A Blog about Linux, Open Source and Code! 
Symsys Inform Blog Home

Symsys Ltd Text logo in the banner area



I didn’t think Adobe would ever release Creative Suite natively for Linux

And the fact is they still might never do it. But, and believe me this is a big BUT, through the course of something completely different and irrelevant, I had the ear of a Senior Engineering Manager in the Installation, Deployment and Licensing department at Adobe the other day, so I asked the question, not surprisingly his response was that there didn’t appear to be any real requirement for Adobe CS products to be released on Linux natively and so with that in mind it would probably never happen. I replied to his email politely, but with somewhat of a rant about why there was a business requirement for CS to be released on Linux natively, expecting it to be completely ignored, I couldn’t resist while I had his ear though of course.

Senior engineering manager agrees with comments

The reply I got to my Linux rant was rather surprising indeed and even more pleasing, it basically said, “I read through the Linux rant and I agree with a lot of what you said, so I’ve passed it on to our business team”.

Could this mean I’ve made some headway? Or could he just be blowing smoke up my ……. Well I’d like to think of course that I made some sense in my little rant, I’d also more importantly like to think it’ll make some sense to the business team as well. I’m not sat at the machine I wrote the email on at the moment so I can’t simply copy n paste, however the points I made have been on my mind for some time, so I’ll try to summarize them here for you, let me know if you think they make sense or not and if you think the business team will just ignore it, or take heed and actually make a move eventually. I can’t see my little rant being the reason that Adobe suddenly announces it’s going to bring out CS on Linux, but I’d like to think the rant helped if it happens.

Designers are free spirited

And that tends to lead to them wanting to be different from the norm, hence a lot of designers using Macs instead of PCs. I know many designers, including our very own Gremlette, who have dual boot systems with XP and Linux on the same machine, unfortunately the requirement within a designers job to use Adobe products, not just Photoshop and Illustrator which can occasionally be by-passed with GIMP and Inkscape (Although not always as those products are not quite perfect and are meant as an alternative not clones) but things like In-Design and Acrobat Professional which don’t really have any comparitive or competetive products available freely or in fact for Linux at all really, keeps these designers like Gremlette tied to Windows. Given a choice of Linux or Windows XP if both could run Adobe CS4, I know Gremlette would choose the Linux machine and I know many more designers too who would switch from both Mac OSX and Windows to Linux as well.

Microsoft share prices are low, if Windows 7 fails like Vista then

Where does that leave companies like Adobe, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise that Windows 7 may well be a complete and utter f**k up just like Vista was, it’s likely to be less of one I admit, but now that Apple have released Snow Leopard and there’s a new Ubuntu release every 6 months, which is MORE than just usable but in actuality fantastic, plus KDE4.3 being an absolute and resounding success with likely an even better release by the time Windows 7 even hits the shelves, not to mention other distributions releasing every year or less, it’s going to be hard for Windows to compete really, let’s also not forget the almighty Google, who lets face it, don’t really fail at anything they try to do, are going to release Chrome OS somewhere between now and 2011, does anyone really think that Windows is going to continue competing for much longer?

Another valid point on this subject is the recent actions of major OEM machine manufacturers like Dell, HP, Lenovo, IBM, ASUS, Acer etc. All of these companies and more, have recently made agreements with companies like Canonical and Novell to use Ubuntu and OpenSUSE as their OEM operating systems, this has started out small time, but my genuine belief as to why they’ve even initiated these deals is that they’re just as aware of the fact that if Microsoft goes bust or at least faces major financial problems that prevent it from keeping it’s position in the market, they’ll be left without an operating system to use OEM. If that happens, what would Adobe do with no native Linux release available to sell to all the customers now running Linux, lose a hell of a lot of money is what.

Microsoft do have a track record of releasing a terrible OS, and then quite a good one to recover

But the fact is a lot of people are truly sick of Microsofts new-found ultra-paranoia, with Windows Genuine Advantage getting worse and worse it’s like the DRM of operating systems, and we all know how many people love DRM don’t we. Now Windows 7 is built on Vista, so it could go one of two ways. Windows Vista is the new Windows ME, just as Windows 98SE was the new Windows 98. Windows 98 was a pretty terrible OS, it crashed more than anything else ever had, it could run much when it first started and it had more problems than a de-hydrated dog with both Mange and Ticks, Windows 98SE however was fantastic in comparison, it was built entirely on Windows 98, it had the same interface, just as Windows 7 appears to have the same interface as Vista (Which is not really a well liked one I must admit). Windows 98SE was definitely a hit, but then they blew it, they released Windows ME, the MOST diabolic operating system MS has released to date, it didn’t just crash it ate hardware, refused to recover things it had deleted itself, half the time it wouldn’t boot up and to make things worse you couldn’t get a refund or an exchange or a downgrade.

Windows XP first release was terrible, SP1 was better, SP2 was fantastic, SP3 made the OS almost unusable and completely in-compatible with hardware and software that had worked perfectly before the SP was installed. Vista was a complete re-write apparently, different kernel, different interface (Although familiar with the start menu etc) even MS themselves admit publicly that it was a complete failure, so will Windows 7 be a slightly better OS like Windows 98SE was to Windows 98 or will it be a completely diabolical re-hash like Windows ME, or will it be like Windows XP SP2, a brilliant re-build of a terrible OS? Only time will tell, unfortunately I don’t think it’s going to save MS as much as they think it is and I’m not only thinking it’ll fail, I hope it will.

Adobe and Linux could be peas in a pod

If Adobe do release the CS on Linux then I think it will be great, not only for Adobe but for the general consumer. The whole thing is a viscous cycle, because Adobe products are not available on Linux, the OEM manufacturers know that designers and web designers will likely decide not to buy a Linux OEM box, likewise because the OEM boxes with Linux installed are not yet so plentiful, Adobe thinks there isn’t enough of a market share to spend the money developing a release for Linux. All it will take is for companies like Adobe, who do have a great deal of vendor-lock-in power out there, to start releasing products for Linux. Once Linux isn’t SO reliant on open source/free software and has corporate software available for it too, the OEM manufacturers will feel far more comfortable about shipping more machines, the customers will feel much happier about buying the OEM machines and the companies like Adobe continue to make money no matter what happens to those lovely people in Redmond.

Filed under: Product Reviews ... Comments (2)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


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.


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


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.

Filed under: Advice,Links,Product Reviews ... Comments (1)

Tags: , , , , , , ,


Author:  Hollow
October 9, 2008



I asked myself this very same question about 3 weeks ago …..

…..and decided to install it in a VM (Virtual Machine). I told a colleague I was planning to do it and he got somewhat reminiscent of his days using the “non free” version of it. He also said “We used to call it “Slow-Aris”, a comment I simply dismissed as him being humerus about the much older version of the operating system he had used.

Well although he WAS indeed being humerus, it seems he was also very right. During the installation of Open Solaris (Please remember this was in a virtual machine so it did not have full resources like a full PC would have) things started well, a pretty installer, nice and graphical but also informative and it felt, well, good. I hate using the word good to describe things but that’s about as much as I can say, it just felt good.

The installation moved on a bit and things started to slow down, then it got to the part where it was actually doing the installation after I had provided the information the system needed and let’s put it this way, I not only went for several coffees I went for several smokes and helped a few customers while it finished.

About an hour and a half later I found the installation had finished and so rebooted the VM to explore the OS and see for myself what it was like. Once again, all started well, the login screen was pretty, the login itself didn’t take too long and I was greeted with the default Gnome desktop. I was happy at this point, unfortunately this was not to continue. After some digging I discovered, although it is possible to install the KDE Desktop on Open Solaris is just wasn’t worth the hassle unless you were very seriously wanting to keep this as your main OS.

Granted I am a Linux evangelist and although I don’t particularly have an issue using, working on or installing other AIX based systems like Open Solaris, this particular adventure reminded me of why I don’t like them as much. It’s like when I get on a Mac, I love the way it looks, I like all the effort that’s gone into the GUI and I start thinking about how usable everyone says it is, then I start using it. I remember that half my bash commands won’t work, I can’t just install a package by typing a command and dragging it down from a repository, and that stupid Finda bar just confuses the crap out of me once I’ve got more than 2 or 3 applications open, not to mention the fact that I can never find anything I want to use (Like console or connecting to another machine etc) and the Mac user behind me watching me fix his machine has to show me all the keyboard shortcuts he/she uses to open things. With Open Solaris I had similar issues, I found the package manager to be a bit sketchy and left a lot to be desired, the graphical interface just looked like Linux because it was running Gnome and I realized, all they’ve done is customized it a little from the way it would look in say a default “from scratch” installation and then I noticed the speed, it was apalling.

As I said at the begging of this post, you must remember this was in a VM so it had limited resources. But, I gave it the exact same resources as my Kubuntu VM, my FreeBSD VM and even my Windows 2003 Server VM, they all run perfectly (Strangely enough I’ve never seen Windows boot as quickly as it does when installed as a VM on Linux, but that’s another post), yet Open Solaris lagged behind them all in terms of, time to boot, time to login, time to open programs once booted and time to shut down when you’ve had enough. I can only assume from this, that either it is ALWAYS this slow or it is just VERY resource hungry, more so than Windows 2003 Server, and that’s saying something!

If you’ve got a spare machine or a Virtual Environment to install it in and you fancy it, I recommend giving Open Solaris a whirl, you might find you enjoy it more than me, I know a lot of these Mac fans like OSX, BECAUSE it isn’t so customizable (Therefore not as breakable) and it just does everything for you. Open Solaris just isn’t for me though I’m afraid, sorry Sun.

Filed under: Other AIX Reviews,Product Reviews ... Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Author:  Hollow
October 5, 2008



…. Microsoft Exchange!!!!!!!!

Well after years of wishing someone could actually create a mail client that could get rid of outlook, yet still work with Microsoft software on the network, I’m, well, disappointed.

Why am I disappointed that a mail client finally stepped up to be a viable replacement for Outlook? Because it’s not cross platform (Only works in Linux and is specifically designed for Gnome, although it does work in KDE and no doubt other desktops on Linux), it ISN’T as good as Thunderbird in a lot of different ways and in general it isn’t the best mail client out there, in my opinion.

Evolution now also sports quite a nifty backup tool that it didn’t previously have, which is good, except all it does is backup your mail files to a tar file, which you could do yourself by going to the folder the data is stored in and, well, tarring it. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s great for less technical people out there who just want to backup their mail but it still doesn’t provide a method to move that mail to another mail client and a tar file isn’t exactly something really secure like a PST file.

Ok so I’m being a little hard on Evolution here I suppose, but it kinda deserves it. Where Thunderbird really does feel like a mail client that’s been thought out, well written and in general developed for ease of use and as a geniune alternative to outlook, without feeling too far away from it, Evolution just doesn’t.

There’s a lot to analyze here when it comes to comparing mail clients, Evolution comes with a calendar built in and Thunderbird has one that you have to install as a plugin, Evolution now supports exchange and Thunderbird doesn’t, Evolution has a backup utility in it’s file menu and Thunderbird just doesn’t have one. But these minimal facts print a rather unfair picture of Thunderbird in comparison. Thunderbird actually feels like outlook, it is more responsive and more customizable, now that the MAPI protocol is Open Source I’m hoping it won’t be long before Thunderbird becomes exchange capable.

Some of you may be asking “Why does he keep saying outlook so much”, well the thing is, as much as I hate anything not open source on principal I’m also a realist and the thing is Outlook IS the best mail client out there, by far. It may not be the most compliant with other technologies and it may not be free or Open Source but it’s the easiest to use, the most reliable and it has so many features you couldn’t list them all on an A4 piece of paper without doing it in columns and using both sides.

Since I found out that Evolution had released an update and now supported Exchange (Wednesday was when I found out) I have been testing Evolution alongside Thunderbird and I have to say, I’m going back to Thunderbird. If someone asked me if this breakthrough was going to change the way people work in a Windows environment I’d have to say, no, I don’t think it will. The reality is that it can’t be used on Windows and there are very few companies or organisations out there who have an exchange server and let their client PCs use Linux, it just isn’t done. Do I think if this breakthrough had happened on Thunderbird it would change the way people work? Then yes, I do. There are a lot of people out there on Windows who already use Thunderbird at home and Outlook at work.

So come on Mozilla Devs, get the MAPI protocol compliance implemented in Thunderbird for us, give those of us who need to use a Windows PC something other than outlook. I tend to use Open Office wherever I can anyway, whether I’m on Windows or Linux or Mac but I still have to use Outlook if I need to connect to an exchange server.

Filed under: Linux Reviews,Product Reviews,Reviews ... Comments (0)

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Enter your email address:

Delivered by FeedBurner