Introduction to open-source hosting with MacStadium 

MacStadium’s Free and Open-Source Software (FOSS) program provides free access to a Mac mini hosted in one of our US or European data centers for the development and hosting of open-source projects. We currently sponsor over 100 projects, including Inkscape, enabling continued support for open-source software in the Apple ecosystem 

What is Inkscape? 

One vector-image tool to rule them all. Unleash your creative side with Inkscape! 

Inkscape is a free and open-source vector graphics editor for macOS, Linux, and Windows. From artistic creations to technical illustrations, Inkscape is your go-to solution for cartoons, clip art, logos, typography, diagramming, flowcharting, and more. Think of it as a free alternative to Adobe Illustrator or Affinity Designer.

Inkscape interface on Mac

Inkscape’s journey began over 20 years ago in 2003 as a fork of Sodipodi. The founding Inkscape developers from Sodipodi were Bryce Harrington, MenTaLguY, Nathan Hurst, and Ted Gould. Their main focus was improving compliance with the Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) standard, as well as a more user-friendly interface, in-line with GNOME Human Interface Guidelines. After the fork, the Inkscape project released several updates, including codebase improvements and new features. In 2005, the project added builds for Mac OS X, enabling Mac users to use it alongside GNU/Linux and Windows users. In 2020, further improvements were made to macOS support, better utilizing macOS’s native UI, and removing the requirement for XQuartz. 

Today, Inkscape is making even more exciting changes, specifically Inkscape for macOS. The team is currently migrating to GTK 4, which will give all Inkscape widgets, buttons, dialogs, and more a huge increase in speed. This will also help lay the foundation for canvas rendering in the future.  

What makes Inkscape unique? 

Inkscape is all about native scalable vector graphics. Because of this, users can create sharp printouts and renderings at unlimited resolution. These vector graphics are not bound to a fixed number of pixels like raster graphics. Prioritizing SVGs allows Inkscape to provide an open standard for users, making it a platform that is not only user-friendly, but developer-friendly as well. Inkscape explains more about why SVG is beneficial if you want to read the details.  

Inkscape also supports several file formats, including SVG, AI, EPS, PDF, PS and PNG. Between the extensive list of features to customizable options with add-ons, Inkscape offers a simple interface that is easy to navigate and design on. Want to see the full capabilities of Inkscape? Check out their extensive list of features.

Diagram on Inkscape on Mac

Since Inkscape is open-source, the team does not depend on big well-known package managers or software repositories – they build everything themselves using GNOME’s JHBuild - which allows the Inkscape team to have full control over the library versions and custom patches. They quickly realized that build times of over an hour per job were not acceptable for CI, and quickly became costly for other platforms. The Inkscape team solved this issue by building all the dependencies separately and packaging them, so the CI job only needed to build Inkscape itself. The results were incredible, reducing build times significantly. The macOS jobs running on MacStadium are now the fastest CI jobs, taking around 4-5 minutes from source to a downloadable Inkscape.dmg artifact on Apple Silicon. 

How Inkscape uses MacStadium for open-source hosting 

Open-source hosting solutions like MacStadium help platforms like Inkscape have a clean slate for building and testing code. 

Inkscape uses a MacStadium M1 Mac mini as a self-hosted GitLab runner in addition to their own Intel-based runner, so that the team can have native CI on both architectures. In addition to supporting Inkscape, the MacStadium-hosted Mac mini supports CI builds for several other GTK-based applications.

Inkscape quote about MacStadium

“There are a couple advantages of having your own custom [MacStadium] runner,” says René de Hesselle, Developer for Inkscape. “The most important one to me is having a clean machine. While both GitLab and GitHub provide macOS CI, their environments are always tainted, i.e. they have software pre-installed in standard system locations, which leads to problems when you're building everything yourself.” 

One of the other benefits is the improvements to the software lifecycle. “I get to decide how long I want stay with a certain version of Xcode or macOS, and I want to use older and matured releases since I do not need bleeding edge frameworks or functionalities,” says René. “Debugging tricky build failures is easier as I can ssh into the machine.” 

Where to download Inkscape 

Ready to ‘Draw Freely’ with Inkscape? 

You can get Inkscape instantly on macOS, Windows, and Linux devices. 

Want to see the details?  

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