Essential Applications for the Linux Based Web Designer


If you are planning to start to use a Linux environment to do all of your web designing and programming that you will want to arm yourself with all the right tools so that you don’t feel lost and jump back into the familiarity of a windows environment with all your Adobe products.
This is a collection of software applications that you can trust and rely on to deliver the best result for your websites and web applications.


HTML EDITORS / Coding Applications


Aptana is my favourite coding program. Although it is a little on the bulky side, the fact that it has a lot of code libraries and indexes your project makes life a breeze once your project is set up. It can be a little slow when refreshing a large project, but when it tells you there is an error in your code that you missed you will be more that happy.
The interface is very similar to Dreamweaver, but without a lot of the useless crap that you would probably not use. There is no design view in Aptana, but if your like me, you never used it anyway.


Bluefish is another great editor. It has a host of language support and is a very light program. It wont struggle with multiple files open and with awesome feature like highlighting matching block start / end markers and auto-complete tags, it makes a programmers life easy to navigate their code.
Bluefish has the same type of layout as Aptana and is so easy to navigate you files as it doesn't have many feature that are in your face, but that's not to say it does not have great features.
Even though I don't use bluefish as my main editor its been great for when I have to work on multiple websites at the same time. Aptana does not like jumping between workspaces I have found.


Screem is a great editor too. I have used it in the pats before changing over to Aptana. What I love about Screem is it’s help/support that is built in. Much like Dreamweaver it auto suggests your tags and attributes. While the other programs in this list also do the same thing, Screem actually does a better job at it. If however you don’t rely on the program itself to help you out with your code, then perhaps have a look at bluefish or Aptana.
A nice feature of Screem is that it allows your to “open a remove file”. While this is just the rendered HTML of the website, it does save some time of cut and pasting if you are looking to interrogate a live websites rendered html. But again, this is something that Chrome or FireFox can do with their “Inspect Element” and “DOM Inspector” plug-ins.




Gimp is the time proven alternative to Photoshop. It can open PSD files and use Photoshop brushes and actions. There are a whole load of scripts and plug-ins for Gimp that give it a powerful set of styles and actions. Gimp is my preferred choice when it comes to graphics for the web in Linux. You might find it hard to use at first, but hang in there. I have a few tutorials in using Gimp and before you know it you will wonder why you thought it was so hard.

Xara Xtreme

If it is Illustrator you are missing and you feel like making some nice vector logos or icons, then Xara Xtreme is for you. This is a great program that is very powerful and so fast that you will never want to go back to using Illustrator or Photoshop again.It is feature packed and is a very solid program, just look at some of the examples.


InkScape is another vector drawing program that is hot on the heels of Xara Xtreme. InkScape is easy to use, fast and capable of delivering high quality design work. If linux was ever missing vector based programs than InkScape and XaraXtreme have you covered for anything you need to create. Just look at the InkScape examples, they speak for themselves!



SciTE Text Editor

SciTE Text Editor is the only text editor that I use. It’s simple, understands programming languages, highlights code and has a good search. Back when I was on Windows I would use Notepad++ and I have be lead to believe that SciTE Text Editor is the father of Notepad++.As far as I am concerned they are the same thing.




There is nothing worse that needing to find *anything* in hundreds of documents/thousands of lines of code in a project. Thankfully we have this great GUI find/replace tool that features Perl style regular expressions! The interface is simple and that's exactly how it should be. With the ability to search project-wide this tool will greatly help you speed up bulk changes.


I’m sure most of you already know about and use FileZilla, but for those who don’t, FileZilla is a no fuss easy to use FTP program that has a decent interface and allows multiple sessions at one time. FileZilla is fast, it’s easy and its a very light weight program. Anyone who has used FireFTP plug-in for FireFox will come to love FileZilla.


Another favourite is VirtualBox. There comes a time where you need to test something in windows for example. If you no longer have bootable windows installed on your system you can get yourself a windows/IE image from Microsoft and fire it up in VirtualBox for testing reasons.
The best thing about VirtualBox is that it supports VHD files direct from the Microsoft Developer Resources! While it is a little quirky and not without bugs, it does enable you to do some basic testing in IE browsers. Get the VHD images here.


Sometimes you really need to see a website in the browser to be able to check all the potential bugs. Even though our code validates and everything looks great on paper so to speak, browsers are freaks and like to mess with everything. So use FireBug to help you tweak changes and finalise a great website or app. It won’t help you with IE though.


This is something I don’t do enough. If you take your work with you to different locations then synchronisation is a must. You don't want to upload over work you have forgot to sync with and undo a days worth of work.
This is also a fantastic backup utility. I cant stress enough how important it is to keep backups of your system. We might not get BSOD’s but when your HDD starts to tick and you cant account for gigs of space, you will wish you had used this program!



While there are many other programs out there, these are the main tools that I use to get by in my day to day world of web design and programming. None have failed me yet and I have been able to deliver high end websites from both small clients to large companies.If you are wanting to get into using Linux for you OS and you are a web designer then these programs and tolls will keep you grounded while you settle into the new environment.

3 thoughts on “Essential Applications for the Linux Based Web Designer

    1. Mark Biegel

      Thanks William. I'm sorry I haven't been posting more (the wife is pregnant). But in the new year I will be back on board and writing more design & programming articles.


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