How-To Geek

Scribus is an Art Desktop Publishing Tool for Linux

Looking for a reliable desktop publishing application for Linux? Scribus is an exceptional solution for creating PDF documents and brings professional desktop printing to Linux systems.

Scribus is an Open Source program that brings award-winning professional page layout to Linux/UNIX, Mac OS X, OS/2 Warp 4/e ComStation and Windows desktops with a combination of “press-ready” output and new approaches to page layout. Underneath the modern and user friendly interface, Scribus supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, Spot Colors, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation.


Here we take a look at installing Scribus on our Ubuntu system.

First, bring up the Synaptic Package Manager by going to System \ Administration \ Synaptic Package Manager.
Synaptic Package Manager
Scribus Synaptic

Search for the package called as scribus. Select the necessary packages that you want to install by Right-clicking them and hitting mark for installation. I selected the following packages.

  • scribus – Scribus 1.3.3.x (stable branch)
  • scribus-ng – Scribus 1.3.x (development branch) scribus-ng package can be installed paralelly to the scribus package
  • scribus-template – developer and user-contributed additional templates
  • scribus-doc – Scribus 1.3.3.x documentation
  • icc-profiles – a collection of common ICC profiles to use with Scribus and other color profile-aware software
  • lprof – hardware color profiler that can be used to create color profiles for your hardware to be used with Scribus
  • qt3-qtconfig – Ubuntu users are strongly advised to install this package for finetuning the Scribus GUI with their Gnome desktop

Click the Apply Button to start installing the application.

scribus 5

Depending on the speed of your Internet connection the package will be downloaded and installed.


Using Scribus

You can start Scribus by going to Applications \ Graphics \ Scribus.
Scribus Menu

The following is how the application looks. The interface is pretty intuitive to use.
Scribus Menu

Let’s quickly create a quick letter head and save the file as PDF.

1. Open a new Scribus document.

2. Click on Insert \ Shape to insert a rectangle as shown below. By default the color of the rectangle shape is black.


3. In order to change the color of the shape, right click on it and click properties to bring up the properties window.


4. Click color to change the color of the box. Following is how it looks:


5. Now let’s get the image for our letter head. Make sure you have your image ready. Click on Insert \ Image Frame to insert an Image frame. (Note: This does not inserts image, it only inserts the frame). It should look something like this:


6. In order to insert the image in the image frame right click the image frame you just created and click Get Image.

7. Locate and select the image to insert it.


8. Now let’s create the title of the letter head. To do so click, Insert \ Text Frame. Right click on the frame and click Edit Text to bring up the text editing box. Enter the title of your letter head.



9. Let’s save this letter head in PDF format. Click File \ Export \ Save as PDF. The PDF file looks like this:


That’s it! The letter head is ready for use. If you are looking for a quality desktop publishing tool for Linux Scribus is definitely worth a look.

Scribus Homepage

Vivek fills our weekly guest spot with tales of Linux and open source goodness. You can also find him writing on his personal blog,

  • Published 09/16/09

Comments (5)

  1. Grant Johsnon

    Works well on Windows too, just a little harder to install, you have to go to the website, download the installer and run it.

  2. Mohan

    Very cool tip, but it can also be installed via Add and Remove. Oh and BTW, what wallpaper are you using there?

  3. adam

    We use Scribus (under Windows) for most of our large run brochures (in an architectural office that does occasional workshops and seminars). It is absolutely fantastic and really easy to work with (particularly if one is familiar with the GIMP and Inkscape which are laid out in a fairly similar fashion).

  4. Trinae Ross

    First Step Press would like to move into using open source software. Looking at Ubuntu as our OS, can anyone comment how different Scribus is from Quark Express 8?

  5. Jim

    The biggest problem I had was that there isn’t much in the way of decent videos out there to get you going – and the interface is a little scary initially!

    I made a few video tutorials to go on our school Moodle for introducing Scribus to the High School students that I teach (and the teachers!). I can’t give you access to the Moodle so I have also put them up on YouTube. If you are new to Scribus they may prove to be a quick way to “get you going” and avoid some of the frustrations that I went through…

    They are at:…7?blend=8&ob=5

    I hope they are useful to somebody!

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