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Multibeam satellite systems have been employed to provide interactive broadband services to geographical areas under-served by terrestrial infrastructure. In this context, this paper studies joint multiuser linear precoding design in the forward link of fixed multibeam satellite systems. We provide a generic optimization framework for linear precoding design to handle any objective functions of data rate with general linear and nonlinear power constraints. To achieve this, an iterative algorithm which optimizes the precoding vectors and power allocation alternatingly is proposed and most importantly, the proposed algorithm is proved to always converge. The proposed optimization algorithm is also applicable to nonlinear dirty paper coding. As a special case, a more efficient algorithm is devised to find the optimal solution to the problem of maximizing the proportional fairness among served users. In addition, the aforementioned problems and algorithms are extended to the case that each terminal has multiple co-polarization or dual-polarization antennas. Simulation results demonstrate substantial performance improvement of the proposed schemes over conventional multibeam satellite systems, zero-forcing and regularized zero-forcing precoding schemes in terms of meeting the traffic demand, e.g., using real beam patterns, over twice higher throughput can be achieved compared with the conventional scheme. The performance of the proposed linear precoding scheme is also shown to be very close to the dirty paper coding.