During the release party for 1.3.3.10 Jean Ghali one of our quietest but steadiest developers (he’s slaughtered a mountain of bugs in 1.3.3.x), noticed that we were about to pass our millionth download on Sourceforge. Which got me thinking…

A million downloads for a project like Scribus. What is the significance ? What does that tell us ?

The technical part: Just shy of 20TB of data. Or looking at the rough averages currently, one person downloading a copy of Scribus every two minutes or so. Two years ago when we started hosting our downloads on Sourceforge we averaged 4.5Gb of data. Now we’re getting close to 2TB some months and the trend is steadily upward.

Moreover, those numbers are actually lower than reality when you consider it only counts downloads of Scribus after 1.2.something and we host a lot of binaries on the OpenSuse Build Server and we also have a separate Debian/Ubuntu repository. Lastly, almost every Linux distro includes Scribus by default.

So, where does that leave us ? What does it tell us ? The plain numbers are kind of dull and boring, but what it represents in the bigger scheme of things is that a complete and very healthy ecosystem has evolved in the area of Free and Open Source graphics applications. You can do serious professional grade publishing reliably using only open source tools.

When Scribus was started there was GIMP and a then sometimes rough on the edges Ghostscript, but not much else. No Inkscape, no Krita, no Fontforge, a dearth of decent professional grade fonts and very few which were really capable beyond Latin and CJK languages. Font managment plain sucked. Keith P. will go to heaven if only for making fontconfig and thus font installation sane on *nix. Early Scribus had all kinds of hacks and code just to find fonts, not any kind of sanity checking or other goodness we can now do with Freetype2.

Which leads us to today, where we can see GIMP getting GEGL and its long promised deep color spaces. Krita2 in a short few months will have a lot of goodness Scribus users will really groove on (and it might be really running stable on Windows.) Inkscape is making its first baby steps in adding color managment and they are really trying to make it work perfectly for Scribus downstream. Lprof, the color profile maker now is cross platform and is getting hardware support for pro grade colorometers.

Even better is the community of people who have emerged around Scribus and other FLOSS graphics apps. We have things like Fontmatrix which I ranted about earlier popping up out of nowhere to complete the scenery. LGM 1 and 2 were great and I fully expect LGM3 to meet or exceed them.

What that million means is are now enjoying what was just something we could only dream of when Scribus 0.2 (~ 150 downloads) was so modestly launched in 2001.