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Old 09-24-2009, 05:54 PM   #1
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Anyone use Linux for DTP?

Does anyone use Linux for DTP? I've been using PageMaker 6 under Windows XP, and have been contemplating switching over to Linux for a bit over a year now. My transition will likely be slow as I have been publishing my current little quarterly magazine for over 10 years now, all using PageMaker 6. The Adobe replacements for PM 6 plain suck -- they are not as easy to use or intuitive. I tried PM6.5 -- it was just a bridge to get users over to InDesign, which just doesn't compare to PM6 IMHO. If I've got to learn how to do something from scratch it will be in Linux!

There are distributions that are easy enough for a user now that learning to use Linux won't be a problem, and I still remember a little from my DOS and OS-9 (no Mac, 6809 and 68000 OS-9!) days -- I CAN work a command line, just don't really WANT to or enjoy it! I've settled on Linux Mint as a distribution. I'd first thought to use MEPIS, but I like the look and feel of Mint (and ease of use) so much better than any of the others!

I'd like to see/hear some opinions on all the true page layout/DTP packages below, and if there are any more. I don't want to hear about DTP with the various Office packages. They are capable of limited DTP, but aren't in the same league as true page layout programs like PageMaker and QuarkXpress. I already know about GIMP for graphics editing, and I like it!

I've found several software packages that look good to go:
1. Scribus -- the biggest problem I have with it is that there is supposedly a new format coming... "soon". I'm not going to do a lot of work that can't be read by the same program -- I already have that issue! It's not that well supported either. I've been on some of the forums. Too many issues are related to features that are not yet implemented or not fully implemented, and development is slow... though that's understandable. I doubt there are any features that I would really need not in it, but I don't care for the attitudes at times. I know it's a free program that's only worked on by a few (I don't have the skills or knowledge to do anything more than critique!). That's NOT a plus.
Scribus can be installed through most Linux distribution package managers, it's open source. I don't care about it being OS, but being able to install through the package manager is a plus.

2. PageStream -- This appears to be a mature program, harkening back to Amiga and Atari ST days. Support seems to be good, and price is reasonable at $100-$150. Anyone use it? Not open source, but since I'm not a programmer, that's not a consideration for me. It is supported by the developer.

3. Axene Xclamation -- This seems to be similar to PageStream and other true DTP software packages. It's in release 2.0.1, so it should be robust enough. Doesn't seem to be any cost involved, but that is really a minor consideration. I don't mind supporting a small company like PageStream that supports their product and charges a reasonable price. Anybody ever actually used Xclamation over here? It's a French product... I don't think it's open source.

I've pretty much talked myself out of Scribus for now... but I have downloaded it and intend to play with it a bit. I'll d/l the others below too. I'm afraid the one that works most like PM6 (most familiar and lowest learning curve!) is what I'll use. Any thoughts?
Old 09-25-2009, 08:30 AM   #2
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I've used Scribus for a few amateur layouts; it seemed easy enough to use. My reservations were around the dated user interface, and once or twice it exited (crashed?) without warning (losing current edits). But it is worth trying out, and is likely to be around for a while. Certainly better than using a word processor for most jobs.

The various TeX incarnations are quite good (I tend to use XeTeX), but their process (text oriented input with formatting markup) would probably not be the sort of thing you are looking for.

I haven't tried Pagestream or Axene Xclamation. Don't judge software by release numbers though, it doesn't tell you much about quality. For example, the vector graphics editor InkScape is not even version 1.0, but it seems stable, and has a slick user interface.

Last edited by neonsignal; 09-25-2009 at 08:32 AM.
Old 09-25-2009, 01:06 PM   #3
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Yes, I've heard only good things about InkScape as well. I recall LaTex back in the dark ages on some UNIX machines and OS-9. I shudder at the thought of using something like that!! WYSIWYG is a definite must! I'd use some of the Office software first, though that's really not suitable. I certainly understand your warning about version numbers, but a higher number should indicate a higher level of development. Of course the Xclamation team may have started with 1.0 instead of 0.1....

Hopefully I'll find someone who's used something other than Scribus. At the moment PageStream, which is known stable, seems to be the safest route.
Old 09-25-2009, 08:23 PM   #4
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I thought you were just interested in DTP, not in the accompanying software. Yes, Inkscape is definitely worth trying and make yourself familiar. If you have to convert CDR to SVG, export CDR to CMX, use Sketch to convert CMX to SVG.

I haven't encountered anything which I was able to do in CorelDraw, and could not perform in Inkscape. I admit CorelDraw 7 was my last version in Windows, but how much more sophisticated can a vector drawing become?

Altough you need WYSIWYG (really useful for graphic programs!), if you need to do certain things, you can edit the SVG code directly.

AFAIK there is no par for Inkscape in Linux, but I have not checked the commercial packages. It was a fork of the Sodipodi project once, no idea whether Sodipodi survived.

Old 09-26-2009, 01:52 PM   #5
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I am mainly interested in DTP packages, as there isn't much info out there, except on Scribus. I looked at that extensively a year ago, even joined a forum and lurked around. Didn't like the general attitude of the group I was lurking in (and made a few posts). But the real clincher was that a new save format was coming... soon... eventually. By the time I get around to actually converting it might be in, and I'll have to take another look at it. But I don't mind paying reasonable prices for good, supported software. $150 for a DTP package is reasonable, $600+ for something that's a bit difficult to use like InDesign is not or any of the Adobe packages is not reasonable to me! I'd just like to know a little about that software first... Looks like I might just have to spend some time on all three and write the reviews that I can't find!!

I use Corel now, but mainly PhotoPaint to edit photos. GIMP is spot on for me! I'll look at Inkscape if I need to do anything GIMP can't handle.


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