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Feature: MLUG Helps Fuji Introduce Linux to Commercial Printers, by Paul Tatham
Wednesday, April 25, 2001, 11:18 AM

On May 17, 2001, the Montreal Linux User Group will hold an evening seminar in collaboration with Fuji Graphic Systems Canada to introduce Linux to Montreal area printers and pre-press shops. A Fuji source indicated that many of their clients have shown keen interest in the platform and this seminar is being organized in response. Although Fuji has considerable UNIX expertise in-house, they have turned to MLUG for assistance in introducing GNU/Linux and the advantages of logiciel libre to their clients. MLUG members will present general information on Linux, the GPL and various applications such as Samba, Apache and Zope.

Fuji is a major, world-wide supplier of pre-press consumables such as film, plate and proofing products as well as scanners, imagesetters, film and plate processors and the like. In recent years, as the industry adopted digital technologies, Fuji evolved into a supply channel for numerous products including Apple workstations, Sun servers and several software solutions.

The pre-press and desktop publishing industries run primarily on Apple workstations. Most server functions were originally handled by Unix, but more recently some of these services have been ported to the lower-cost NT platform. In many instances this may have been a false economy due to technical issues related to the Windows OS. Pre-press shops typically run small networks that handle large amounts of data and often huge files. In practice, these shops must reboot their NT boxes on a daily basis to minimize, er, unscheduled shutdowns. They have been looking for alternative ways to provide some of these services that will improve reliability and availability.

Enter Linux. Several of the applications that were ported to NT have been restored to the Unix-style platform. By coming full circle with Linux they eliminate the technical problems that come with NT while enjoying an even lower cost.

Pre-press shops' interest may have been sparked by Linux and the opportunity to move away from NT, but there is a perception that Linux lacks specific applications for their industry. Fuji will allay some of these concerns on May 17th. One example is a digital proofing application called Black Magic from Serendipity Software. This package, although widely used on NT, is now available for linux.

There are several other industrial-strength applications now running on Linux that will be shown on May 17th. MLUG is helping Fuji to set up Linux boxes running packages for creation, scanning, imposition and poster production. All were previously available on NT and well known to the industry. They are production-grade, mature products that plug in to the desktop publishing or pre-press environments easily, making the migration to Linux straightforward.

This industry is a large market for Apple, and applications such as Photoshop and QuarkXpress are industry workhorses. This is not likely to change, nor does the industry see a compelling reason to do so. However, several ancillary areas of the workflow run on Unix and, more recently, on NT. Now there is an opportunity to upgrade many of the NT products to Linux versions. Fuji, with some assistance from MLUG, is helping its clients with the migration process and for this deserves the commendation and support of the community.

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