Tux the Penguin reading books

FOSS Academic

Tuxies 2021

Linux Unplugged is at it again: it’s Tuxies time! I voted, and you can, too. Unlike last year, this year they’re using a self-hosted Nextcloud form – brilliant! Like last year, I’ve voted based on my experience as a FOSS Academic. My picks may not win – but they might just help you live the FOSS Academic Lifestyle Dream.

Tux the Penguin Wearing a Tuxedo

Best Newcomer/Became Well Known

I’m going to keep pounding a drum few of us will hear, but Zotero needs to be known about. Zotero, which is a bibliographic management system, released a beta of a new PDF reader and annotator which has greatly improved how I do academic research.

Text Editor

Nano. It just gets things done.

Distro of the Year

Manjaro. I predict Fedora’s going to win because it was constantly discussed on Linux Unplugged and I suspect the listenership will go with it. But I switched my main work laptop from Debian-based distros to Manjaro this year and have been so impressed. I didn’t realize what a relief it is not to have to worry about doing a massive upgrade – just keep rolling along instead.


I use Ubuntu LTS servers for stability, so I probably have no business making this call. But I have been impressed by the organizational structure of AlmaLinux. Every time I hear one of their representatives speak on podcasts, I can just hear their unwavering commitment to creating a community-owned enterprise Linux server distro. In fact, I think I need to study their structure a bit further.

Desktop Environment

This one won’t win, but I love MATE and will defend it with crysknives. I’ve said it before, but when it comes to desktops, I’m a Linux Luddite.

Largest impact

I suspect Pipewire will win, but I think Wireguard has been brilliant. I’ve used it extensively to create a virtual private network of devices, including Android phones, all using an installation of Pi-Hole to block unwanted traffic. In fact, right now I’m serving Jekyll from one machine over the local network to another via my Wireguard VPN.

A big, big benefit I’ve seen is countering some bad practices from my ISP: if I listen to internet radio streams on my regular connection, they are dropped after a few minutes. Run them through Wireguard and the streams will flow for days.

Self-hosted service

Pi-hole. Ad-blocking, local DNS, child-proofing my kid’s computer, blocking Facebook from my network… it’s all possible with Pi-Hole. Couple this with Wireguard and I can block ads on any connection, anywhere in the world.

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