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
5. Email Client - $FREE (although susceptible to e-mail
6. Burning Software -$FREE (most burners come with free
7. Zip Tools -$FREE (many free versions also available)
8. Microsoft Office XP Standard $250.00 (cheapest I could
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
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.
Got something to add? Send me email.
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