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2006 LnF Awards

Campbell Cawdor Tartan

2006 Light n Fast Awards

Campbell Cawdor Tartan

The Best Light and Fast Software In All Major Categories

No red carpets, no papparazzi, no one groping Scarlett Johannsen...nope, these awards are a little lower key, and a little less of a public spectacle. So, what are the Light n Fast Awards? Well, two years ago when I first got into Linux, I did so because I was looking for a lighter, faster alternative to ever growing bloat of Windows and its applications. As I learned about and then embraced Linux, I found a lot of things, but I never found the light and fast alternative I was looking for. Even so, Linux was SO much better than Windows that I adopted it as my new day-to-day computing environment anyway. In the back of my mind however, the wish for lighter and faster never went away. Then I read about Arch Linux, and suddenly "lighter and faster" was back front and center. Arch Linux is a 686 optimized distribution with a stated philosophy ("the Arch way") of "light and simple" - surely the perfect platform for light and fast.

I installed Arch Linux 0.7.1 (Noodle) and decided from the outset to build my environment around around a "light and fast" theme, solidly grounded in the excellent performance of Arch itself. No KDE, no Gnome, and to the extent possible, no KDE or Gnome applications that would require their respective environment's hefty run time libraries to be loaded. I have been successful in my quest, and now have a wickedly responsive desktop which sports all the same capabilities I used to have as a KDE user, but at a fraction of the CPU and memory cost.

The LnF Awards then, are my ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE nominations for the applications in each of the stated categories that provide 95% of the needed functionality at a significantly lower CPU/memory cost than their weightier KDE and/or Gnome cousins. Without further ado, the Campbell-Tx.Net 2006 LnF Awards:


Best LnF Linux Distro: Arch Linux: obvious, n'est pas? :-)
Runner Up: Vector Linux 5.1. Clean, fast, great for older hardware, needs better pkg dependency mgmt

Best LnF Desktop: XFCE4+Rox Desktop - everything you need, nothing you don't
Runner Up: IceWM+Rox Desktop. Loads almost instantly, less is more

Best LnF GUI File Manager: Rox File Manager. All the file management you need, nice eye candy too
(note: Rox's default icon set is fairly plain - get yourself the Rox-noia set, very nice)
Runner Up 1: tuxcmd, a dual pane GTK-based file manager rather like a GUI version of mc
Runner Up 2: XFileExplorer (xfe). Very nice, very fast Fox-based dual pane file manager

Best LnF Console File Manager: Midnight Commander (mc). Hugely capable and a great FTP client too!
Runner Up: none - nothing in the same class!

Best LnF GUI Archive Manager: Xarchiver. Linux's WinZip. Excellent for peering inside those tarballs
Runner Up: none


Best LnF Word Compatible Word Processor: AbiWord - Most of the features, none of the bloat
Runner Up: none - no obvious contenders

Best LnF Excel Compatible Spreadsheet: gnumeric. Excellent compatibility, very fast
Runner Up: none - no obvious contenders

Best LnF Powerpoint Compatible Chartware Editor: OO Impress. Not fast nor light, but no alternatives!
Runner Up: none - no other programs even in this space!

Best LnF PDF Viewer: acroread. Not so light, not so fast, but it is the golden standard
Runner Up: XPDF - amazingly useful after all this time, and very fast


Best LnF Image Viewer - feh. Very capable, very flexible, very fast
Runner Up 1: qiv. Very fast, very capable, very flexible. Not as many functions as feh, but a great viewer
Runner Up 2: xv. Venerable old image editor/viewer/manager still runs rings around many competitors
Honorable Mention: gqview. Very fast thumbnail oriented image viewer

Best LnF Image Editor - GIMP. Not really very fast or very light, but absolutely alone in its class
Runner Up: xv. Not in the same league, but a surprising array of very useful editing functions

Simple Text Editors (not optimized for programmers)

Best LnF GUI Text Editor: Nedit. Old school, but very, very capable, and very fast
Runner Up: Beaver. Very fast, very capable, some language support too

Best LnF Console Text Editor: VE. Tons of functionality, excellent user manual, tiny 70K executable
Runner Up: nano. The granddaddy of small editors, always a good choice


Best LnF Audio Mixer: qamix. It does it all with style and speed
Runner Up: aumix. Both console and GUI versions available

Best LnF Music Player: xmms. Does it all, takes only minimal screen real estate. No play lists though.
Runner Up 1: wxMusik - an iTunes look-a-like that works very well
Runner Up 2: gtkpod - plays music from (and manages) your iPod!

Best LnF Video Player: MPlayer. The king of Linux video players. 'nuff said.
Runner Up: gxine.

Best LnF CD Burner: graveman - oddball name for a clean, effective package
Runner Up: xcdroast - quirky interface, but does the trick and LOTS of options

Best LnF CD Ripper: grip. An excellent, excellent package. You're probably using it now
Runner Up: ripperX

Web, Email, FTP, IM

Best LnF Web Browser: Firefox. Not really LnF - the web's complexity demands complex browsers
Honorable Mention: dillo - very, very fast, but still quite lacking. Keep your eyes on it!

Best LnF GUI Email Agent: Thunderbird. Not LnF, but like the web, a complex solution is needed
Runner Up: Sylpheed. Streamlined, very fast and quite capable

Best LnF Console Email Agent: pine. An amazing email agent that still packs a punch
Runner Up: mutt.

Best LnF GUI FTP Client: gftp - traditional two pane client, clean and fast
Runner Up: two pane file manager FTP mode (see mc, tuxcmd, XNC - they all have it)

Best LnF Console FTP Client: command line "ftp" command! Can't get any faster, lighter!
Runner Up: none

Best LnF IM Client: gaim - wonderful multi-protocol IM agent.
Runner Up: no obvious LnF contenders (Kopete is very good for KDE users tho...)

Voice Over IP Telephony - With Video (VoIP)

Best LnF VoIP Client: gnomemeeting. OK, its gnome, but like GIMP, its alone in its class
Runner Up: none. Let me know if you find one

That's it folks, the Campbell-Tx.Net 2006 LnF Awards. Hope you enjoyed them. The following are a few notes on the availability of some of the less widely distributed applications mentioned above. With apologies to folks running other distros, these notes are oriented mainly towards fellow Arch users.

xv (image editor/viewer) is available from Arch's community repository, and from In addition, if you have another, RPM-based distro lying around, the Yoper 2.1 RPM for xv executes nicely under Arch 0.7.1. Yoper is another 686 optimized distribution. If you can get the Yoper RPM to install, you can simply copy the xv executable (usually in /usr/local/bin) and the documentation (/usr/share/docs) over to Arch. Since Yoper is 686 enhanced, the xv you get is 686 compiled. As an old Yoper user myself, this is how I got the copy of xv I am running on Arch.

ve (console text editor) is available from both AUR (Arch User Repository) and from The tarball you pick up at contains a 686 compiled binary that runs beautifully on Arch.

qamix (audio mixer) is avaible from AUR and from If you have any other distro installed elsewhere that includes qamix you can probably just copy the executable to Arch and have it work. I got my copy of qamix from a SuSE-9.3 distro that I had originally installed on my machine. Beats building from source, and the AUR version doesn't build - gets errors and stops.

tuxcmd (dual pane file manager) is available from Arch's community repository and from It is distributed as a binary, so just get, unpack and run. Very fast, very simple!

Xarchiver (archive manager) is a very recent new application. It is available from AUR and from The tarball you get from builds cleanly under Arch 0.7.1 - no muss, no fuss.