Linux and Web Development Part 2

Posted: September 11, 2006 Comments

It has been over two months since my initial writeup of using Linux for Web Development. I had no idea that article would be received as it was, but I couldn’t be happier about it. Some people had concerns about my phrasing of ‘Web development’ and were disappointed that I wasn’t speaking about programming for the Web. I apologize for any confusion I caused with the vocabulary I chose to use, but to me it seems to be the most descriptive given the situation.

Linux Logo

I’d like to provide an update to what I’ve learned about using Linux in my day-to-day personal and professional work. After much testing and many changes, I think that I may be able to offer some prospective users some direction in their switch to Linux.


This article will concentrate mostly on software solutions, mostly unique to Linux. I’ve had many experiences generating from suggestions provided in the comments of my first article, and after two months of usage, I have some conclusions to write about.

Revisiting Editors

There are many reasons a developer chooses one editor over another. Whether it’s a particular feature they can’t do without, application speed, or overall usage experience, it’s rare to find a developer who hasn’t gone back and forth between multiple editors before settling on their favorite.

As it last stood, I was head over heels for Bluefish, but after a few weeks using it at work, I began noticing a couple of the shortcomings that had been mentioned. Once any particular file reached a couple hundred lines in length, highlighting would take noticeably longer which began to wear my nerves. I also found myself missing certain features I had become used to in the past. Such things as code folding and current line highlighting. While those features are quite small, I’m used to them and prefer their presence. A hunt for a possible replacement resulted. Working from the huge list of recommendations provided in the Intro, I began using a different editor every week, trying to see which gave me the best experience. While some may say a week is not nearly enough time to determine whether or not an editor is for you, I thought it was sufficient.

What I found is that there is an editor out there for everyone under the Linux platform. From vim to jEdit to Aptana, there is something to suit your needs, whatever they might be. I can’t provide a general recommendation for anybody simply because everyones preferences are different. Out of all the editors I tried (and I tried just about every one I could find), I think I’ve settled on one.

Quanta Plus

Quanta Plus is an editor based partly on Kate, therefore inheriting Kate’s speed and versatility. Quanta Plus, unlike Bluefish, has code folding and current line highlighting, the small features I had come to miss. It will highlight a document significantly faster than Bluefish once line counts exceed a couple hundred. Something I hadn’t run across before was a feature that Quanta Plus refers to as Document Structure. Essentially it’s an outline for any document you’re working on based on the structure of whichever language you’re using (XHTML, CSS, etc.). I think as I get used to a feature like that, I’ll use it more and it will help with productivity. There’s also a plugin included by default which I can compare to Dreamweaver in that an inline dropdown menu appears with contextual information based on any tag you’re editing. What makes this instance different, however, is that the dropdown appears not only with predefined items such as classes or ids you’ve used in your document, it also offers color code and word completion which can come in handy sometimes. It also includes the expected property value options. On top of that, Quanta Plus has integrated CVS support which I look forward to using once our CVS repository is setup.

Quanta Plus Logo

So far I haven’t found any major shortcomings to Quanta Plus. I’ve only been using it a short time but I’m very pleased with the feature set and reliability it provides. As a Gnome user, the KDE interface of Quanta Plus takes some getting used to, but overall that’s quite minor.

Web Browsers

Cross browser testing was discussed in good detail in the previous article, but even more so in the comments. Some information was provided that I had neglected to include in my writeup.

Konqueror in Comparison to Safari (Webkit)

As indicated, Konqueror is based on KHTML, which was the base Apple used for Safari. This can be a great benefit and save everyone from having to track down a way to test on Safari. Since switching to Linux, I’ve tested any site I worked on in both Konqueror and Safari to see if I could find any discrepancies. For the most part, Konqueror absolutely rendered a site exactly as Safari did, including any tiny quirks. One major change that I’ve found so far is the difference between the two in their rendering of various forms. For one reason or another there would be a missing input in one browser or another, usually due to space restrictions or otherwise. Unfortunately I think that as a developer, even using Linux and Konqueror, you should still test for Safari on a Mac. It is a good way to get a quick look as to what any problems might be, however.

Konqueror Logo

Internet Explorer 7

With an official release of Internet Explorer 7 just around the corner, it’s important to test in that browser as well. Unfortunately IEs4Linux hasn’t included IE7 into the package yet, but hopefully that will happen soon enough.

Internet Explorer 7 Logo


As stated below in the comments (thanks Roy!), the IEs4Linux developer has actully succeeded in running IE7 under Wine. Quoting the developer, it’s usage can be considered “pre-pre-alpha” so your results may not be too stable, but this is really good news for Linux Web designers/developers.

Still in Need of that One Application?

If it turns out there’s still that one application stopping you from making the switch to Linux, there’s still hope. You can solve that problem through the use of virtual machines. Using a virtual machine you can install an operating system within Linux. This lets you run that particular application without the hassle of rebooting all the time.


VMware is a completely free virtualization solution that I would definitely recommend if virtualization is something you need. After installing VMware, you can setup as many virtual machines as you need in order to install what you use, especially the one app holding you back from completely switching. Using VMware you can continue to use Photoshop, work in Flash, or test natively in IE7.

VMware Logo

Image Editing

Solid image editing is definitely a requirement for me, I think it’s important to have legitimate tools to work with. The two tools I use primarily for image editing are Pixel and the GNU Image Manipulation Program.

Update on the GIMP

From what I can see, the GIMP basically has a cult following. Many people find the interface intimidating and just can’t work with it. Others just don’t like it because they feel the name is inappropriate. And then there is a whole slew of people who have no problem working in the GIMP and actually enjoy it. Regardless of how it’s received, I have a few tips to make it more useful.

First and foremost, layer boundaries should be hidden. I don’t quite get why they’re displayed by default but at least you can turn them off — their presence quickly clutters things and makes any file really confusing to work with. Alan White has written up a small list of some really great tips on starting out with the GIMP. One that I can whole heartedly support is making one big ‘toolbar’ out of the two windows put on display by default. To do this you can drag the various panels from place to place by clicking and dragging their title section as shown below:

GIMP screenshot

Once you grab the panel you can drag it from one window to another and it will attach itself. You can either add it as a new panel to any particular window or an additional tab of a current panel. To add something as a new panel of a current window you will need to drop the panel on a horizontal bar within the target window. The horizontal bar will only turn a new color when you’re hovering the right spot so you will have to move the mouse around a bit until you’ve got it right. If you’d like to add a tab to an already existing panel, you simply drag into the target panel and you’ll see a black outline appear where the tab will be added. If you’d like to change the order of tabs you can simply drag to reorder. This is one feature of the GIMP that I had overlooked in the past but proven to be extremely valuable in making the interface more natural to use.

Update on Pixel

Although I’m using GIMP more and more, I couldn’t live without Pixel. I love its implementation of live effects and the more familiar interface. On the other side I’ve found it partially difficult to work with blocks of text, as the word wrapping is something to get used to. I’ve also run into a few issues with brushes in Pixel, but nothing huge to complain about. My last issue is the fact that there’s not pressure support under Linux, but the developer is awesome and has indicated that it’s coming.

Latest news on Flash

I had recently come across an article detailing a method of copying an installation of Flash piece by piece into an installation of Wine on a Linux machine and having it work. While it may in fact work for some people, it comes with some licensing issues and seemed a bit hackneyed for my taste. On the Flash plugin front, PENGUIN.SWF (Flash Plugin for Linux official blog), Flash 9 for Linux looks like it will be arriving quicker than once thought, which is great.

FTP Update

As I had said earlier, FTP clients for one reason or another, are less than pleasant to work with (for the most part). Reading through the comments I was guided in many different directions. Again, each solution had pros and cons and I began sifting. gFTP wasn’t doing anything for me and was more trouble than it was worth, so after trying many of the other suggested applications, I’ve pretty much settled on FireFTP, an FTP client plugin for Firefox. As I began getting used to the plugin, I became more pleased with the idea behind it. Personally, I spend most of my time uploading pieces of a client website that I’m working on. The fact that I can open up an FTP client in a tab of my browser makes perfect sense. It’s one less app to have open and puts things within easy reach. So far FireFTP has been great and stable for me and I think I’ll stick with it.

Lucky for me, we’re probably going to be setting up a CVS repository on a new in house development server, so the only time I should be using FTP is upon a site launch, which will be completely great. I’ll be able to edit sites in development within a working environment which will allow me and my co-workers to work at a much faster pace in the long run.

When Things Go Terribly Wrong

Along with all the positive experiences with switching to Linux, I’ve also had the benefit of experiencing one of the worst circumstances you could run into at any time. I recently sat down to a frozen desktop, unable to force quit anything and it was impossible to get any sort of response. At first I disregarded it as a fluke and hard reset the machine. To my surprise, the machine wouldn’t boot. It was acting strange during POST and I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. After hard resetting a couple more times I was able to see the familiar Ubuntu boot process and took a second for a sigh of relief. Before I could exhale I was looking at an error message I had never seen before, telling me the filesystem was unreadable and I need to run a disk check. Luckily there were instructions on how to do just that included in the error message, or else I would have been completely lost.

My First fsck Experience

The instructions told me to reboot and force fsck, which I did. Upon doing so I was faced with countless errors including disk parity errors, I/O errors, filesystem flag errors, and many other error types I had never heard of before. I was forced to come to the conclusion that the hard drive had failed. Panicked that I had also lost the second drive (where I keep all my backups) I tried to figure out what I could do. This was my first experience with a mission critical drive failure.

Linux Basically Saved the Day

I still had my Ubuntu Dapper install DVD lying around so I decided to check out what trouble I could get into from booting the DVD. It can’t get much worse, right? After booting, I was able to create a couple mount points and mount both hard drives to see what damage had been done. To my surprise I could still browse both hard drives. My backup drive seemed to be operating normally, while I was still able to check out my home folder. For those who aren’t familiar, Linux creates a home folder for each user which contains all the configuration files related to any personal or application settings that user might have. Until now I didn’t think much of it, but in this case it was completely wonderful. Essentially I was able to copy my home folder from the damaged drive onto my backup dive, replace the damaged drive, and copy most of that home folder back into a fresh reinstall — and basically carry on from where I had left off.

Most of the applications I use are included with many default Linux installations. After a few minutes, the remaining apps are installed and I’m almost to where I left off. Given my home directory, I’m able to copy over my configuration directories and things are exactly as I had left them. Personally I think this a great position to be in should a hard drive fail for you (if you’re good about keeping up-to-date backups).

Is Linux Still Working?

Overall I’m still absolutely pleased with my switch from Windows to Linux both at home and at work. If anything I honestly think I work faster, smarter, and happier. Given my recent experience with hard drive failure, I’m glad Linux provided the functionality to get back up and running very quickly and easily. I’ll definitely be looking into some automated nightly backup solutions over the next few days due to the fact that a RAID setup isn’t in the cards for me just yet. I don’t plan on retreating back to Windows any time soon and I look forward to working with Linux for a long time to come. I’m not trying to push anyone into checking out Linux and switching, just cataloging my experiences thus far.

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  1. I’ve used both Linux and Windows (sadly my place of work offers only windows on the network) for my development work but tend to be more on Linux than Windows as I just use my laptop at work and nothing but Linux at home. I’ve used Linux for years and I have never had a problem with it when it comes to development work. More stable, secure and flexible than Windows (IMHO).

    There just isn’t any restrictions!

    I’m glad to see that someone else isn’t just following the masses with Windows.

    Nice site btw 🙂

  2. @tek: Yeah, I’m really glad I’ve finally made the switch. I went back and forth quite a few times but never managed to stick it out before. You’ve really got to give Linux a good chance and stick with it soley for a few weeks to see if it’s something for you. Thanks for stopping by!

    @luke_skywalker: That’s very true. I had brought up IEs4Linux as my solution of choice in the first part of this series. Thanks for posting the thought.

    @Roy: I really need to keep up on those updates, huh? Thanks a lot for posting that piece of information! The article has been updated.

  3. 1. Firefox+WebDevelopper > everything else, at least for web dev.
    2. Firefox+many extensions, actually …
    3. You should give Eclipse a try. It might not nearly be as easy as Quanta+, but it’s getting there and it’s going to be much, much better if you start using XML tools (XSLT for example) and especially revision control.
    4. FTP is bad. I recommend using sftp, nicely integrated in Nautilus. Quanta+ should be able to use it directly to, now that I think of it. Well you can use FTP directly in Nautilus, too, now that I think of it.

  4. Hmm, you know that Konqueror does FTP very nicely? That’s what I use for FTP under Linux. Transfers are as simple as copy files from local folder and paste them into the FTP site in Konqueror. Or use drag and drop.

  5. Jon,

    Glad to hear you made the switch! Your time and effort will be paid back 100 fold in the money you’ll be saving on software alone.

    I really believe I’ve never seen Linux as viable on the desktop as with Ubuntu 6.06, and it will only get better from here.

    If you’re doing any PHP or Javascript definitely check out Eclipse (which Aptana is also based on) with the PHPEclipse and Javascript plugins. Great stuff.

    Nice article, I actually picked up a couple things I’m going to check out!

  6. – Quanta Plus (and, obviously, Kate)
    – Yakuake
    – Konqueror (you can do secure ftp via ssh easily with fish)
    – Gimp (bought Pixel, but was really frustrating in many ways and buggy)
    – Firefox (with Web Dev extension)
    – Krusader
    – SSH in general
    – Debian for test server (apt-get makes everything so easy)
    – PwManager (storing and encrypting all those passwords!)

  7. KDE/Konqueror KIO-slaves offers the easiest and most efficient FTP interface: Its just like Konqueror in general – you can copy, cut and paste stuff just as you would in explorer on windows.

    just ftp://target on you konqueror and voila.

    also try out fish://your-ssh-shell

    I especially miss linux (Adobe Flex forced me back to windows) for KIOslaves — dont say FTPing is hard in KDE !

  8. I have undergone roughly the same type of commitment in my desire to run Ubuntu as my primary OS at work and at home.

    In regards to your issue with FTP (I had the same exact headache), I found that simply using the “Connect to Server” in the Gnome menu and selecting FTP with Login was the best solution…even better than normal Windows FTP programs! Now, the FTP site was mounted like a mapped drive, and I could drag and drop freely!

    The biggest problem I had was getting dual monitor support to work. With that functional, and my VMWare server running XP so I can still have my Photoshop (Even Pixel cannot match this program), I have never been happier with my PC!


  9. You might want to try out SSH fs, it uses the linux filesystem-in-userspace (FUSE) to basically mount your sftp share as a filesystem. Saves me a ton of time, and I’ve written a Gentoo-specific intro to it if you are interested. I’ve always found that gFTP and FireFTP were too heavyweight, and although ncFTP and lFTP are good alternatives many people just don’t like quick commandline tools.

  10. Without having read any of the above comments.
    You can use the fuse ftp plugin to work with a remote ftp server as if it was part of your file system. (mount it). This is extremely nice.
    Further more, the reason there are no kickass ftp editors is because most people just use the kio-slaves for kde or gnome-virtual-file-system (gnome-vfs) to simulate a mount of the filesystem.

    The cool thing is, your editor don’t know the file it is editing is on the other side of the globe. And you aren’t nagged about it.

    Sincerely yours.
    Another webprogrammer.

  11. […] This webdesigner made the switch from Windows to Linux a few months ago and chronicled the changes they went through in order to make it work. This is an update on how things are going and on any changes made in order to successfully perform webdev on Linux. The article is aimed specifically at using Linux for Web development instead of avg more | digg story […]

  12. Thanks to everyone for stopping by and leaving your tips and tricks.

    For anyone who missed the link above, be sure to check out part one to this article. It covers many of the things some people have felt I left out of this article. I didn’t want to repeat things that were covered in the other article.

    Firefox extensions are absolutely some of the most valuable tools I have come to use, and the reason I didn’t really get into talking about them was because I wanted to focus primarily on Linux-centric pieces of software. Firefox extensions are wonderfully cross platform and I honestly would be miserable without them.

    gnome-vfs is absolutely a great solution, and I tried using it at work for a bit, but given the particular way our development and live servers are set up, it was almost irritating to have the various windows up and running. It is great to be able to edit files directly from the server using gnome-vfs, however.

    Thanks again for the tips and software titles — keep ’em coming.

  13. Fantastic article. Lots of great tips, thorough and well written. I’ll be coming back to it to investigate the apps you’ve mentioned. Many thanks and highest compliments.

  14. Ha ha, just read your “about” section where you talk about the days of “great post thanks” being over. Sorry to disappoint you, mate! Unfortunately I haven’t got much to add other than to at least point out that what makes this a great post is an approachable writing style and a good instinct for what’s useful.

  15. Every time I’ve used Quanta+, it has had random lockups/crashes that ended up destroying work. I paid for and used Zend Studio for about 3 months, but it too had some lockup/crashing issues. I’m starting to fool around with Komodo from ActiveState a bit, but I basically use Kate or vim for my editing needs, and manually check stuff in/out of Subversion at the commandline.

    Firefox + Web Developer toolbar is a lifesaver too!

  16. @leroy: Ah man I feel bad for making you feel obligated to come back and add to your post. I think I need to refine that section of the About page because supportive comments on an article like this are just as great as any suggestions someone might have. For a reader to see that there are people who support an idea like this is great. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to leave your thoughts.

    @Bruce: It’s funny you mention that because Quanta Plus actually randomly crashed on me for no apparent reason a couple times when I first started using it. It hasn’t happened since and I’m hoping it’s a fluke. Were you using it in Gnome as I am? Or are you a KDE guy…

  17. Man! Ftpsupport in linux is one of major pro’s of using it for webdevelopment.
    You can open remote file in qunata by pressing Ctrl+O and writing in place where path is: You can change file and save it on remote server by pressing Ctrl+S.
    If you have to send some files via ftp just write the same address in konqueror addres bar and just drag and drop files.
    You can use not only ftp:// but also sftp:// or fish:// if you can access server via ssh.

    Passwords can be remembered by kwalletmanager.

    Kate is far more faster than quanta. If you work on a slower machine and with large files I strongly advise using Kate. There is an interesting feature. You can bookmark line with Ctrl+B and jump between bookmarks by Alt+PgUp, Alt+PgDown

  18. If you have the option consider going with subversion (SVN, apt-get install subversion) instead of CVS, SVN fixes some of the warts in CVS.

  19. @scotty79: I’m hoping Quanta doesn’t slow down for me, as it has a few features that Kate lacks. My work machine is fairly decent and doesn’t seem to have trouble running anything.

    @Dusty: Do you think you could elaborate on some of the troubles of CVS? I’m not completely familiar with each… and less familiar with the pros and cons. Thanks for the tip!

  20. Jon, you made the switch! I must say you must have more will power than me.

    I use linux on my laptop which I use just about all the time for browsing/docs/etc…..

    However making the switch to linux and a laptop for web development proved a tad too hard for the moment. I mainly had problems with the laptopishtic side of it all. Its can be a problem.

    Soon I will be using linux and my laptop for everything….

  21. Jon –

    I definitely would have to agree with the above posters, regarding Subversion vs. CVS. Another reason is that it sounds to me like you have a mixed work environment (windows/linux)… the other folks in your enterprise (yeah, those windows people) will appreciate TortoiseSVN vs. integrated CVS tools, I promise. Take a minute to help them figure it out (after you’ve become an SVN god, of course) and, hopefully, you’ll never have to learn why so many of us loath CVS.

    If you’re curious, try searching the LKML sometime for posts by Linus that contain “CVS” and get ready for some bitching and moaning…

  22. You can use Quanta to edit your files remotely directly on the ftp. And if your webserver is running an ssh server it is even easier.

    Just type in the open dialog box of quanta.

    If you want you can also use ssh with fish. Once the key exchanged is set up it is really easy : fish://

    If you install KDE, you can use konqueror as a ftp software, it is far better than gFTP ! You can split the panes and move file from a samba share onto a ftp remote place and so on.

    Try KDE, and get over Gnome. Gnome is for newcommers who wants a mac-ish experience. If you wan to feel the power of linux, use KDE ;-0

  23. instead of using vmware try wine. This is kind of emulator.You don’t need to set up the whole windows system (and it takes less system memory, so needed in case of gnome or kde). Unfortunalelly I was not able to run photoshop on it but for small windows programs is great (IE should also work). Problems with IE on linux (even trough IEs4Linux) is that it is usualy working slightly different to those on WIN machine (don’t ask me why-that’s the fact).

    and at work try puppy linux ( great one and you dont need to ask your IT guy or anyone else (of course if you have usb or cd boot on)

  24. Have you considered checking out from CVS directly to your public web directory on the server? Then FTP doesn’t have to be involved at all– you just issue a CVS (or Subversion) update command on the server side.

    (You do have to configure your webserver to not serve the .svn or CVS directories, but that’s not incredibly difficult.)

  25. If you’ve added a few non-default packages to your Ubuntu system then you can create a dump of the package list which will let you automate the reinstallation of them if you need to reinstall.

    This creates the list in your home directory:

    dpkg –get-selections > ~/packages.txt

    When you have got your reinstalled machine up and running, and have copied your home directory across use this to mark all the packages you had previously for installation:

    dpkg –set-selections < ~/packages.txt after marking the packages you have to run “dselect” and use the “Install” option to actually cause the packages to be downloaded and installed.

  26. Very good article, clean writing style and am glad you’re another person to have made the switch to Linux.

    I had much the same issues: trying to use Linux but always going back to Windows (even though I hated it) just for the comfort. I also did what you did and have switched entirely. Am glad you documented it though!

    As for suggestions on an editor: the only thing Eclipse can do that Vim can’t is eat my CPU. 🙂
    Really, there is only one true editor worth mentioning, and that’s Vim! 😀

  27. After reading the comments here, I’ll definitely be looking into SVN as opposed to CVS — my curiousity is peaked as to what the true differences are.

    @Dimitry: That’s great to hear — all I can say is that I’m really happy with the switch, but you have to force yourself to stick with it for at least a few weeks to really see how things work, you know?

    @s. m. das: I will absolutely look into that because there are other people at my office on Windows machines — thanks for the tip!

    @Stephane: I was using Kubuntu (KDE version of Ubuntu) for a while during my initial switch from home. I know lots of people prefer KDE, but for me it just didn’t feel right.

    @Razor: Not that I can see, but I assume that may be because Quanta is based off Kate, which is a native KDE app whereas gnome-vfs is a part of Gnome.

    @renton: Wine is absolutely great, but it can’t do everything. Some people will need to install a virtual machine in order to use a certain application.

    @Jim Van Fleet: It’s something we plan on looking into and researching heavily before we get it up and running — but thanks for the lead!

    @Mark: (I hope you don’t mind I cleaned up your edit) Awesome tip! That’s something I will definitely keep in mind for the future.

    @Liam McDermott: Thanks very much. I must admit I was intimidated by vim when I tried it out. I’m so used to a GUI editor that I ended up backing out. I have a feeling I may be returning sooner than I expect, however.

  28. Welcome to the ‘Darkside’…

    I have been using Linux for more than 7 years now and I use it everday for my ColdFusion development as well as graphic design.

    The best editor hands-down is Eclipse. With the new 3.2 release you can add all the features from the Callisto project including built-in FTP support, and file-transfer support. It has a ton of plugins available for free as well such as the Web Tools plugins which give you and XML editor and some great CSS editors as well.

    For Photoshop, I run Crossover Office from Codeweavers. Best piece of software I have EVER paid for. Its only around $59 dollars but you can run Photoshop, iTunes, IE and tons of other stuff. Just dont get caught up in being able to install MS Office on it though. OpenOffice is 10 times better.

    Good luck with your venture into the linux world. Its a great way to work!

  29. @Russ: That’s awesome. I’ve looked up and down at Crossover Office, but heard that it can only really run older versions of Photoshop — do you have it running CS2?

  30. It is very easy to create a FTP (or any other popular connection) to a remote sercer with Nautilus: Places > Connect to Server on menubar or File > Connect to Server from within Nautilus , you enter the usual details about the connection. You wil see a link on your desktop and a link in Nautilus on the sidebar. You’ll browse the remote folders as if they were on your machine.

  31. Let me add to the chorus telling you to look at Subversion (SVN) instead of CVS. Rather than swamp you with stuff, though, let me just point you at a couple of links that’ll help spell out just how much of an impact Subversion is making. Before I do so, however, you should be aware that the Subversion project was started by a couple of CVS developers to address its shortcomings. Now, the links:

    Graph showing the take up of Subversion for public repositories:


    List of big OSS projects using Subversion:

    Linux Journal article comparing CVS to Subversion. CVS doesn’t come off too well. 🙂

  32. Another great article on the the topic of swapping operating systems and making the jump to LInux. I have to make an admission, I actually bought a KVM switch yesterday and am now running 3 boxes (Ubuntu – Main PC, Ubuntu – Local Dev Server, Win2000pro – Photoshop & Testing) through one monitor and keyboard/Mouse.

    I am under commercial pressure to run Photoshop but the only version of it I got running keeps crashing now. I hoped it would get better with the latest release of WINE but it never happened 🙁 This is the reason I ended up running a windows box. The same commercial pressures have meant I had to ditch attempting to get a virtual machine on the go. My KVM switch has just revitalised my efforts.

    I am still 99% running Ubuntu although I have managed to loose some keymapping (pound sign, screenshot & tab complete in Gaim… go figure???), you encouraging words on the homer folder have inspired me to do some re-installation the minute I have some down time.

    I also had some fun with a Lacie external drive packing in which has hampered my rig slightly as I had to swallow up a lot of space on other drives.

    Anyway, thanks for the linkage and congrats on a great, informative article…

    Bring on Pt 3!!!

  33. I forgot one item. Subversion no longer recommends using BerkeleyDB as the back end. They’ve written something called fs/fs, which I think stands for FileSystem/FileSystem as a replacement. The Subversion installation script now defaults to fs/fs.

  34. Have you heard of GimpShop? it’s a hack that rearranges/renames things in GIMP to make it easier for people who are traditionally comfortable with Photoshop.

    Also Inkscape is a really cool SVG vector drawing program that can be used to make graphical site mock-ups.

  35. Jon

    As a long time Linux user (and before that Unix) I enjoy reading about those that find that moving over to Linux to be worth the effort.

    However, one thing struck me. You concider you Linux system to be a replacement for your Windows workstation. Have you concidered turning it into a test webserver too?

    I do some Web development from time to time and I run Apache (the most popular web server) on my desktop system as well as my full development environment. When I want to test something I just hit “save” and then “refresh”. No need to copy files to a remote server, my local workstation is the server. I find this greatly improves my efficency.


  36. I just want to throw in my preference for Geany. I use it under XFCE, and it’s light and powerful. Not specifically for web development, but it has a lot of useful templates and text block insertions.

  37. I love KDE and Konqueror for ftp! I have a profile saved in konq that has three windows. One contains a fish to my webhost, one contains a fish to my local test server, and the third contains a cirvisia listing to my local CVS sandbox. With this one view, I can checkin / update via CVS any changes (actually, any CVS function can be done) and copy (drag and drop) any files to either the production server or the test server.
    I use Quanta+ for my editor, and I use the Gimp for images. Krita ( is growing up nicely though, and someday I will likely change to that.
    This is a great article! It’s great to see someone share their experience in switching.

  38. I switched to Linux from Windows for all my work just over a year ago, entirely thanks to Quanta+. It’s the best web editor I’ve ever used, bar none.

    Re FTP issues, have you checked out Quanta’s project management? I haven’t seen it mentioned here, but you can set up any number of FTP “profiles”. Then click on “Upload Project” and you’ll find Quanta has kept track of all the files that have changed since you last uploaded and marked them for upload automatically. You can review this list, change it if necessary, then just click “Proceed” and everything will be uploaded to the right place automatically. This is a great feature: test and debug locally, then a single click to upload all changed files to the development server for testing. I still keep gFTP around for quick one-or-two file uploads.

    PS I’m also using SVN. Check out eSVN for a GUI SVN client if you need one: I tried a few and liked this one best. It’s worth learning the basic SVN commands though as it’s quicker to do at the command line.

  39. Thanks for all the great tips!

    I have a local webserver running on my machine at home, but a lot of this article revolved using Linux at work, where we have to share development, storage, and production servers among a number of people. Running a local server wouldn’t help my coworkers all that much, and wouldn’t help me much either.

    Thanks again for all the mentions of your favorite apps so that everyone can have a chance to check them all out.

  40. […] Recently I read across some experiences of a Web developer (read: web page designer) who switched from Windows to Linux. Though it wasn’t very interesting for me since I do not really design web pages one detail caught my attention: he talked about the shortcomings of GIMP, and mentioned that he used the Pixel Image Editor (Homepage, Wikipedia entry) instead. The interesting fact is that this proprietary raster graphics editor runs on Linux – and features the CMYK color model, indexed colors and HDR, functions which are missing in GIMP and which keeps GIMP from entering the professional image manipulation market (besides other, also missing functions). […]

  41. […] This webdesigner made the switch from Windows to Linux a few months ago and chronicled the changes they went through in order to make it work. This is an update on how things are going and on any changes made in order to successfully perform webdev on Linux. The article is aimed specifically at using Linux for Web development instead of avg more | digg story […]

  42. To all those who advocate the use of wine……DONT.

    It hinders proper development on equivilant programs for linux.

    Plus if your trying to see how you page will look in internet desolver 5, 5.5, 6 or 7 then run it in VMWARE…..


    cause the wine versions of IE do not render the code exactly as it would if IE was running on a windows machine or vmware….which is the whole point of even having ie on your linix box in the first place isnt it?…come on now get serious and stop mucking around with laodecian measures.

    The advantage of running vmware become much more apparent when you dedicate it to a single linux box, after which all your windozers, macOxers, and liners can connect to a remote windows session….which means that you can control, update and ensure the quiltiy of the software from one place on one set of applications….not fifty million desktops over fifty floors of noobie hell.

  43. @airtonix: I can definitely see your point about Wine being counter-productive. It almost defeats the entire purpose of migrating to Linux. Personally, I use IEs4Linux to do a quick and dirty test of sites because you can fix a lot of errors using it. I definitely will boot up VMWare for final testing however because you’re right, there are differences.

    One thing you did say was: The advantage of running vmware become much more apparent when you dedicate it to a single linux box

    I’m not sure I follow you there, however. If you dedicate an entire machine only to running Windows on a Linux machine running VMWare… how come you would have installed Linux at all?

    Thanks for posting your opinion!

  44. Well, VMware is the main point, since it gives easy access to restoring the system. “Ghosting” a normal windows partition can also do the trick, but I don’t think it can be automated, which amounts to higher costs.
    Finally, choosing Linux over Windows for the VMware host might be a case of preference. I’d guess a Windows VMware host has better performance for running Windows? This could be a security choice, or the cost of (or even lack of?) windows licenses for this kind of setup.

  45. I was using Photoshop three years ago, when I finally switched to GNU/Linux full time, I gave PS up (I became tired of Wine+PS). After six months of struggling I became quite attached to Gimp, and last year when I was teaching web design to a class – I had to use PS again: I was irritated by the UI(!). So now I know I’m more comfortable working in Gimp, than PS. Although photographer-me wants adjustment layers. For web design I use Inkscape, and Gimp for small touch-ups.

    I’m really thrilled by your articles – it’s really nice. I’m bookmarking the first to show friends who are not totally sure to make the switch. Nice to see another good person turn to the Free side 😉

  46. @Odin Omdal Hørthe: I too have become fond of the GIMP, but I’m mostly focusing my efforts on Pixel for the time being. I know Pixel isn’t free — but it has great potential. The author is extremely responsive to suggestions/requests and that’s one of the major reasons I decided to purchase the application and support it. It’s very interesting that you actually found the interface for Photoshop to be irritating. I’m very glad you like the articles, I hope to write more in the future. I’m so happy with my switch to Linux, but it did take some time to make a full adjustment.

  47. […] Another article that really took me by surprise with it’s popularity was Linux and Web Development Intro. I wasn’t sure if people would be that interested in whether or not I was able to operate successfully in a FOSS environment. The follow-up article, Linux and Web Development Part 2 was another big hit, and explained how my move to Linux was one of the best changes I’ve ever made. […]

  48. […] Linux and Web Development Part 2 Overall I’m still absolutely pleased with my switch from Windows to Linux both at home and at work. If anything I honestly think I work faster, smarter, and happier. Given my recent experience with hard drive failure, I’m glad Linux provided the functionality to get back up and running very quickly and easily. I’ll definitely be looking into some automated nightly backup solutions over the next few days due to the fact that a RAID setup isn’t in the cards for me just yet. I don’t plan on retreating back to Windows any time soon and I look forward to working with Linux for a long time to come. I?m not trying to push anyone into checking out Linux and switching, just cataloging my experiences thus far. […]

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