Publishing App Good Fit for Linux

By Jason Brooks  |  Posted 2003-07-28

Publishing App Good Fit for Linux

Scribus 1.0
Although early in its development, Scribus 1.0 provides Linux users with a solid desktop publishing option with good PDF export capabilities. Scribus is licensed under the GPL and available for free download, making it a very affordable choice for small-scale desktop publishing projects. More information is available at
  • PRO: Good PDF export capability; supports CMYK color separation; Python scripting plug-in.

  • CON: No HTML export; wont import native QuarkXPress or InDesign files; poor Acrobat Reader support for Linux complicates PDF previewing.

    Adobes PageMaker and InDesign Quarks QuarkXPress
    Although it lacks many of the features of leading desktop publishing applications such as Adobe Systems Inc.s PageMaker and InDesign and Quark Inc.s QuarkXPress and cannot import files created with those applications, Scribus is the most promising option for desktop publishing on Linux that eWEEK Labs has seen.

    Scribus 1.0, available now, is a desktop publishing application for Linux written by German developer Franz Schmid and distributed under the open-source GNU GPL (General Public License).

    In tests, we were impressed with Scribus capacity for handling CMYK—which stands for cyan, magenta, yellow and black—color separation and with its thorough support of Adobes PDF 1.4 file format for document export. With a freely available plug-in, Scribus also supports scripting in Python for automating tasks and otherwise extending the applications functions.

    Scribus is well-suited for projects such as short manuals, newsletters and presentations, and it provides an affordable option (the application is freely downloadable) for creating interactive PDF forms.

    Scribus is based on the cross-platform-friendly Qt application framework from Trolltech AS and runs on Linux, HP-UX, Solaris and BSD Unix. Scribus should work with any Unix-type window manager, but it works best with KDE (K Desktop Environment).

    For our test, we compiled Scribus from source code on Red Hat Inc.s Red Hat Linux 9. Precompiled packages for Scribus are available at apps. for Red Hat Linux 8.0; SuSE Inc.s SuSE Linux 8.0, 8.1 and 8.2; and MandrakeSoft S.A.s Mandrake Linux 9.0.

    Scribus may be run on Apple Computer Inc.s Mac OS X using Fink, the collection of open-source Unix tools ported to Mac OS X. Along similar lines, theres work in progress to enable Scribus to run on Windows 2000, using the Cygwin POSIX emulation layer for Windows, but this is not yet a stable option.

    Next page: Inside Scribus interface.

    On the Qt

    On the Qt

    We found Scribus Qt-based interface reasonably accessible, and users familiar with the KDE desktop will feel at home because KDE is also built on Qt. Those more accustomed to Windows should also be comfortable with Scribus, since key interface elements in Qt, such as file selection dialogs (which in Linux applications are sometimes rough) are similar to those in Windows.

    Scribus offers its own XML-based file format, but its most flexible output format is PDF. We could create 128-bit encrypted PDFs with controls on printing, copying and editing the documents (see screen). We could also embed fonts and ICC (International Color Consortium) profiles in our PDFs and could include PDF form fields and JavaScript controls in our documents.

    One bit of trickiness with PDFs and Scribus stems from the fact that the latest version of Adobes Acrobat PDF Reader available for Linux is 4.0; PDF features such as transparency require a newer Acrobat client.

    Check out Adobes latest PDF moves in eWEEKs review of the Acrobat 6.0 beta.

    To preview our PDFs on our Linux system, we installed Version 5.05 using Codeweavers Inc.s CrossOver Office—a handy utility based on the Wine Windows application compatibility layer for Linux.

    In addition to good support for PDF exporting, Scribus can save documents in SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) and EPS (Encapsulated PostScript) formats. However, Scribus does not support HTML export.

    Discuss this in the eWeek forum.

    Senior Analyst Jason Brooks is available at jason_brooks@

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