Admittedly, I haven’t used Microsoft Publisher or any legitimately comparable programs since I was in my twenties. For graphic design on the website and what little print needed over the past few years, we all rely almost entirely on Gravit Designer. However, I know that millions of users have used Microsoft Publisher for a couple of decades and there is something to be said about using a product that you’re familiar with when you take on a new project. That said, we received an inquiry on Twitter asking for a good Chrome OS alternative to MS Publisher. So, I’ve rounded up what I think are three great options. Each has its own strengths and which one works for you depends mostly on your use case and personal preference.
For Chromebook users, online web solutions are often the first place we look. With that in mind, the first option is accessible via the web but it may not be the best option for the casual user that just needs to make a quick flyer or poster for your kid’s soccer team.
Lucid Press is the industry standard when we’re talking about web-based graphic design and publication. The platform offers real-time collaboration for teams and the UI features a powerful drag and drop editor that’s intuitive and very user-friendly. There’s probably very little you won’t be able to do with Lucid Press but to access all of the robust features, you will have to pay. The free tier limits you to three documents and only three pages per document. For unlimited documents and access to premium templates, you’ll have to upgrade to the Pro tier at $10/month.
For those not wanting to subscribe to a monthly service, you still have options. If you have a Chromebook that supports Linux applications, two of the best open-source products on the market are available via the Debian repository and ready to install on your device. If it’s your first time using Linux on Chrome OS, check out this article on how to get everything set up and running. Don’t worry. It’s super easy and only takes a few minutes. Ready? Great, let’s go.
One of the oldest and most well-known MS Office alternatives, LibreOffice is used by Linux distros far and wide. The software suite features alternatives for most Microsoft Office applications and Draw by LibreOffice is a suitable choice if you’re looking to replace MS Publisher with an installable solution that has great support and an awesome community. The current version of LibreOffice in Debian 10 is version 6.1.5 which is new enough to give you all of the features you need and Draw will be included in your installation. To install LibreOffice, open your Linux terminal, paste or type
sudo apt install libreoffice and hit enter. If you decide you’d prefer the latest build, you can find the steps to install the newest version of LibreOffice here.
Sribus has been described as “the gold standard” of open-source desktop publishing and while I hadn’t used it until today, I have been reading a lot of reviews that agree it’s the way to go. Scribus, like LibreOffice, is available directly from the Debian repository and you can install it with one command in the Linux terminal. The interface looks very much like any older Windows application and it gives users a variety of pre-built template to build projects. Navigating is relatively simple and there are plenty of fine tuning controls for those more adept at using publishing software such as MS Publisher. My only nit with Sribus is the fact that the projects website hasn’t announced any updates since August of last year. Granted, it’s open-source and free but the lack of ongoing development makes it seem that Scribus may not be a long-term solution for Chrome OS users in it for the long haul. Thankfully, web solutions are getting better and better every day. To install Scribus, you can paste or type the command sudo apt install scribus into your Linux terminal and hit enter. The app icon should show up in your app launcher when the installation is complete.
With the Linux solutions above, or any Linux application, you will need to set up your printer with to work with the Linux container. The container inherits network access from Chrome OS but it lacks the necessary bits and pieces to automatically set up a printer. No worries. Setting up your home or office network printer is quite simple. You can find those steps here. It only takes a few minutes and it’s ironically easier than setting up some printers with a Chromebook. Is there a publisher app you prefer? Drop a comment below and we’ll see if it’s available for Chrome OS.