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Web Design on Linux

Web design on Linux is possible although Microsoft and Apple computers are no doubt the web designer’s choice when it comes to creating websites. Adobe software has become the niche and the creative professionals favourite for many years. Linux on the other hand has improved considerably over the past few years and now it is possible to create beautiful websites with the plethora of tools available. Here are a few of those tools to get your creative juices flowing.

Graphics and Web Design

I am sure by now you have probably heard of GIMP and Inkscape. Gimp is similar to Adobe Photoshop is excellent for touching up photos and creating pixel based designs. MyPaint is a paint program which is designed for pressure sensitive graphics tablets. Inkscape on the other hand is similar to Adobe Illustrator and is extremely useful for drawing and creating scalable graphics such as logos and icons. Xara Xtreme is also another popular tool for vector drawings. Shutter is a screenshot tool that is useful for capturing and editing screenshots for your blog or website. For resizing images with speed you could use Shrink O’Matic which is a drag and drop Adobe Air application. Trimage is a small utility to compress images and Gloobus-Preview is an excellent tool for displaying images quickly without the need to open them in GIMP or Inkscape.


Dreamweaver has dominated the web design market for many years for creating WYSIWYG websites. On the other hand coding your own website is always encouraged to be able to learn web design properly. Aptana Studio is a very powerful piece of software as is Eclipse, Komode Edit and Netbeans. Hardcore enthusiasts use Emacs and Vim. If you want a lightweight editor then Gedit, Bluefish and Geany are extremely popular.


If you are designing logos then you may have lots of fonts installed in your system. Fonty Python is a font manager and organiser where you can browse and install fonts. Fonty Python Fonty python lets you create groups of fonts, known as pogs, which you can install/uninstall with one click. Another great feature also is having the ability to compress your pog or pogs into a zip file for easy transportation if you change to a different Linux distribution and require a quick install.

Testing Websites

The majority of browsers now are extensible and have tools for checking your websites for errors and tweaking code etc. Firebug and Web Developer Toolbar both come at the top of the list. Xampp for Linux is a web server and is excellent for testing your PHP/MYSQL powered websites.

File Transfer

Filezilla is great for accessing your server to upload or download your files. Cross FTP is also a useful Firefox extension that’s worth checking out.

Other Useful Tools

One of the most used pieces of software on my Linux desktop is actually a very simple piece of software. Clipit is a an excellent clipboard manager. If you copy and paste a lot this is the tool for you. I highly recommend a clipboard manager regardless of whether you do web deign or not. Meld is a extremely useful 2/3 way file and directory comparison tool. Meld File Comparison Getting Things Gnome is a excellent piece of software to organise your tasks which also synchronises with Remember The Milk and also makes use of the Hamster Time tracking applet. VirtualBox is great for testing your websites in alternative Operating systems without having to restart in your computer. Web Developer Tools (WDT) is like a swiss army knife of web tools including image processors, editors, decoders, compressors and server side tools.


Do you develop or design using Linux? Have I missed anything that you think warrants a mention? I am quite surprised that with all the Linux distributions out there no one has developed a web/graphic design based distribution. Who knows maybe in next few years we might be seeing one!

10 replies on “Web Design on Linux”

matchstickchild On

Thank you! I have just made the switch to Linux ( Ubuntu and Ubuntu Studio) and have been looking for this for weeks. As a bit of a hobbyist trying to build a portfolio this has saved me alot of hastle and money!

jasper7076 On

I am using Linux Ubuntu/Mint/USU for Graphic and Web Design and mentioned opensource programs Like Gimp, Inkscape, Xara Xtreme, My Paint, Blender, BlueFish Editor and Kompozer. I desided because I am free to take my decision. It is a very good and fascinating article.

David Hughes
David Hughes On

It really amazes me – although perhaps it shouldn’t – how few web designers and developers use Linux; to read certain magazines, you’d think that the only natural choice of platform to develop on was the Mac.

Admittedly you can’t get Photoshop on Linux (you may be able to run it under Wine – I haven’t tried) – but I’ve never found this to be a problem as I’ve never used it. I don’t spend too much time working with images anyway, and I don’t understand the strange fad about designing your website in Photoshop and then working out how to implement it in CSS – sounds like a recipe for doubling your workload to me.

Reasons in favour of Linux: it’s highly likely that when you come to deploy one of your websites, you’ll be doing so on a server running Linux; as long as you’re not using an obscure Linux, you can be reasonably confident of finding a web server running the same OS that you did your development on, meaning that you’re less likely to have to adapt your project to compensate for changes in OS behaviour.

It’s free! It doesn’t hog system resources. For those of us who aren’t [yet] so successful that we’re swimming in money, this is a very important consideration. I can run the latest version of most Linux distros on a computer that’s between 5-10 years old and still experience great performance.

Reginald Gallager
Reginald Gallager On

Wonderful website! Plenty of helpful information here. I was looking for this.Thanks for sharing!

Christian On

I’m web designer on linux. I use inkscape and gimp for all my work. Other tools like git make me happy and i know that i’ll never use windows again.

greetings from Perú

Nattefrost On

Hello there, I enjoyed reading this post. I love web designing, and I cannot even imagine working in anything else than a Linux (Debian, my distro of choice) environment.

I am familiar with most of the tools you have mentioned here; but I have to confess that I have never used any WYSIWYG editor. Have you tried Kate or KWrite? They are lightweight, easy-to-use (and, easy-to-customize), I especially love their syntax-highlighting option! :}

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