Design Apps for Linux

If you’re graphic designer or web designer interested in switching to Linux to save on costs or maybe get more hands on experience administrating a LAMP, here is what I recommend for your base setup. Please note, these are my suggestions for Design applications on Linux only, I’ll tackle the LAMP software in my next post.

My Linux Flavor Choice: Fedora running Gnome3

Why Fedora? I come from a dabbler of Red Hat, and Fedora is the free OS sponsored by RH, based on RH. Fedora includes RPM, and my favorite installer ever, YUM. Why do I prefer YUM over Debian based APT-GET? Because it’s 4 characters shorter to type and I find I have a lot more Repositories to access.

Why Gnome3? When you hear Linux, you probably think command line interface. That’s true. However, over the last couple decades many GUI’s have been released and have recently gotten to the point where they do everything you expect the GUI to do, just like in Windows or OS X. While you could be using KDE, XFCE or Gnome3, I recommend Gnome3 for those who are coming from an OS X environment as you’ll find it very intuitive. If you prefer a Windows interface, than KDE would probably be the choice for you. It’s worth mentioning that Gnome3 is very new, Gnome2 has an interface similar to Windows, though flipped around so that my primary task bar is at the top, similar to OS X apple icon and system preferences pull downs.

My Design App Choices: Scribus, Inkscape, Gimp, Dia, Bluefish, ImageMagick

To over simplify things: Scribus works like Indesign, Inkscape works like Illustrator and Gimp works like Photoshop. Dia you may not need, it’s a neat little drawing application that you can use to make flow charts, so those who have to wear a project manager hat will probably find more use for it than your average designer. Bluefish works like the code view of Dreamweaver, while it doesn’t have a WYSYWIG interface, it does highlight and organize code just like Dreamweaver. If you need a WYSYWIG, the choices are very limited, with Sea Monkey being the only thing still in current development, which is a web browser slash html editor. ImageMagick will more than likely already be installed, but if not, you can install it using “yum install ImageMagick” note: this installer is case sensitive. ImageMagick is used by some UI Designers, as well as other types of Designers to do batch scripting with images without having to use a program like Photoshop to do it for you.

These can all be installed quickly by opening a terminal and typing:

  1. su root (hit enter and put in root’s password)
  2. 2. yum install scribus inkscape gimp dia bluefish (it will “do stuff” then tell it “y” for yes)
  3. Keep your terminal window open, you’ll need it for the rest below

My Office Choice:  Open Office

This product has always been trying to rival MS Office for years and always seems to have the latest features from the previous version of Office included in it. It’s probably the closest mimic of a closed app I’ve ever seen.

  • The install for this is: yum groupinstall office

My Utility Choices: Pidgin, Filezilla, Wine, GParted , Preupgrade, Yum-FastestMirror, Yum-Utils, Yumex (note: the installers for these are all lowercase)

Filezilla is my choice for FTP/SFTP. Wine will allow you to run some Windows based programs while within Linux, so if you can’t really get away from Dreamweaver… GParted is the best partitioning tool since Partition Magic. But what are these other things?

  • Preupgrade – this package will allow you to upgrade from one version of Fedora to the next version of Fedora every time there is a new stable release (about once every 12 to 18 months)
  • Yum-FastestMirror – when using YUM to install applications, this package will allow YUM to search for the repository closest to your location to potentially save on download time
  • Yum-Utils – a bunch of little YUM tools, kind of neat, but by no means essential
  • Yumex – If you don’t want to use a command line to install applications on your system, here is the GUI to replace the command line. You can search for, install, uninstall and update all from a nice little interface

With this setup you should be well on your way making the switch from OS X or Windows to Linux, though after so many installs on a fresh system, it wouldn’t hurt to clean things up a bit. I’d recommend running the following, after getting everything installed and setup the way you like:

  • yum update – updates all of Fedora and everything you have installed on the system
  • yum clean all – cleans up any temp files left behind by installing the various packages above

With that said, if any of you are Designers, web, graphic or UI, please feel free to comment below and offer suggestions on what applications you find the most favorable. Also, I’d love to see if anyone has tried getting Xcode to run under Linux or what solutions are available for that.

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