Open Source DTP with Scribus

May 3, 2011, By Christian Cawley

If you have been following our series of articles about the ease and benefits of switching from Windows to an open source platform such as Ubuntu – and thereby be able to spend more on hardware rather than worry about the cost of your operating system – you might be rubbing your chin thinking “OK. It’s good, but can I actually perform specialist tasks with an open source operating system?”

In truth, that is a question that only you will be able to find out, through use of Linux Ubuntu and persistent research. You might initially find that the task you wish to perform with your open source software isn’t yet possible, but with a bit of persistence and by searching in the right place you should find that in most cases you’re not the only person who has been looking for a way to achieve that particular task, and that a project is underway to give you and others an open source solution.

Open source DTP with Scribus

However there are plenty of image manipulation, video editing, audio tools and even customer relationship management applications available for Ubuntu, just as there is an open source desktop publishing (DTP) tool, Scribus.

What Is DTP?

Desktop publishing is basically the art of creating a publication such as a magazine or flyer from the comfort of a desktop computer. The term originated back when the digital computing age started to distinguish between traditional “cut-out and paste” publishing.

Nowadays, every magazine and leaflet is created with a DTP solution, such as a professional tool such as Serif PagePlus, QuarkXPress or some of the advanced features of Microsoft Word.

However both of those packages are expensive, and neither is available for Linux. As such the open source option of Scribus is good to have, and has been used to create many free and commercial publications over the last few years (see for a full list). DTP software can also be used to make eBooks.

What this means is that as long as you have a good design and layout planned, you can use Scribus to deliver a good quality, polished and professional-looking publication for free, investing nothing more than man-hours.

Brave and Bold Open Source DTP

If you already have experience with DTP software, the chances are that the process of creating pages and adding backgrounds, text and image elements is all second nature to you. Many people that come to Scribus for the first time do so in order to use a DTP application that is free and capable of producing professional results.

As such, Scribus comes with various templates included, and these can be used as a starting point for your intended publication, whether you’re planning a magazine or leaflet.

To get your copy of Scribus, you will need to visit the download site for Scribus at (particularly useful if you’re a Windows or Mac user) or use the Ubuntu Software Center.

Other Linux distro users will find Scribus in the package manager.

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