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Author:  Gremlette
November 24, 2008



 

 

What is available for the Graphic Designer
on Linux?

I think it is probably safe to say, that if you have searched for this article, you may already realise the benefits of dumping the Windows or Mac installation …. but what about all that proprietry software that you have been using for years?

I agree that it is a good thing to be able to include some big software names on your CV but at the end of the day it is your creative ability that sings the song of greatness in your portfolio. If you have experienced a variety of graphics packages, you of all people should know that using a different or lesser known package to get the result does not affect your ability to use a chosen proprietary package or the quality of the result achieved one iota.

Specifically raised as important to the Graphics Professional are the following programs. All of these are part of what we would normally include in a custom Linux install service at Symsys Ltd.

Vector Graphics Software for Linux

INKSCAPE is the most popular choice for industry professionals within the Linux community. Whether you are used to Illustrator or Corel (two very different packages) Inkscape has literally combined all the best functions into one and allows you to customize the package layout and panels to suit your way of working. There are now no CMYK issues, it includes colour mixing palettes, barcoding, diagram building, node editing and so on. This will open AI, PDF… even ICO and WMF. EPS import does work on the Linux version, but it has bugs that are being currently ironed out. The best thing is, you know the cure is never far behind and as with most open software, a huge community is there to help you and each other out. 

Photo Editing Suite for Linux

As a graphic Designer for some 15+ years now (crikey), I know that we need something much more than just a meager ‘paint program’ or ‘digicam suite’. 

GIMP is THE Photo Suite solution for Linux. Like Inkscape, do not be suprized if you feel a bit like it is Photoshop or Paintshop Pro re-skinned, because of the familiarity. I assure you it is 100% built as new from the ground up between thousands of minds, as an open source project. At the end of the day, all the icons, menus and features are built upon common sense and popular preference. Yes, it will open your layered PSD’s and TIF’s complete with colour profiles as well as EPS with no problem:)

We would normally also include  ’ Digikam ’ on Graphic Design Linux systems as well as any standard home user installation. Digikam is a light version that gives the capability of importing photo libraries from your camera with common editing features. Digikam now allows you to batch process red eye correction – that can be handy.

CAD Package for the Linux User

Now in all honesty, I have not personally had the occasion to use CAD packages all that extensively, but being experienced in pre-press and other design scenarios, it has been required on a few occasions.

KCAD seems to be the number one option and looking at the screen shots I do see a lot of familiarity in the layout and use of the program. It is confirmed that KCAD does open and saves files in DXF format which satisfies one of the main determining factors of program selection – compatibility.

A related Graphics tool included in the designers pack is the Gwenview image viewer.

PDF and Printing for the Linux System

Naturally, Adobe now finally offer a free PDF viewing program for Linux just as well as it does for any other platform.
Most Linux distributions are equipped with CUPS, the Common Unix Printing System, by default, however any that don’t have it in their repositories so they are simply a command away or a few clicks if you’re using a GUI front-end for the package manager.

Pstoedit - This converts PDF files to Vectors – EPS, EMF, AI etc and back again in most cases.

Xpdf  is a very efficient open source viewer for PDF files. Even though Adobe do supply a free viewer these days, I include this in a Graphic Design package for Linux for other valuable features that Xpdf has. The Xpdf project also includes a PDF text extractor (PDFtoTEXT), PDF-to-PostScript converter, and various other utilities. It can use Type 1 or TrueType fonts.

TC PDF  is a good PDF creation program to try out. It supports Barcodes, spot colour, gradient, transparency etc.

Refer to ‘Page Layout’ and Scribus at the end of this post for everything you could possibly need to know.

Even More Design Pro Software

I have outlined the Linux solutions above that are main concerns for the graphic designer. After that, you will soon find that there are absolutely tons of gadgets out there once you know what you are looking for. Just always remember to put keywords into Google like ‘Open Source’, ‘GPL’, ‘GNU’, ‘Linux’ etc… then what you are looking for and you’ll be sure to find one or more alternatives.

FONTS

Fontforge – A Font editing tool.
On the subject of what can be every designers nightmare – Font Management.
Have you tried Fontmatrix? There is a good reason that we choose Debian Lenny for new installations. Debian seem to be really on the ball when it comes to developing better solutions on things that matter to the Designer. Get Font matrix from Debian
 

PAGE LAYOUT

Scribus is what you need. You will find that Scribus offers everything you require to produce professional page layout for everything for pre-press simple layout to award winning magazines. Go to the Scribus website to find many well informed resources for DTP including quite a bit for PDF tools. 

 

You should now be really beginning to wonder why companies continue to strangle themselves financially, with keeping up extortionately overpriced packages like Quark and Adobe. If you are out on your own though, hopefully I have shown you the way to a productive and creative career without having to take out a small mortgage to pay for the packages to succeed.

Some of you may start to look at certain design and production centers in a new light.

Some companies are more like ‘sweat shops’. I have worked in a variety of situations that may sound very familiar to some of you, such as the company that cannot afford enough licenses for you to do your job without borrowing someone else’s machine, ofter resulting in lowered pride in work, poor budget on necessary equipment and even having to share computers. Bad decisions like spending the maximum amount on software and minimum amount on the increased caliber of equipment to run it, makes for nothing but poor wages and miserable staff, which leads to a high staff turnover, and ultimately lower standards, which all leads to making a lower profit.

Some companies invest so much into proprietary software that they cannot or stubbornly will not let it go when it becomes desperately outdated, or no longer fills the requirement. It is very poor management to take preference to a big brand name … that in reality doesn’t to the job any better, over your staff, and sometimes if not usually these days, this software is not as good as an available open source equivalent.

 

Donate Donate Donate!!!!!
Keep the Open Source projects alive and well. Remember these incredibly powerful tools are provided to you free (Mostly “as in beer” AND “as in speech”, but at the very least “as in beer”), but the time and money required to allow this to be possible doesnt grow on trees (Even though it’s made of paper, which is made of wood ….. never mind you get the idea). So, If I just saved you  $5,000 NZD or more, per computer, because you didn’t need Windows, or that Adobe Creative Suite CS3/Corel Draw after all .. Please donate to the relevant sources and keep the community going. 

 

Following Editions:

 

Linux PC Setup for the Web Designer, 

Linux PC Setup for the Multimedia Designer

And on to the Geek, the Office, the Corporate, Fun and recreation, and for the kids.


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Author:  Symsys
September 25, 2008



 

 

 

The Best things in life are FREE, FREE FREE!

This is a list and links to our preferred selection of FREE software available for Windows that are specifically CROSS PLATFORM. This means that you can try out totally FREE and functional programs out on your Windows installation that you can ALSO use on Linux. Of course, there are MORE feature rich applications available for permanent Linux users, however these have been selected to help your transition

from..

Pay Pay …

to Free Free.
These are all specifically chosen because they work on Windows and Mac as well as Linux.

Once you are ON Linux, it has a built in feature that allows you to hunt software down by keyword or genre that gives you a list of everything imaginable to download and automatically install for free. Now doesn’t that sound better than laborious hunting for things or only really only being able to see what is pushed down your throat that you have to pay an arm and a leg for? 

The links will all take you to the relevant sites so you can find out more and decide whether to download or not. This page does not just serve as a recommend list for you, but also serves as a regularly used link page for us at Symsys.

FREE CROSS PLATFORM SOFTWARE DOWNLOADS 

Get Open Office

Get Open Office

Download Thunderbird

Thunderbird

 

 

 

 

 

 

OFFICE: Open Office Version 2.0 is Just as functional as MS…. but costs nothing
Open Office version 3 has now been released but with the extreme popularity of this suite, EVERYONE and his dog is downloading it at once. Go get Open Office V3.

OUTLOOK: Mozilla Thunderbird 2 Powerful spam filtering, solid interface, and all the features you need. Closest thing you can get to Outlook – Completely FREE and cross platform. Their tag line is ‘Reclaim your inbox’ :) (hmmmm is that not the same tag line for ‘spam arrest’ yet we don’t know who used it first – nothing is sacred these days unless you purposely protect it). There is one thing closer to Outlook which also supports MS Exchange but this is ‘Evolution’ (now also reviewed) but is NOT available for Windows. 

Download AVG

Download AVG

Download ClamAV

Download ClamAV

Clamwin WINDOWS vers

Clamwin WINDOWS

 

 

 

 

 

 

ANTIVIRUS: AVG When you install, TRY to get RID of any search bar Yahoo content if you can. Yes the pain in the *** Yahoo got at them. One the previous version this was considered fantastic and relatively unobtrusive – the new version tends to eat memory process while running (but I have not tried reinstalling without Yahoo bloat yet). Just set it to run at a time you are not usually using the computer (which unfortunately for me is practically never)

 ’CLAM AV’ This is what I will be installing today on Windows to replace AVG and it has already been very successful on our Linux installations. It may be easier for WINDOWS users to go straight to the WINDOWS Download Page

Both AVG and Clam AV offer a commericial ‘pay for’ version with added features.

 

Download XBMC X-Box Media Player

Download XBMC

Download VLC

Download VLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

MEDIA PLAYER:

VLC Media Player …Quote “VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network. ”
 XBMC XBox media Centre. Originally written for xbox, then ported. The best full-on and free media suite – Majorly cross platform. 

 

Download Pidgin Messenger

Download Pidgin Messenger

Download aMSN Messenger

Download aMSN Messenger

Download X-Chat

Download X-Chat IRC Client

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MESSENGER/S:

Pidgin Quote “Pidgin is a multi-protocol Instant Messaging client that allows you to use all of your IM accounts at once.”
aMSN Alternative to MS Messenger that is Cross Platform. 
X-Chat 2 IRC client. 

 

Download Gimp

Download Gimp

Download Inkscape

Download Inkscape

Download Blender

Download Blender

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRAPHICS:
GIMP Photo editing application that rivals Photoshop in features. 
Inkscape Vector graphics application.
Blender Powerful 3D Modeling software. 

 

Download Peazip

Download Peazip

Download HJSplit

Download HJSplit

Download IDisk

Download IDisk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FILE UTILITIES: 
PeaZip Fantastic archiving utility to extract and pack archives of an extensive amount of formats. PeaZip also features password protecting archives, keyfile support, system integration, a lovely interface, and much more.
HJSplit Easily split and rejoin large files 
I Disk Handy disk viewing utility

 

Download Kompozer

Download Kompozer

Download FileZilla

Download FileZilla

Download Wireshark

Download Wireshark

Download Azureus

Download Azureus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WEB:

KompoZer Easy to use, open source WYSIWYG html editor. 
Filezilla Excellent FTP program. 
Wireshark Network Protocol Analyzer, formerly called Ethereal. 
Azureus A powerful, but complicated BitTorrent client. So many features you’ll lose your mind. 

 

Download Audacity

Download Audacity

Download Celestia

Download Celestia

Download Stellarium

Download Stellarium

 

 

 

 

 

 

OTHER:

Audacity Simple sound recording tool. 

Celestia Open-source 3D planetarium software. Akin to traveling through space (outer space). 
Stellarium ”Renders realistic skys in realtime.” See what you would see if your city wasn’t so light-polluted. Used in real planetariums.


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