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First look: Xara Xtreme LX

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Xara Xtreme LX (Xara LX), the port of Xara's flagship graphics program released under the GNU General Public License, has been developing rapidly since the first code was released in March. The patches have been coming so quickly that any review promised to be obsolete before it was published. That is still true, but, with version 0.5 being treated as a milestone by the company, the time for a first look has finally arrived. Those familiar with the Windows version of Xara Xtreme will know what to expect. Those new to the program will find a highly contextual interface and precision tools that are quick to learn and easy to use, and marred only by the absence of a few key features and extras.

Xara Xtreme has been critically acclaimed on the Windows platform for years. Although primarily a scaleable vector graphics (SVG) program, competing against such products as Adobe Illustrator, Macromedia FreeHand, and CorelDraw, it also includes enough features to be an alternative to raster graphics programs such as Adobe Photoshop, especially for the budget-minded. As explained in an earlier Newsforge article, the development of Xara LX is a bold gamble by the company to expand its base of programmers and to develop the GNU/Linux market ahead of its rivals.

Xara LX is available for download in three formats: as a binary in a tar file, as source code, and as an Autopackage archive. Because the program uses wxWidgets rather than Qt or GTK, and has several other dependencies, the Autopackage archive is by far the easiest choice to use. Besides automatically installing the dependencies, Autopackage gives you the option of installing for a single user only, which sidesteps the possibility of any system-wide problems that might arise from unstable software.

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