Pinterest Stumbleupon Whatsapp
Ads by Google

People have been asking Adobe to make Creative Suite available on Linux for several years now, but Adobe has been adamant about its answer: no. Why not? Most likely because the market share is too small to be worth the effort.

But the demographic is there. The overlap between “Linux users” and “creative users” is larger than many of us would expect, and many of them have been dying for a Linux Creative Suite for years.

The good news is that now, in 2016, viable options do exist.

Between all of the Adobe Creative products Your Guide to Choosing The Right Adobe Product Your Guide to Choosing The Right Adobe Product When most people think of Adobe, they either think of Photoshop or Acrobat Reader. But the company has a plethora of other useful software packages that most people know nothing about. Read More currently available, most of them have usable Linux alternatives. And while you won’t be able to use the Creative Cloud mobile apps Should You Download Adobe's Creative Cloud Android Apps? Should You Download Adobe's Creative Cloud Android Apps? Watch us put Adobe's four Creative Cloud Android apps -- Capture, Photoshop, Lightroom, and Illustrator -- to the test. Read More with them, they’re still worth checking.

For Photoshop: GIMP or Krita

“Photoshop alternatives for Linux” is unsurprisingly one of the most common search queries among first-time Linux users. And while GIMP was the go-to answer for many years, that’s kind of changing now.

linux-creative-suite-gimp

Ads by Google

Not that there’s anything wrong with GIMP. In fact, as far as needing a “Photoshop clone” on Linux, there’s nothing better. GIMP is powerful and feature-rich straight out of the box, and can be improved with third-party plugins Better Than Photoshop? Make GIMP Even More Powerful With These Plugins Better Than Photoshop? Make GIMP Even More Powerful With These Plugins We all know that Photoshop is the premiere application for image and graphics manipulation. It simply does everything you could possibly want, which is the reason why most professionals choose it and why your wallet... Read More .

So yes, even though GIMP has its flaws — such as the fact that it isn’t as intuitive or polished — it’s definitely the closest thing to Photoshop right now GIMP vs Photoshop: Which One is Right for You? GIMP vs Photoshop: Which One is Right for You? Photoshop is the most popular image editing app out there and GIMP is the best free alternative to it. Which should you use? Read More .

linux-creative-suite-krita

But there’s another program out there that’s been turning heads over the past few years. It’s called Krita and users are slowly abandoning GIMP and flocking over to it instead 5 Photoshop Alternatives You Can Run on Linux 5 Photoshop Alternatives You Can Run on Linux it is tragic that after all these years, the open platform of Linux still has yet to produce competing software that can really match Photoshop head-to-head. But powerful options are available... Read More .

Krita is primarily a tool for digital painters and artists, so it’s only a good alternative to Photoshop if that’s the kind of work you do. But for things like logos, drawings, and artwork No Photoshop: 15 Amazing Logos & Portraits Made With Open Source Tools No Photoshop: 15 Amazing Logos & Portraits Made With Open Source Tools It seems like there’s a growing number of users that have given GIMP, Inkscape and other open-source software a chance. With a lot of patience, skill and enthusiasm, many users have demonstrated time and again... Read More , Krita is more user-friendly.

For Lightroom: Darktable or RawTherapee

If you’re a photographer, Photoshop may not actually be the best application for your needs — you might want to use Lightroom instead Photoshop or Lightroom: Which One Should You Use? Photoshop or Lightroom: Which One Should You Use? If you can gain access to both of them, we highly recommend it. But what if you could only choose one? Read More . Unfortunately, neither are available for Linux, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

There are two free alternatives to Lightroom 13 Free Alternatives to Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, & More 13 Free Alternatives to Photoshop, Illustrator, Lightroom, & More What if you don't want to spend $50 per month on a Creative Cloud subscription? The good news is that there are free alternatives available. Here are some of the best. Read More that are actually quite good. Neither is objectively better than the other, so we’ll recommend both and leave it up to you to decide which one you like more.

linux-creative-suite-darktable

The first is Darktable, which is the most oft-recommended program among Linux photographers. The interface is complex but it turns out good results. It’s also relatively light on resource usage, so better for older computers and weaker hardware.

linux-creative-suite-rawtherapee

The second is RawTherapee. The interface is simpler to learn and navigate, but lacks some features that you may need (such as selective editing with masks). RawTherapee is also slightly worse at managing large libraries with lots of photos.

Compare the feature set for Darktable with the feature set for RawTherapee to help make your decision a bit easier.

For Illustrator: Inkscape

Not many free applications can be considered as good as their paid counterparts, but Inkscape is one of them. In fact, it’s one of the best free alternatives to paid software 14 Free & Open Source Alternatives For Paid Software 14 Free & Open Source Alternatives For Paid Software Don't waste money on software for personal use! Not only do free alternatives exist, they most likely offer all the features you need and may be easier and safer to use. Read More out there. No need to spend money here.

linux-creative-suite-inkscape

Inkscape is what you should use if you want to create or edit vector graphics. Vector graphics are mathematical rather than pixel-based, so they can be printed at any resolution. They’re great for creating infographics 10 Awesome Free Tools To Make Infographics 10 Awesome Free Tools To Make Infographics Read More , for example.

Although Inkscape suffers from a sub-par interface and lack of professional polish, it’s feature complete and certainly usable in a professional environment if needed.

For Premiere Pro: Lightworks or Kdenlive

Professional video editing has often been seen as an activity best suited for Macs, and only in the past decade have viable options come to light on Windows. But for Linux? Video editing can be a pain.

linux-creative-suite-lightworks

So if you can, we recommend paying for quality Linux software 7 Paid Linux App Alternatives That Are Worth the Money 7 Paid Linux App Alternatives That Are Worth the Money We all know Linux is a bastion of open source software, a platform flooded with free apps and programs. But there are also plenty of paid apps that you should take a look at. Read More . Lightworks is very good — it was used to edit The Wolf of Wall Street, Pulp Fiction, Hugo, and more — but it’s also a bit costly at $438 (or $25 per month). However, you do get what you pay for.

Sure, Lightworks can be used for free, but there are restrictions. You can only export up to 720p and you lose a lot of quality-of-life features, such as timeline rendering, advanced project management, and Boris FX packages.

The paid version unlocks everything and can export up to 4K.

linux-creative-suite-kdenlive

If you want a video editor that’s completely free but still as professional as possible, Kdenlive is your best option. It’s open source, actively developed, and packed full of advanced features.

For Animate: Synfig

Animate is the program formerly known as Flash Pro, the vector animation program that was used in the past to create Flash animations. Now that the web has moved from Flash to HTML5, Adobe rebranded as Animate.

linux-creative-suite-synfig

Synfig has been the open source alternative to Adobe’s program since 2005, and is still the best choice for those who want to pursue 2D vector animation without handing over cash to Adobe. It’s free and in active development.

Synfig uses its own animation file format, but can export to AVI, MPG, GIF, SVG, PNG, and more. Despite the learning curve, you’ll be able to pick up the ropes quickly enough thanks to the user-contributed documentation and tutorials.

For Audition: Ardour or LMMS

Audition doesn’t get as much time in the limelight as Photoshop or Premiere Pro, but it’s a nifty piece of software that’s worthy of recognition. Formerly known as Cool Edit Pro, Audition is what you’d use to edit digital audio.

Audition is a digital audio workstation in the same line as Logic Pro on OS X. From what I know, Audition is used mainly by professional podcasters How to Easily Record an Audio or Video Podcast on Linux How to Easily Record an Audio or Video Podcast on Linux Podcasting is a media-based activity, so Linux users might think that podcasting is best done on Windows or OS X. While true historically, it's a myth we're happy to dispel! Read More , but can be used for so much more, like recording and mixing your own music.

linux-creative-suite-ardour

Audacity is the go-to audio editor for most Linux users, but when Audacity isn’t enough, you should think about either Ardour or LMMS.

Ardour is the best DAW available on Linux right now. Not only does it have a clean and usable interface, but it’s packed full of advanced features. Very good and highly recommended.

It’s available for free but only produces audio up to 10 minutes long. You can unlock the full feature set by buying the full version, which has a “pay what you want” price tag. Seriously, you can buy it for as low as $1.

linux-creative-suite-lmms

LMMS, formerly known as Linux MultiMedia Studio, is another good option. This one is completely free but slightly inferior to Ardour. The interface is a bit harder to grasp and the learning curve is a bit steeper, but it’s still useful.

Check out the LMMS Showcase to see examples of tracks that have been made with LMMS.

For InDesign: Scribus

I don’t know of many people who do desktop publishing on Linux, but if you need an alternative to Adobe InDesign, rest assured that such an alternative does exist. It’s called Scribus.

Scribus can be used to create brochures, newsletters, posters, and even book layouts. It can also be used to create animated and interactive PDFs — the kind of stuff you’d expect from any desktop publishing program worth its salt.

It does have a few downsides though, such as the fact it can’t import or export InDesign files. Also, it’s not entirely polished and free of bugs, which can prove frustrating for heavy users. Fortunately, the Scribus documentation is pretty good.

The Ultimate Linux Creative Suite

If you absolutely need programs that are on par with Adobe, then save yourself the headache. Run a copy of Windows alongside Linux What's the Best Way to Run Multiple Operating Systems on Your PC? What's the Best Way to Run Multiple Operating Systems on Your PC? Undecided between Windows and Linux? It's possible to run multiple OSes on a single machine either by dual booting or using a virtual machine. Let's find out which one is best for you. Read More (either in a virtual machine or in a dual-boot setup) and get the Creative Cloud applications.

But if you’re okay with a bit of sacrifice here and there, these programs make for a passable Linux Creative Suite:

  • GIMP
  • Darktable
  • Inkscape
  • Lightworks
  • Synfig
  • Ardour
  • Scribus

Do you do any creative work on Linux? Which programs do you prefer to use in place of Adobe’s Creative Cloud? Are there any we missed? Share with us down in the comments below!

  1. Lee
    October 28, 2016 at 3:03 pm

    I've used Scribus for a couple of exhibitions as a volunteer, and for a picture book for a friend who wanted to self-publish.

    I agree the documentation is excellent, but as always with free software even an amateur like me (competent I hope) finds one or two show-stoppers. Here, it was the limited styling possibilities for the frames you put around text and image objects; the lines you create have to disposed symmetrically about the axis and they don't look good. Perhaps someone familiar with the comprehensive macro/programming environment facilities could write a solution - it would take me too long to do that.

    By the way, Scribus does have colour management. I don't understand much about the details, but the printshop in town found it adequate. I don't know to what extent that meets the needs of professionals.

    Concerning the other software I have tried (Gimp & Inkscape), I agree that they are frustrating for occasional users and I do retreat to Photoshop Elements on my Windows machine (when those dreadful W10 updates allow me to use it).

    Possibly a bit OT: I don't recommend Scribus for complicated text-intensive documents, specially ones with lots of references and cross-references. LibreOffice hasn't taken the right direction in my opinion and is currently rather quirky and unreliable. Fortunately, I'm familiar with LaTeX which is well worth learning if you need automatic professional quality typesetting. I've done a novel, and quite a few scientific papers. It really isn't as difficult as it looks, because of the huge amount of help on the web. Images and so on are handled of course. This should be a good alternative to some of the Adobe products I haven't seen. However, the colour management isn't quite up to the latest trends; last time I looked it could do only PDF-X/1.

  2. goliworm
    October 28, 2016 at 5:43 am

    Video editing and colorgrading: Davinci Resolve!

  3. Jose Orrego
    October 25, 2016 at 4:33 am

    Blender is an excellent substitute for After Effects.

  4. Jose Orrego
    October 25, 2016 at 4:32 am

    Blender = After Effects

  5. jEsuSdA 8)
    September 5, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Please, rectify the article an remove the Ardour 1$ version.
    Ardour is TOTALLY free (as in freedom and as in beer) and you don't need to pay for use all its potential.

    Thanks and good article (except by the 1$ mistake) ;)

    • James Maynard Gelinas
      September 8, 2016 at 6:49 am

      No. Ardour.org wants payment for official compiled binaries. But it's free software, they do give the source away. On Linux, it's pretty easy to compile. But for MacOS X (and I expect Windows too), it's a real PITA. I pay for the binary. And I have to admit, it's a really good program. It's worth the payment.

  6. ap
    August 21, 2016 at 7:51 pm

    These aren't alternatives when Scribus doesn't handle prepress work well.

  7. TheSola10
    August 5, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    Do you know about Bitwig Studio? It might be way better than Ardour, and is the closest to the legendary Ableton Live.

    • Joel Lee
      August 19, 2016 at 7:31 pm

      I haven't heard of it, no. I'll check it out though! Thanks for the tip, TheSola.

  8. Sugi
    July 18, 2016 at 6:16 am

    So essentially, Linux is still plagued by software compatibility issues, and instead of attracting the developers who matter most, "here are a bunch of alternatives!"
    Typical

    • Joel Lee
      July 26, 2016 at 4:20 pm

      No that's not really the point being made here but I guess you can read into it what you want to see.

      • ozfer
        November 25, 2016 at 4:09 pm

        He is pretty much correct. None of these programs are as good as the original. GIMP is under powered vs photoshop. CInnerwhatever is wayyyy wayyy under powered compared to sony vegas. There is no GOOD cad suit for linux. The list goes on and on..... most games are not compiled for linux, and the few that are never get developer time so they are buggy as heck. All source games are 5x buggier on mac and 10x buggier on linux. Rust is known to be almost not working on linux with no updates from the devs. All games get a 10-20FPS hit when they are on linux. XORG/X11 is slow as crap and nvidia and ati driver support is poo....

  9. Matthias “hidekin” Brunisholz
    July 7, 2016 at 8:57 am

    I use mainly Pixeluvo , it's a paid app around $30 but the UI is a lot better than GIMP even with less features it helps with my workflow with Darktable.
    It has less features but they're very good.

  10. John Bucan
    June 23, 2016 at 12:47 am

    Am sorry to write this but adobe products nothing can change, those are very good and professional programs and they get better and better, basic user can be satisfy with alternatives but pro's stick to mac or windows (for what i have saw most users who work creative jobs stick to mac).

    Am not using pro tools, am noob so this satisfy my need to do something "quickly".
    Linux is only "behind" because major companies dont make programs and games for him.

    • Joel Lee
      June 24, 2016 at 1:52 am

      Yeah, when you get to a professional level, sometimes it's just easier to go with industry standards. That's one case where the Creative Cloud can really shine. Thanks John!

    • Michael Tunnell
      July 7, 2016 at 6:46 pm

      Pros don't have to stick to Mac or Windows. I am a Linux user and have been exclusively for almost a decade. I created a workaround so that my Photoshop and other Adobe tools are stored inside of a Windows Virtual Machine. This has served me well for years and I never really have any drawbacks in fact there are dozens of benefits in doing this like the ability to save my work as well as create snapshot saves of my Photoshop environment.

      The only drawback I've experienced is running out of temp storage when working with enormous projects like designing signs that are 72" x 72" at 300+ DPI. It's still fine with that too but some issues become noticeable when doing that. They are also easily avoided though but I didnt know about them at first and don't work with that size projects enough to care so I haven't fixed it yet but I will someday. :)

  11. Hilmy
    June 21, 2016 at 10:06 am

    Is there any alternative to Adobe After Effect for Linux?

    • Joel Lee
      June 24, 2016 at 1:51 am

      I looked around for one but did not find anything comparable. Then again, I don't have too much experience doing video post-production so maybe that's just my inexperience showing through. Sorry I couldn't help, Hilmy.

    • Russ
      July 4, 2016 at 1:42 pm

      have a look at natron , free video compositor .

    • jahid65
      July 6, 2016 at 9:00 pm

      Not an 1:1 replacement. Nuke (paid) and natrron can do the compositing part very well or may be better. But their workflow is totally different from After Effect.

    • Ahmed W.
      July 7, 2016 at 3:08 am

      Blender can be used too kinda.

    • Aurumque
      August 8, 2016 at 10:47 pm

      Natron

  12. Josh
    May 24, 2016 at 5:12 am

    I've been following Inkscape for years, and you're right: the interface is awful. I've learned to deal with it when I need to, but I still run into one major problem that won't be solved any time soon (if ever): Inkscape has no support for Pantone colors. In a professional printing environment, working with client's brand guidelines every day, having access to a Pantone color library is essential.

    The other concern is simply that everyone else is using Illustrator. Inkscape can open Illustrator files, but it's still far from perfect. I'm opening files that come from other designers on a daily basis. I've got to know that what I'm seeing is correct.

    I hope the issues are resolved someday. I'd love to have more freedom in what software to use (and not need to pay monthly subscription fees to get the latest version).

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2016 at 2:12 am

      Yeah you're absolutely right. As users start growing towards the professional end of the spectrum, many of these alternatives start to show limitations that Adobe products don't have. At that point, I guess there's no choice but to use the industry standards. :(

  13. Lazza
    May 21, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    Very valuable article, as usual for MUO. :) I personally use GIMP and Inkscape a lot and I consider myself an advanced user. Nevertheless, sometimes you just want a quick'n'dirty solution to get a social picture quickly. In that case, I use either Pablo or Canva. They are web apps and both free (Canva also offers the chance to buy pictures and assets, but it is not mandatory).

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2016 at 2:11 am

      Thanks Lazza! Glad you liked the post. I've heard good things about Canva, but Pablo is new to me. I'll check them out. Thanks for the recommendations! :)

  14. Starr
    May 21, 2016 at 4:09 pm

    I really hope you can help me. I've downloaded a drawing app on my iPad that I use to be in love with, it was awesome, gave me what I needed, very organized, was thrilled about it. I've went to the App Store to update it, thinking there be better improvements and the new version of this app no longer has the drawing tools & other features that was on the previous version. i am very upset about this. I would like to know if there is a way to restore the current version of this app to the previous version. Please, please help me.

  15. Scott Petrovic
    May 21, 2016 at 12:08 pm

    Very nice article. I draw and paint quite a bit on Linux and notice linux versions are always much faster than their windows counterpart. I use Krita. I would be interested why companies choose windows over linux. The reason why so many people choose windows is because that is what their employer uses...or what they teach in school.

    • Howard Blair
      May 22, 2016 at 9:09 pm

      Businesses choose Windows because of domain lockdowns they can enact in their Active Directory domains, and because Windows is more polished, has better drivers, and has a huge userbase to draw on for fixes.

      • TheSola10
        August 5, 2016 at 3:31 pm

        I don't find Windows polished, nor does it have good drivers, let aside "better". I have never seen an OS less optimized than Windows so...

  16. Kristijan
    May 20, 2016 at 10:30 pm

    Inkscape would really benefit from CMYK support, I love it otherwise.

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2016 at 2:10 am

      I rarely work with CMYK so I did not know that Inkscape lacked it. Good to know. Thanks Kristijan.

  17. Robert Friendship
    May 20, 2016 at 7:54 am

    I have Xubuntu on an old Acer Netbook in which I installed a SSD after hard drive failure.
    It work just fine.

    There are so many fantastic offerings with Linux. I am in a similar position to Alan with Windows but I think there will come a day, for me, when Linux will be the only platform.

    Great and valuable article, many thanks. Kind regards to all.

    Auld Bobby Friendship.

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2016 at 2:10 am

      Thanks for the kind words Robert! Glad you liked the article. :)

  18. albert.prabhu.raj
    May 20, 2016 at 7:52 am

    For your kind information LMMS is equivalent to Fruity Loops and not Adobe Audition.

    Ardour has advanced features only in the PAID version.

    Both Lightworks and Ardour (PAID versions) are expensive from where I come (INDIA).

    • Robin
      May 20, 2016 at 10:54 pm

      Have another look at the Ardour download page. Only the subscribed version is "pay-by-the-month". You get the full static version (no updates) for at least a $1. Can't beat that price.

    • jahid65
      July 6, 2016 at 8:53 pm

      Ardour is open source. So in theory, you can build it from source. Actually, some distro like KXStudio and AV Linux come with it by default. It is available in most distro's repo. So you can use it free in Linux desktop.

  19. albert.prabhu.raj
    May 20, 2016 at 7:46 am

    For your kind information LMMS is equivalent to Fruity Loops and not Adobe Audition.

    Ardour has advanced features only in the PAID version

    Both Lightworks (paid version) and Ardour (paid version) are expensive. I cannot afford either from where I come from (INDIA)

    • DraconianDebate
      May 20, 2016 at 11:43 pm

      You can chose how much to pay for Ardour (as little as $1 USD)....

  20. Eddie G.
    May 20, 2016 at 4:54 am

    @Alan: If I may, might I recommend that you try Linux Mint? in either the MATE or Cinnamon desktop configuration. Either one should treat you right. As for running Windows after installing Linux Mint you'll want to go to its Software Manager and type in VirtualBox, and install that, then you can run Windows in a "sandboxed" environment securely "removed" from your Linux OS while still being readily available at a moment's notice. Try it....it could be just what you need!...enjoy!

  21. Alan
    May 19, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    Howdy, Joel.

    Thank you for this info-rich article. It has motivated me to move forward with a Linux distro... likely some flavor of Ubuntu.

    I have fired Microsoft for all its software except OS... my 2010 laptop runs Win 7... and with the MS's RUDE and invasive practice to force Win 10 installation (which I have successfully terminated)... so I am now really mentally ready to consider some configuration and distro of Ubuntu to start the transition on this laptop.

    I will be using many Win SEO type applications... so most likely I will be forced to retain a working Win OS in some configuration.

    Can you offer any recommendations?

    Thank you much in advance,

    ~ Alan

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2016 at 2:09 am

      Glad you liked the article, Alan. Have you ever used Linux before? The most common recommendations for newbies are Ubuntu (or a variant) and Linux Mint. Linux Mint is actually quite good and many consider it better than Ubuntu, so maybe you can start with that one.

  22. That1guy
    May 19, 2016 at 10:19 pm

    I haven't used Adobe products in years. Richer and happier. The products have always had good features they are just bug ridden, slow and too expensive to have on multiple computers.

    • Joel Lee
      June 1, 2016 at 2:07 am

      They can be slow, yeah. If you don't have a top-of-the-line machine, the lag can be frustrating. Nice to know you're using the alternatives and actually happy doing so. Thanks for sharing, That1guy!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *