plan to use just GNOME as the default interface for Novell's enterprise product line. That revelation, and its conformation by Novell, would bring forth a surprising amount of animosity towards Novell, which eventually backed down from the single-interface plan. (39818 reads, 95 talkbacks)

So there you have it. Your top 10 stories for 2005. 2006 is already looking very interesting, with the SCO trials starting, the release of Vista, and (I predict) another major acquisition of a Linux company by one of the big distros for the express purpose of enhancing their desktop efforts. The likely candidates? Linspire is the most attractive of the bunch. Yes, technologically they are dead-even with Xandros, but Linspire has already made some inroads into the small- to medium-sized business space and has more contacts with independent software vendors.

Who will buy? Perhaps Novell. They have the desktop know-how already, what with their acquisition of Ximian, and goodness knows their SUSE engineers will be able to re-tool anything the Debian-based Linspire has under the hood. But don't rule out Mandriva as a buyer. They have the desktop strengths too, as well as a big international presence. The Debian technology hurdle may not be a deal-killer. After all, earlier this year, it was rumored that Mandriva was thinking about joining the Debian Core Consortium.

And, just to make things interesting, don't rule out Mandriva as an acquisition target. Novell would do well to pick them up, because it would increase their already strong desktop offerings and international channels.

Something to think about as the new year rolls in.

In the meantime, be happy, be safe, and be well.