Say Goodbye to Adobe Creative Suite

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Adobe Creative Suite is a collection of applications for people who are, lets see….creative? Yes. Its a whole suite of applications that can be used to edit, enhance, beautify photos, create vector art, create vector animation, desktop publishing, website design, video editing, DVD menu designs and so on.

Sounds like tasks you can or want to do? Go ahead, the Adobe Creative Suite is for you.

Did I hear you asking about the cost? Well it can be a couple of thousand dollars or so depending upon the version you choose.

Fear not because here is a compiled list of software that will not only allow you to do all the above mentioned work but it also costs less. Uhmm….actually it happens that they are all free.

So here I present the open source alternatives to the popular Creative Suite applications:

Adobe Acrobat Reader ==> Sumatra PDF

Sumatra PDF aims to create a small, simple and fast PDF viewer. Its main features are showing PDFs and starting up really fast – and it does both just perfectly. Sumatra PDF is very portable since it has no external dependencies – it is just one file, so you can easily put on your USB stick and take it with you.
Download here

Adobe Acrobat ==> PDFCreator

No I didn’t write this twice by mistake. Pop Quiz – What’s the difference between Adobe Acrobat Reader and Adobe Acrobat? Is there one? Lets see who answers this first!

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PDFCreator is an open source printer driver that creates PDF documents. “Printer Driver” means that it allows you to create PDF files from any Windows application. The PDF files can then be viewed with a standard PDF reader. You have options to add security and encryption also.
Download here

Adobe Photoshop ==> Paint.NET

Paint.NET is a bitmap drawing and editing application. It is created in C# and is a .NET application. Paint.NET is a simple and easy to use application with an intuitive user interface which in some cases is better than Photoshop even. In addition, it packs features like any commercial program such as: layers, bezier/spline curve drawing and unlimited undo history. On top of that is has many filters that handles everything from blurring/sharpening to color control. Paint.NET requires Microsoft .NET Framework 2.0 (which is free but can never be open source!!).
Download here

Adobe Dreamweaver ==> Kompozer

Kompozer is an open source web development tool built on NVU (another editor but currently not under development). The project strives to fix bugs in the NVU project and add new features to it. Offers WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editing mode, a CSS , HTML and all other regular features allowing you full control of layout as you work with your web design.
Download here

Adobe Flash ==> Synfig

Synfig is actually very powerful. You can do much more than you can do with flash. Synfig is an industrial-strength vector-based 2D animation software package, designed from the ground-up for producing “feature-film quality animation” with fewer people and resources – and its free. So now you can create all those animations that you always wanted to do.
Download Here

Adobe Illustrator ==> Inkscape

Inkscape is an open source 2d vector graphics editor and an excellent alternative to Adobe Illustrator. Supports all of the standard drawing features. Curves (bezier), lines, freehand drawing including calligraphy stroke together with geometric figures can be used to build your drawing. Advanced gradient fill tool, bitmap tracing – and will let you export your drawing as both png and postscript. All normal file handling is performed natively in scalable vector graphics (svg) file format.
Download here

Adobe InDesign ==> Scribus

Scribus is a popular open source desktop publishing tool. As a DTP tool it supports professional publishing features, such as CMYK color, separations, ICC color management and versatile PDF creation. Scribus also has additional features not normally found in a DTP tool such as vector drawing tools with SVG support and it even has support for OpenType Fonts. Scribus is available in more than 25 languages.
Download here

Adobe After Effects ==> Jahshaka (I love the name and the logo)

Jahshaka brings the power of movie editing and effects to the open source environment. Whether is comes to painting video, create and edit effects in real-time or perform advanced composition – Jahshaka lets you do it. You can even handle HD with ease.
Download here

Adobe Premier Pro ==> VirtualDub

VirtualDub is an open source video processor/editor. Its not for non-linear video editing, but it has powerful features for processing your video clips. The features include real-time downsizing, noise reduction, support for AVI2 (OpenDML), de- and re-compression of video and audio and an advanced set of filters. These filters include blurring, rotating, image adjustments and more. VirtualDub is a great video toolbox.
Download here

Adobe Encore DVD ==> DVD Styler

DVDStyler is simple and easy to use – it provides a quick and simple interface for adding DVD menus to your own movies. Adding movie clips is as easy as drag and drop. Menu screens are created by first loading a background – and then adding buttons. Then actions are assigned to the buttons to indicate which movie clips should be played when pressed.
Download Here

Adobe Soundbooth ==> Audacity ?

Now I am no sound expert, I have installed and used both soundbooth and Audacity and for me Audacity is just fine, although I must say that Soundbooth looks way more complicated and (sssshhh.. does that mean it does more work also?), but frankly speaking for the general user’s needs Audacity is more than enough. I can’t say for Sound Experts here. May be you can enlighten us on this one?
Download Here

There you have it. A Creative Suite Replacement. As a signing off note I would also like to mention Ubuntu Studio here. Yes yes, I know its Linux but then it comes with many of the above preinstalled (and others not mentioned here) and you can add even more, plus it has beautiful theming to give the Studio Look. You could perhaps even run it inside Windows (through virtualization).

Do you agree with my choices? Or would you replace them with something else?

(By) – Varun Kashyap – A tech enthusiast, programmer and a blogger, who almost got mad testing all of the above for this post. Visit his Tech Crazy Blog

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49 Comments - Write a Comment


Travis Quinnelly

Nice list Varun. This will no doubt be a good one to bookmark!

Varun Kashyap

Thanks Travis!



I use
Foxit PDF Reader instead of Sumatra,
GIMP instead of Paint.NET,
PrimoPDF instead of PDFCreator.

Varun Kashyap

Good choices Haricharan, although I dont think Foxit or PrimoPDF are open source. And generally I find Paint.NET better than GIMP but its personal preference.



Hey great post… GIMP is really good instead of photoshop too…



Nice List. But my opinion differs on some points.

Photoshop Alternative : Gimp (the best and most loved image manipulation and drawing softwre out there; open source) –

Kompoer is a nice alternative to Dreamveaver, but to be true, its not as good as dreamveaver. I’ve used it myself, its nice, but not the best. You should try it out yourself though and not rely on my comments, maybe you’ll like it.

Synfig Studio – its not as good as Flash; Its better. Truly. Check out some synfig short animations from ( ). I’ve not seen anythong like that being made on flash. Synfig is better in its high, movie-quality animation rendering. Flash is better in being more easy to learn and being able to create games (along with animations).

Jahsaka – sounds like a nice software, but I still dont get what it does. I cannot try it myself due to some problems ( in my computer; or maybe in the software). Can I add explosions and UFOs in my videos ? Please explain in detail as to what can Jahsak do.

For all the other software listed in the post, I agree that they are very nice (though I haven’t tried all of them yet). To sum up, Its a great post.

Varun Kashyap

Jahshaka is used for adding effects kind of things to videos, like fire in some one’s eyes (its in the gallery) or add some other text or image overlays etc. And may be you can add explosions and UFOs who knows I am not too good in such kind of things, will try and let you know though!


I’d use vim instead of Kompozer or Dreamweaver. Down with wussywygs!




Excellent round-up Varun.

Varun Kashyap

Pleasure is mine



Nice list.. I had been searching for an alternative for Adobe Acrobat.. Thanks for telling about PDFCreator.

Going to download it now.




Good list of alternatives…Should be downloading the ones I dont have…


Ginny Le

Thanks so much for this list, very useful for me. I’ll try those software soon.


Syahid A.

Fantastic list. But I prefer Foxit than Sumatra. Dugg.


Varun Kashyap

Glad you all liked it!!



Paint.NET has a much better interface and is more organized than Gimp. Gimp does have more features though. Check the Paint.NET community for plugins. They are very helpful. They may even develop a plugin for you.



I tried this once. I think GIMP is better than and photoshop in some regards. However I did not think that the other freeware really offered much. I was very disappointed with ‘Scribus’. My goal was to go completely open source. Linux install, with all the various tools you show here. They work to some degree, but I found that they were very inferior to the Creative Suite.



What are some reasons to use an actual PDF creator, like PDFCreator, as opposed to using Open Office’s word program (write?) As it is now, there’s one less program installed, and also one less to learn — but, are we missing out on something incredibly cool we weren’t aware of?



Nice to see up there, it doesn’t get anywhere near the exposure it should, which is odd given that the project was mentoured by Microsoft! I personally never really got to grips with GIMP.

Quite a few pieces of software there that I have previously come across.

Good Post!



Edit typo above, should read, Quite a few pieces of software there I HAVEN’T come across.


Tari Akpodiete

Nice list. Couple of suggestion: Paint.NET is a great choice, as it The Gimp mentioned by several people in the comments. If you’re used to Photoshop and want to give The Gimp a whirl, definitely download GimpShop – – a which will add a Photoshop-like interface (available for win, mac and linux). Besides Kompozer, there’s also the very popular – and related – NVU – – (available for win, mac and linux) you’ll even find them linked on the same page. And while VirtualDub is a great program, as you say, it’s not really for editing. If you need to do that sort of thing, then try out Avidemux – – which is available for various flavours of win, mac and linux.


Varun Kashyap

Yes I agree that GIMP and Paint.NET have their own set of advantages and disadvantages. GimpShop is an excellent mention have been using it for some time.


Jason Kintzler

Thanks for the list Varun interesting. I must say as a designer, Adobe programs are a necessity for anyone experienced in photo production or graphic design- the PC vs. Mac thing, now that’s debatable.



which one of these can I use to edit EPS or PSD files?

Varun Kashyap

You will have to install plugins for PAINT.NET to open these files



Nice list Varun, and I have been trying to go completely open source for quite a while.. I read the earlier post also with great glee but I had known most of the stuff…

My two cents ….
1. I use Outlook 2007.. I have used Thunderbird for quite a while.. TB has a simple interface and does a great job with showing emails and good granular configurations.. Used it for over a year and half with Lighning.. My take.. Outlook does “my” requirements better.. The planner facilities of Outlook with seamless integration of email,calendar and contacts is truly wonderful.. Something is lacking in TB that the ease is not there beyond just emailing and just calendaring..We use Zimbra email …

2. PDF writer.. I agree that PDF Creator is an awesome product.. I have loved it and adopted it since I discovered it 2 years ago… I have deleted all the acrobat crap from my sys.. ver8 of the reader literally killed my machine with its load… Foxit is fantastic reader thgh not open source.. It has the ability of text viewer which literally bypasses the copy controls !!! Try reading knowledgestorm documents to understand what I mean.

3. While Foxit and PDF creator does a neat job with the spooling and viewing, a good pdf editor is still missing.. I use Foxit Editor / Nitro ( Commercialware).. do chip in if u know of a good OS editor I can substitute with.



Mike B

This list is interesting, and if you were going to buy Creative Suite to do a little design work here and there for yourself and/or for fun then its an excellent list.

However, if you plan on doing design professionally, there is no way you can survive with Gimp, Scribus or Inkscape. They just aren’t up to the task of full time professional work (believe me I’ve tried … and as Creative Director of a small publishing company I get paid better when I can save the company money.)


Glad I read this comment. I’m in the process of returning to graphic design professionally in my twilight years and have Quark 4.1, photoshop etc and distiller 5. Will have to update and as such have been doing research on Adobe Creative Suite or Quark.
Now I know which to get.



Virtualdub? Seriously? There is no comparison of virtualdub and premiere.



What about the “important” tools that are part of Adobe CS? Working in the statements/inserts industry, we are constantly using Distiller (for converting PS 2 PDF), and the Adobe hooks into M$ Office (Save as PDF, etc) to create PDFs from Word/Excel/Acsess/etc.

Yes, there is a freeware (maybe opensource) distiller named “FREEDIST”, which does great on PS2PDF conversions.

Other than that, this was a great article.

Thank you.


Mgssy orr gimp aren`t nearly as good as Photoshop imo



The alternatives might be ok for people without money, but most (if not all) of them don’t hold a candle to the real thing.



As a graphic artist for a church and for my own living, I can say that Gimp is great! The only problem I’ve had with it is the fact that it doesn’t have a cmyk profile. You can change the dpi to 300, but can’t change the color profile. I still like Gimp over photoshop and I own both. I also like the fact that Gimp can save as a photoshop file! That is awesome!

As a mac user (imac, 2gb memory, 250 gb hard drive) I can say that inkscape does not work! I’ve downloaded it seven times trying to use it instead of illustrator and no dice!

Kompozer is a viable alternative to Dreamweaver, but does not do everything that Dreamweaver does.

I use Gimp everyday for graphics and print material. If you are not able to afford Illustrator or Photoshop, then use Gimp! I’ve printed business cards, flyers, album covers, and wonderful handouts and never had a problem. The one it is lacking (besides a cmyk profiler) is crop marks!!



This is what I always wanted but never had :)
Thanks!!! great article!!



These substitutes are free and useful for general tasks but mostly not suffice for professionals (Adobe Acrobat is not just a printer driver, Premier Pro is not an avi editor)
Anyway I think Adobe Creative Suite is integrated (overbloated?) for pros but still overpriced (in lack of real competition?).
A VW Golf is also a (German) car like an E class Mercedes, but far from the same category…



I can’t believe you chose Paint.NET over Gimp!? Gimp is completely open source and available on almost every platform. Plus it is highly extensible and can open PSDs among a hundred other formats. Shame on you.

Inkscape and Scribus rock.

I prefer Eclipse PDT 2.0 for my html editing. Kompozer screws up the internal markup to its demise. Eclipse has tons of plugins and comes ready to handle most every web format out there.



you’re kidding, right man?
Adobe Premier Pro ==> VirtualDub ???????
Adobe After Effects ==> Jahshaka????
haha, have you ever used some adobe sw??



Great list, thank you from a Linux newbie who happens to be a Mac/PC audio veteran. To answer your last question, Adobe Soundbooth is not geared for audio professionals but webmasters, video enthusiasts and such occasional audio users. Thus, matching it with Audacity should be okay. An audio pro will likely edit his tracks in Logic Pro, Cubase, Ableton or BIAS Peak, etc. for which the closest Linux match could be Rosegarden with a bunch of JACK, DSSI and LADSPA extensions.



If these companies really want to make a dent in adobe they need to:
1. be able to import adobe files
2. incorporate some of the best extensions into their main releases
I love, but I’d rather have photoshop because there’s more in there to start and I don’t have to look around as much… I will, but I don’t want to.

Also what’s with the these companies not having linux versions?



Oh yeah also foxit reader is better than adobe imo


Rajesh Kanuri

hey thanks for the alternatives..



@Varun- re: Synfig- You can do much more than you can do with flash

Seriously? Have you developed in both? Actionscript, the programming language behind Flash, is capable of so much I can’t even begin to sum it up in a little blog comment. Can Synfig stream media like videos? Can it parse XML? Can it interact with scripting languages like JavaScript or PHP? Can it POST and GET variables? Detect browsers? etc., etc. From video players, to interactive web features found on sites like NYTimes, Flash is hands down superior to Synfig. Does Synfig even support user interaction? Sounds like Synfig would be better compared against something like Maya.

As for your other CS substitutes… I have my doubts. Audacity is nice for basic stuff, and I’m guessing that most of them are at best very limited alternatives to the real thing.

I’m all about free and open source alternatives, but there’s a tremendous difference between a Kia and a Ferrari… same holds true here. If you want to be a developer and compete in the market… you need first class equipment. This is a reference list for hobbyists and beginners. Anyone that wants to take things to the next level will definitely need more powerful apps., though.



I’m all for open source, alternative to commercial or bloatware apps. Firefox, Thunderbird, Burn, etc are worthy alternatives to consider. But time = money and if you’re billing your time out to do professional design work, I can’t rationalize using many, esp Scribus over InDesign, as a productivity (aka savings) tool. There’s a reason applications, like cars, houses, etc have different price points. You usually get what you pay for.



Great idea, and great list.
90% of the comments posted are also sane and useful….quite a pleasant change from the 10% encountered on most sites. Makeuseof seems to attract a more thoughtful crowd….



Thanks so very much for this info. I am a computer novice except to know that I am tired of ADOBE downloads, bloated programs & memory hogging! I checked w/ 3-4 computer guru sources as to alternatives to use to Acrobat & Reader & also asked them the difference in the 2 programs… one knew or took the time to help me out – so thanks! I bookmarked your info & emailed it to 3 others.



well a very well done list..but I love Adobe Flash and guess nothing can replace it..!!..Thanks..!



great post, thanks for sharing



I totally turned my back on Adobe, Macromedia and I’m about to get free from Microsoft by installing Ubuntu in my laptop. Thanks so much for you precious help.


Tech Maish

Foxit Reader is perfect one. I am using Foxit.
Thanks for sharing.

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