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Using Open Source applications for web design

Web Site: http://www.usalug.org

When I think of Open Source applications, my first thoughts always connect it to Linux. Since it is the most recognized Open Source operating system, for now we will concentrate on using Linux for web design.

A lot of people have the mistaken impression that Linux is just a server OS, and that it isn't much good for anything else. Nothing could be further from the truth. While it's true, sometimes Linux has a slightly steeper learning curve that other operating systems, the payoff is well worth the investment of some time. Literally in dollars and cents.

First let's discuss what an average web designer needs in his or her toolbox and see if Linux can offer comparable software.

Number one on the list is a good text/html editor. Closely followed by a great image manipulation program for great graphics. Then of course we need a FTP program to send the files to a web server. Those are the three most necessary items in the toolbox. Here are a few more.

Multiple browsers for viewing discrepancies in site design when viewed by different browsers. An e-mail client for sending receiving e-mail, and burning software for saving/archiving designs. Perhaps zip/unzip tools for compressing and uncompressing information. Of course the usual supply of office applications and perhaps an icq client for real time online chats with clients would be a plus. A webserver for testing or hosting websites would be extremely helpful also.

Now let's see what Linux has to offer in the way of these applications to start with. Since Linux has multiple offerings in many categories, we will choose just one for simplicities sake. A more complete list is available at : http://www.usalug.org/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=37

#1 Text/Html editor
BlueFish - http://bluefish.openoffice.nl/

#2 Image Manipulation tool
The Gimp - http://www.gimp.org/

#3 File Transfer Protocol program
GFTP - http://www.gftp.org/

#4 Web Browser
Mozilla - http://www.mozilla.org/

#5 E-mail Client
Kmail - http://kmail.kde.org/

#6 CDR Burning software
X-CD-ROAST - http://www.xcdroast.org/

#7 Zip Tool
GnoZip - http://freshmeat.net/projects/gnozip/?topic_id=58

#8 Office Applications
Open Office - http://www.openoffice.org/

#9 Icq Chat client
Licq - http://www.licq.org/

#10 Web Server
Apache - http://www.apache.org/

So Linux fills the basics for an average web designer. It has everything you need to make a nice website. One of the only real prerequisites when using Linux for web design would be that you know how to code by hand. There are not any really good WYSWYG editors for Linux. There isn't really a compatible program in the Linux world for Dreamweaver. There are some attempts at this currently in progress, all with varying degrees of success, and failure. Some might even be adequate for many designers.

Another "shortcoming" if you want to call it that, is that Linux doesn't have a Flash creating program. Although, I think many would agree, Flash isn't a requirement for web design, it's more of a frill that many surfers would prefer not to encounter anyway. Many times the lack of content of the site is a letdown after the long download time for the flash introduction. Most browsers don't have "built in" support for flash either, another headache you're creating for your site visitor. But enough of the flash rant.

Now here is the "dollars and cents" part I was talking about earlier. Here is the comparable products for use on a Windows machine and their retail prices.


1. NoteTab Pro - $20.00
2. PhotoShop 7 - $424.00 (cheapest I could find)
3. WsFTP Prp - $40.00
4. Web Browsers - $FREE (although IE is soon to be split from the Windows OS)
5. Email Client - $FREE (although susceptible to e-mail viruses)
6. Burning Software -$FREE (most burners come with free software)
7. Zip Tools -$FREE (many free versions also available)
8. Microsoft Office XP Standard $250.00 (cheapest I could find)
9. ICQ - $FREE
10. Microsoft OEM Windows Server $359.00

We won't even figure the base price of the operating system at all. We will just assume it was free with the computer you bought..........even though we all know it was a big part of the cost of it anyway. Add the items with a cost beside them and you come up to $1093. Linux cost $0 Upgrade costs to your "pay us forever" OS........depends on what you choose to upgrade. Cost for Linux upgrades $0

A side benefit to the Linux OS is it's reliability and stability. Machines can be left running months on end, and not be shut down. No blue screens of death that crash the entire system when one application fails.

Just to be fair, some of the Open Source software that is available for Linux, has been ported to other operating systems. For example a great resource for Windows users is http://gnuwin.org/index.html(Link dead,sorry) which has hundreds of programs all ported to Windows from Linux. Including Apache, The Gimp, Php, Blender, Pov Ray, Image Magick, Open Office, games, and more.

So if you are just starting out, or an experienced web designer, keep in mind Open Source software can save you money, and provide you with some of the best tools for your job.

References:
http://www.usalug.org
http://gnuwin.org/index.html
http://www.gnu.org/
http://www.fsf.org/gnu/gnu-linux-faq.html



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2 comments



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Tue Feb 22 08:59:39 2005: 58   anonymous


I also found out some applications which are open source and run on Windows. I have used a few of them and am very much impressed.
(link)



Wed Mar 9 04:56:33 2005: 119   anonymous


Found that there are quite a few of the open source applications which are a must in Windows here.
(link)

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