Printing Labels and Business Cards in Ubuntu

By | 2009/06/11

Recently a friend of mine was talking about starting his own consulting business and it got me thinking about how viable it might be to completely run a small business on free software like Ubuntu. I mean completely run your business on free software, down to the last detail. I don’t mean mostly, but 100% create, manage and run your small business using free software. That got me thinking about what is required to get a small business off the ground, which quickly led to marketing materials. Business cards. Labels. Letterhead. The things you just assume you’d have as a small business, but don’t really think about creating until you’re in the situation.

While I was thinking about this I came across an application that looks like it’d fit this need perfectly. It’s called gLabels, and is designed specifically for creating labels and business cards in the GNOME desktop environment.  From the website:

gLabels is a program for creating labels and business cards for the GNOME desktop environment. It is designed to work with various laser/ink-jet peel-off label and business card sheets that you’ll find at most office supply stores. gLabels is free software and is distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License (GPL).

Sweet! Looks like that’d fit the bill perfectly, and it is available in the Ubuntu repositories! To install, enter the command (or click on the link):

sudo aptitude install glabels

Once you’ve got it installed it really looks like a breeze to use as well! I also found a site that has a good, more in-depth tutorial on getting started with it. Printing Labels in Ubuntu outlines some basic usage of gLabels, including screenshots. Worth checking out.

While I was at that link I also found a really detailed tutorial on creating quality business cards using Inkscape, another application available in the Ubuntu repositories. Ubuntu wins again for application availability! If you have never used Inkscape before it really is worth checking out. It can be installed using:

sudo aptitude install inkscape

Inkscape is a great tool for creating business cards, letterhead, etc. It’s great for all kinds of detailed graphic design while on Linux. Again I’ll refer you to the Business Card Tutorial using Inkscape for a great writeup of how to do business cards.

In conclusion, I have to admit that Ubuntu appears to have just the right tools to get a small business going. Business Cards. Labels. Letterhead. The best part about the whole thing is that none of these applications adds any additional cost to the difficulty of starting a small business. You’ve got to love “Free as in Beer”.

13 thoughts on “Printing Labels and Business Cards in Ubuntu

  1. Lane

    Those business card utilities are nice, I guess, but I've done business cards with OpenOffice for a long time. You just select the Avery number of the business card sheets, and the layout is created for you.


  2. dflock

    I run my small business ( entirely in Linux and have done (almost) from the very start. This includes invoices done in open office, composited onto pdf stationary with pdftk, business cards, logos & branding done in Inkscape etc… I don't really print much stuff out – I generally print to PDF and email these and I got my business cards printed commercially (… I initially designed the business cards & logo in Xara on Windows but I've since ported all that to Inkscape without problems. I've found the whole 'running-you-biz-on-linux' thing a complete non-issue really, it's all just worked great and provided me with more options than I would have had on Windows, I think, on the whole.


  3. Nigel

    For accounting software in the UK you may wish to look at Business Accountz (java based) or KashFlow (web based)

  4. Nigel

    For accounting software in the UK you may wish to look at Business Accountz (java based) or KashFlow (web based)
    Sorry, forgot to add great post! Can’t wait to see your next post!

  5. Yorokobi

    Okay, what about free software for invoicing, payroll, accounts payable, accounts receivable? Product cataloging software? UPC printing? 🙂

  6. rtalcott

    I have a strong interest in this also and may soon have the opportunity to bring up what could become a substantial manufacturing operation using Open Source….that is IF it can be made to work without too much pain. The office side seems to be no problem….but network based process control systems not so easy…and of course the entire ERP thing…probably can be done wit some effort and is probably worth the effort..

  7. EPM

    For ERP, try Compiere or OpenBravo.
    Taking PCS open source all the way is ballsy. May be low cost up-front, but high risk and I expect will a sink for time. If you are still keen, have a look at ProView ( There are others too, like PVbrowser (SCADA) if you don't need a dedicated controller and intend to just layer OSS on top of traditional PLCs.

  8. Scunizi

    I've been running my business as a Realtor with Ubuntu for 3 years. Glabels is a great app but recently found an aggravating quirk. I printed 1,000 labels for a full bleed postcard I designed in Scribus (really good for print ready material including business cards) and found that the letter "U" or "u" would not print on the labels. I'm not sure if that was the fault of a font selection or not. I haven't had time to investigate it much. I say this only as a warning to proof read by printing to a pdf first prior to commiting your work on paper. Unfortunately in my business, I can't get 100% away from windows or at least one of their apps…. Internet Explorer. A lot of RE sites require IE to function and no emulation tricks with FF or others will work. In this case, Virtualbox or VMWare rules.

  9. smith_9000

    A great Open Source solution for a manufacturing business is the PostBooks edition of xTuple ( If more functionality is needed xTuple offers two pay-for editions with more features. xTuple will also support PostBooks on an hourly basis so the risk is nil.

  10. Roger Nutbeam

    For an ERP that is way easier to setup and requires far less computing resources that Compiere and it's offshoots is OpenERP (formerly TinyERP). You can buy a user manual from Amazon even, if so inclined not to use the online documentation.I've implemented it at a manufacturer of electronic assemblies and it works very well. Integrated CRM and SRM. Long list of additional modules. 100% open source GPL licensed. Written in python and well documented. Much easier to customize and add on to, that a Java based ERP. Report writer is an addon extension for OpenOffice. Flexible for either retail, manufacturing or service based industries. Their PCB design is done in Eagle Professional in Linux. Mechanical CAD in VariCAD in Linux. Office stuff done with glabels, openoffice, rekall or OOBase for Access equivalent. Specialist forms (mass printing) done with python and reportlab. Database backend used is Postgresql. Thin clients (ltsp project) and linux pcs for desktop users. We've been using kde on the desktop and with thin clients since 2004. Some of the manufacturing equipment has to use Windows. The main surface mount machine actually runs linux though 🙂

  11. Thomas

    I like the idea. I already tell people that I do everything I did with windows with open source now. I want to start my own business sometime. It would be nice to keep with open source for that as well.

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