As a web designer, if you’re using Windows to create your projects you’re either spending a good chunk of change on software, pirating the software, or creating inferior websites with a free tool. Open-source software has come far enough to work effeciently, effectively and freely for your web design needs. Is there a learning curve? I guess that depends on how brainwashed you are.
Can you be comfortable working from a Linux environment?
Will I be able to replace/use my design software and tools?
To answer the first question. Yes. I am actually much more comfortable with the Linux desktop environment options. I feel like between the 20 most popular distros, anyone can find one to suit their needs. If you’re just getting started you’re probably well off with the plain-Jane version of Ubuntu. Currently, you will be able to find a lot more help if you stumble onto an obstacle, if you’re using Ubuntu. For those that are more adventurous I recommend trying these alternatives that cater a little more to people in the multimedia industry.
ArtistX – This is an Ubuntu-based live DVD that contains free multimedia software packages used for audio, 2D and 3D graphics, and video production.
Musix – Also a live DVD, the Musix distribution is based on Knoppix Linux. Musix contains music production, graphic design, audio and video editing free software applications.
To answer the second question. Yes. Applications like GIMP and Inkscape often come pre-installed on Linux distros with thousands more only a few clicks away.
When I made the switch to Linux I used GIMP and it completely replaced Photoshop for what I used it for. I didn’t find as perfect of a replacement for Dreamweaver but instead I found Wine, an unbelievable tool to run Windows apps like Dreamweaver on Linux! Also useful is Cross-over office which does something similar. For advanced designers that want to skip the WSYWIG, check out Eclipse with an html plugin and deploy with sftp, rsync or better yet subversion.
Here’s a more complete list of Linux applications you can use to replace Windows. Linux apps BOLD
Internet Explorer – Firefox, Opera, Epiphany, Konqueror, Lynx
Nero Burning – K3b, XCDRoast, Serpentine, Gnomebaker
Outlook Email – Kontact, Thunderbird, Evolution, Claws Mail
ICQ, MSN or AIM Messengers – Pidgin, Kopete, aMSN, KICQ, Gabber
FTP – FileZilla, Konqueror
3D Studio Max – Blender, Maya, Softimage, K-3D
Windows Media Player – MPlayer, Xine, Totem, VLC
iTunes – Amarok, XMMS, Audcaious Rhythmbox
GoldWave – Audacity, GNU Sound
Quark, Microsoft Publisher – Scribus, OpenOffice Draw
Dreamweaver, Microsoft Fontpage – OOWeb, NVU, KompoZer
Photoshop – GIMP, GIMPshop
Illustrator – Inkscape
Microsoft Office – OpenOffice, KOffice
This is only a small amount of the Linux applications available for you to use all for free. Switching from Windows to Linux definitely comes with ups and downs but web designers that take the time to learn free software now will undoubtedly be ahead of the curve as open-source software matures. Please post comments about your experience using these or other Windows replacement applications for the Linux desktop.