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Review: CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite for Linux - page 3

Obtaining CorelDraw 9 Graphics Suite

  • November 1, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

CorelDRAW is a vector illustration program. As far as we're concerned, it's the basis for any value interested users will assign to the suite. Photo-PAINT is a nice piece of software, but we don't believe it offers enough over the GIMP to warrant half of the suite's $200 pricetag. Since they're giving it away for free, we doubt Corel does, either.

CorelDRAW, though, is a horse of another color. It offers a wide array of features, both in the design and reproduction phases that place it well above any of its competitors in the Linux scene.

In addition to the basic vector-editing tools it provides, there are facilities for manipulating bitmap images, scanner support (we didn't have a scanner to test this, and noticed that the documentation for this feature was missing), and spelling/grammar checkers. CorelDRAW also has support for the PANTONE Matching System, and includes six PANTONE palletes. CorelDRAW has excellent output support, featuring the ability to export work to Encapsulated PostScript (EPS) files, PDF, MacroMedia Flash, and HTML.

We tested PDF and HTML output on a simple illustration, and were pleased with the results. CorelDRAW has brought professional PDF-authoring tools to the Linux desktop, allowing users to include hyperlinks, embed fonts, and save their preferences to a series of presets that make preparation of PDF's across a variety of media much easier. The HTML output was also good, providing helpful information on issues our simple illustration presented.

In our opinion, there simply isn't a single illustration tool in the Linux world that comes near what Corel has provided with CorelDRAW. There may be better packages overall, but Linux doesn't have them, and this does nothing but make Linux a more attractive proposition for businesses in need of some good-quality software and the much more reasonable pricepoint Linux brings to the table overall.

Common Flaws

When we last looked at CorelDRAW, we weren't certain what to make of the suite's overall polish and performance. The software we had was a beta release, and though the machine we used at the time was well within the specifications presented by Corel, we couldn't shake the sense that the software was just too unresponsive. This time around, we brought a 650 Mhz Duron with 160 MB RAM to the party, armed with the knowledge that the release we had was final.

The sense of sluggishness remains, and we believe that can be attributed to the fact that Corel has chosen to build their applications on WINE to ease the porting process. There's clearly a performance penalty involved here, and it also introduces some additional problems. WINE, for instance, doesn't like certain focus schemes your window manager may allow and plays havoc with some menus as a result. Sometimes buttons aren't very responsive, causing the program to hang for up to five seconds while it decides to honor a click. After an hour of use, this becomes frustrating.

Despite the crankiness of the interface mechanisms, though, we had no stability problems to speak of with the software, which did much better than Corel's other WINE-based offering: WordPerfect Office 2000.

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