Despite occasional oddities and a distinct lack of polish, Scribus offers up an open-source freeware desktop publisher robust with a full complement of useful features. Available for Windows, in a portable edition, and for Macs, too, they compare very favorably against more expensive competition.

The detailed Web site includes a wealth of documentation, tutorials, and notes on everything from installation problems to drawing a grid to creating a text frame. As with other similar open-source apps like Blender, the online resources for Scribus are nothing less than invaluable. The interface doesn't sing, but it does hit all the right notes: Buttons are laid out logically and grouped according to function, without any unusual placement.

Scribus' quirks are mostly related to the scaling of imported images, but there's something else about it that's far more interesting: It painlessly brings in documents from the suite and it uses The GIMP for image editing. By taking advantage of these other freeware apps to boost its own productivity, Scribus enhances its appeal by forming a virtual freeware suite.