December 15, 2010

Novell Names First Annual Dister Winners


Two enterprising software companies rose above a crowded field of strong entrants to win Novell's First Annual "Dister" Awards, each netting a $10,000 grand prize for their efforts. Radical Breeze and Anderware were the respective winners in the Commercial and Community categories of the Dister Awards, which highlights Linux-based software appliances using SUSE Studio.

SUSE Studio is Novell's Web-based appliance-generating tool that enables users to build SUSE-based machines that can be installed on devices via disk image or USB stick, LiveCD or LiveDVD, or as a VMware or Xen guest image. Users can even test their images live on the SUSE Studio site, finding any existing errors before deployment.

Novell has put together a tool that lets you add any packages you need for the appliance, and nothing else. But it it also gives you some basic templates with which to start building.

These templates enable SUSE Studio users to get a running start on their appliance building by picking and choosing what kind of interface they want, as well as establishing user and scripting configuration, right from the easy-to-use Ruby on Rails interface.

Radical Breeze, of Everett, WA, took top honors in the Commercial category for its Illumination Software Creation Station, a self-contained solution that allows users to visually design their own software applications with no programming experience required and no need for set-up.

Swedish firm Anderware championed the Community category for its Hypergrid to Go appliance, which allows users to easily set up an extension to the OpenSim platform to create a multi-user 3D world similar to Second Life.

In an interview with Radical Breeze President Bryan Lunduke ("the 'Pop' in the 'Mom and Pop' software company," as he describes himself), the software developer related his pleasure with winning the Novell contest with the appliance version of his company's Illumination Software Creator product.

In either standalone or appliance form, the Illumination Software Creator is designed "to be the easiest development environment for Mankind," Lunduke explained. Using a simple, block-based environment, users can piece together any programming element--windows, arguments, arithmetic--and when finished push out source code files for a variety of platform targets. Currently, Illumination Software Creator can export code for Python/GTK, Flash/Flex, or (through Eclipse and Java) the Android platform.

Putting together the appliance version of the Creator app was "almost a freebie" for Lunduke and his company. Though the standalone version of Creator can run on Linux, Windows, and OS X, quite a bit of fine-tuning is involved in make sure those platforms have all the right tools to work with Creator.

With an appliance version, Lunduke explained, all of the requirements could be built into the appliance, making deployment much easier.

Lunduke also appreciated the usability of SUSE Studio for his product. Releasing updates is very easy, he said.

"I just modify a couple of files, push a button, and I'm done," Lunduke explained. "It's even easier than building the RPM and DEB files."

According to a Novell press release, the contest also recognized two appliances for honorable mentions: the EasySpooler Appliance by ROC Software's Paul Scripko, in the Commercial category, and the BrowserBox appliance by Opera Software's Jacob Rask was honored in the Community category.

The contest also handed out a "Spirit Award" — recognizing a creative and innovative use of SUSE Studio that's useful to the community at large — to Gourav Shah of Efficient Frontier in India for his FreeSWITCHBOX appliance.

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