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please note that some items may be least crap as opposed to best
Best Desktop OS:
to be both fair and objective here i have to admit that Windows2000pro is still one of the best desktop operating systems, it's stable enough, hasn't got all of that terrible Luna-blue-plastic-crap, and is modern enough to support new hardware fairly well, oh, and GTK2 apps run really nicely on it(while not as well as on X), of course, i'm focusing most on ease of use here, Linux still confuses the hell out of average desktop users during the installation phase, although that might just be because everyone who has trouble installing linux experienced problems due to a lack of knowledge in the area of partitionsing and are trying to install dual boot. however, once installed(or if installed on it's own with default options), Linux comes a (very)close second, and in fact wins in a number of areas.
Most Helpful online tech news site:
Interesting online communities/technologies:
Audioscrobbler did it for me, cool idea, quite well implemented but undergoing improvements and rebirth as Last.fm
Best Desktop Environment/User Experience:
GNOME2 with a little help from the likes of Redhat Bluecurve and Ximian industrial, a really clean and in my experience responsive UI, it's great to see the kind of commercial attention that GNOME has been getting this last year, and i hope to see great things from Ximian in future, maybe SUSE will start putting a little more thought into their GNOME desktop now that they're working under the same roof. i'm not anti KDE as such, but KDE users and developers don't seem to understand the reasons people get annoyed with them, why they can't moan to Trolltech about licensing instead of Bruce Perens about policy is beyond me. don't see GNOME people complaining about SUSE, Xandros, Lindows, Knoppix, etc. in fact, the Knoppix has been matched to some extent by Gnoppix, it already provides a much better desktop experience from the word go.
without a doubt The Mars Volta's Debut De-loused in The Comatorium, trult amazing, all i can say is go listen to it.
Best Graphics Application:
The GIMP 1.3.x has proved to be a great improvement, technically, from the 1.2 version, most of the UI is thankfully still pretty good, but a number of crappy hacks have been added to make Photo$hop users feel more at home, while ignoring the existing userbase whow find The GIMP's existing UI to be functional, shortcut keys logical, and right click menu efficient.
so, new users should find it much easier to get to grips with, which is great, but existing users will need to relearn parts of the UI, and all the tutorials need updating, oh well, that's progress, i still really like the thing.
that was terribly ranty and not very productive, but hey, isn't that what a journal's for