Inkscape is a mature SVG vector graphics editor. You can run it on a number of platforms including GNU/Linux and Windows. It has a rich set of features and is popular and actively maintained. The Book of Inkscape: the definitive guide to the free graphics editor, by Dmitry Kirsanov is a comprehensive guide of 476 pages that describes in detail the various parts of the software. The book also includes six chapter-size tutorials that emphasis the manipulative power of this feature rich editor.
Inkscape is my vector graphics application of choice. It can do a wide variety of vector drawing tasks with relatively little effort. It uses the now-standard SVG vector format as its native format, and it has become very extensible through a simple "stream-based", language-agnostic scripting system. On modern systems, it is reasonably responsive (though not the fastest), and the interface layout is well-balanced and fairly intuitive.
Just as there are "classic" cars that never seem to go out of style, there are some classic pieces of software that remain useful long after most of their contemporaries. One of those programs is Xfig, a vector graphics editor hailing from the days of academic Unix workstations. Like the more famous TeX, Xfig hasn't seen significant updates in several years—and for the same reason: it's just about perfect like it is. It is showing its age in the style of its graphical interface, and it does have some fundamental limitations compared to more modern graphics tools, but for the simple technical diagrams it was intended for, it is still hard to beat.
In the dawn of modern computing, there was only text. And the text was good. You can do a lot with text: write equations or sonnets, describe intricate computer subsystems or a fine spring day. But people are visual as well as verbal creatures, and there is simply no substitute for graphical communications.
Inkscape is one of the most popular free software vector drawing applications. With minimal effort you can achieve some excellent results. However, for the inexperienced it can be a bit hard to find out how to get those results. In this tutorial I'll look at creating a simple ribbon effect which will hopefully introduce some of the key Inkscape features along the way.