‘Bossie’ Awards Crown FOSS’ Best of Breed

Well September is shaping up to be a banner month here in the world of free and open source software.

Not only did we recently learn the winners of this year’s “Bossie” (Best of Open Source Software) awards, but we have Software Freedom Day coming up this Saturday! Nothing like awards and parties to make a person forget all about hack attacks and other unsavory aspects of the daily grind.

This year, in fact, it’s more important than ever to celebrate Software Freedom Day, Linux Girl humbly suggests, what with all the patent to-do we’ve had in recent months. Make sure you get out there and whoop it up on the 17th!

LibreOffice, Android and Chrome

Meanwhile, just as Hollywood’s Academy Awards tend to dominate conversation for weeks in advance in some social spheres, so the Bossies have a similar effect in the Linux blogosphere’s bars and cafes.

Chosen by InfoWorld Test Center editors and reviewers, the annual Bossies recognize “the best and most innovative open source software products for end users, businesses and IT professionals,” in the press release’s own words.

Among this year’s winners are Drupal, Sugar, WordPress, Apache Hadoop, Git, Jenkins, Hudson and OpenStack, along with LibreOffice, Android and Chrome.

As per usual, Linux bloggers haven’t been shy about expressing their own opinions.

‘It’s Hard to Pick a Few’

“WordPress, SugarCRM and Lucene are great pieces of software and they are FLOSS as well,” blogger Robert Pogson told Linux Girl, for example.

“Tens of millions use WordPress for their blogs as I do, and Sugar may help me find a job soon,” Pogson added. “I use Lucene as one of many options for desktop/file searching — it’s smooth and reliable.

“Out of hundreds of thousands of good FLOSS projects it’s hard to pick a few that stand out, but on the basis of usage, these must be near the top,” he added.

“I would have recommended Apache web server and GNU/Linux, too, although those are not so much projects but ecosystems,” Pogson pointed out. “I think the Linux kernel is one of the all-time great software projects of any kind.”

‘I Stopped Reading’

Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza took issue with the way the awards were assigned.

“My only complaint about the list is that they are giving awards to the winner and the runner-up,” Espinoza explained. “For example, giving a ‘best of’ award to Drupal and WordPress, which both do the same thing.

“I stopped reading there, as it was clear that it was nothing but a popularity contest designed to increase page views,” Espinoza said. “Now they can give awards to lots of people to make them feel good about the contest, and make people care about it for next year. Pass.”

‘It’s Still Pretty Much a Duopoly’

Similarly, “it’s interesting that both Hudson and Jenkins were included, seeing as Jenkins is a fork of Oracle’s Hudson,” noted Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot who goes by “Tom” on the site.

“I would also take issue with one sentence from the press release: ‘The 2011 awards … reflect the dominance of open source software on the desktop, in mobile technology, in business applications, in application development, and in the data center and the private cloud.’

“It’s still pretty much an OSX/Windows duopoly for desktop operating systems, and closed-source applications still dominate many desktop software categories,” Hudson noted. “Of course, the shellacking that closed-source software is taking in the mobile OS field, the data center, and Internet infrastructure and services helps balance things out.”

‘All Top-Notch’

Slashdot blogger hairyfeet had a different focus.

“Did you notice that nearly every bit of software on the list except for the cloud stuff has a Windows version?” he asked. “While that makes me as a Windows user happy, it really doesn’t help Linux adoption any. What Linux needs is its own Visicalc, a ‘killer app’ that will help spur adoption just as Visicalc helped spur the original PC sales.”

Those that are on the list, however, “are all top-notch,” hairyfeet agreed.

‘That Is What Makes Good Software’

“The only thing I would add is, where is Blender?” he told Linux Girl. “It is truly an incredibly powerful piece of software.

“I had a client that was unhappy because the robot he is helping design for a NASA competition at the local college just doesn’t have the level of lighting realism he wanted with Solidworks,” hairyfeet added. “So I just sent him to this link on the Blender wiki and voila! Thanks to FOSS and a volunteer that wrote the import scripts, he is happily having his robot rendering in photo realism by Blender.”

That, in fact, “is what FOSS should be about — not about politics or factions, or all the GPL vs. BSD flamewars, but ‘can this software make someone’s day easier and/or better?'” hairyfeet concluded. “If it does, that is what makes good software to me.”

Katherine Noyes has been writing from behind Linux Girl's cape since late 2007, but she knows how to be a reporter in real life, too. She's particularly interested in space, science, open source software and geeky things in general. You can also find her on Twitter.

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