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06-15-2007, 01:37 AM   #1
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Linux photo workstation -- Report

Alright, calling my Linux machine a "workstation" is a bit of a stretch, since it's my general purpose desktop with functions ranging from watching movies, web-serving and last but not least, and certainly the most relevant to this forum, Image processing.

I'm not a blind and rabid Microsoft/Windows hater, but I do hate non-efficient software and that's what, in my view, Windows is. Cutting a long story short, my recently upgraded machine to dualcore and 2GB RAM wasn't getting the most use out of Windows XP. Memory handling and SMP (multi-CPU) performance is simply miserable on that OS, so I waited for Vista. Vista is a huge disappointment for me. Bloat++

I went and invested in a Macbook Pro to be used as my work-only machine while the desktop got converted to Linux, all I needed from Windows was Photoshop and Lightroom anyway, and OS X gives me that. Alright, done with the background fill-in.

After testing for 3 months, I finally settled on Ubuntu Linux, I'm on 7.04 now and the OS is simply fantastic! It just works, and works very well at that. Blazing fast is my Athlon X2 4600+ now and the 2GB of RAM is handled very well indeed.

I use Bibble Pro 4.9.8 for RAW workflow and batch processing; even though I have Lightroom on the Mac, I still wanted a professional quality RAW workflow application for the Linux machine for processing images I shoot for myself and not work.

Screenshot for the screenshot junkies:



And when I need to do some re-touching type work or anything that bibble won't do, I use Cinepaint, a bit spartan in use, but very effective. Also found a Picasa type photo organizer in F-Spot Photo Manager, an excellent application.



I started a thread some months back asking about Linux and it's viability as a desktop OS for good image processing. While I think Linux still has ways to go before it can be a complete professional solution on it's own, in that regard; it has, however, come a LONG way since I last tried to switch over (a couple of years ago).

Besides image processing, other aspects are now very nice on a Linux desktop, the only place where it needs to improve is gaming, but I don't play games much anymore so that's not a concern for me.

Just wanted to share this with those that might be interested in Linux or are using it already.

side-note: I'm no stranger to Unix/Linux, been a FreeBSD fan since 1999, but FreeBSD is more a server than anything else so I stick to Linux on the desktop.

Cheers!
-Asad

06-15-2007, 05:36 AM   #2
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I also have Ubuntu on one of my dual boot machines (with XP-Pro) and I also like the low overhead and speed. The main frustration with Linux generally is the lack of applications and drivers - though it is improving.

My main PC runs Vista, which while severely bloated, allows me to use one OS for everything I need to do. Where photography is concerned that means being able to choose between any application (I use Bibble, CS3/Bridge, Fast Stone Image Viewer ++) without having to swap OSes.

It's good to see someone getting the most out of Linux and the improvements in its ability and Bibble is a great app.

I have to say that I make my living from looking after Windows machines so I am biased - or is that trapped....
06-15-2007, 12:32 PM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by chrisman Quote
I also have Ubuntu on one of my dual boot machines (with XP-Pro) and I also like the low overhead and speed. The main frustration with Linux generally is the lack of applications and drivers - though it is improving.

My main PC runs Vista, which while severely bloated, allows me to use one OS for everything I need to do. Where photography is concerned that means being able to choose between any application (I use Bibble, CS3/Bridge, Fast Stone Image Viewer ++) without having to swap OSes.

It's good to see someone getting the most out of Linux and the improvements in its ability and Bibble is a great app.

I have to say that I make my living from looking after Windows machines so I am biased - or is that trapped....
The driver and hardware support part has become very good I think. Just about every distribution seems to have a great LiveCD that will detect and use most of today's hardware. As for applications, that's where the problem is for migrants like me. I would never have been able to switched away from Windows had I not bought the Mac; main driving force being able to use apps that I need.

I think the main thing lacking for Linux, when it comes to being a good image editing workstation is the fact that there's no hardware monitor calibration tool available for Linux. With that essential little piece missing, pros from any aspect of the imaging industry will not look at Linux as a real alternative to Windows or OSX. When we have a hardware colour calibration tool, Adobe and the like will be more willing to consider making a version of their software available for Linux.

I think you're trapped more than biased, and it's completely understandable, can't do without essential apps.

Cheers,
-Asad
06-15-2007, 03:56 PM   #4
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Hi Asad

Thanks for the review. I have also been a linux user sine about 6~7 years ago however I do still run Windows on a separate machine at home because I couldn't find a good raw converter on linux. So can you please elaborate a little bit more on Bibble Pro? How easy was the installation and what about its performance on Linux? Do you need a separate license to install it on Windows machine or can you install on both machine with one license?

Thanks in advance!

Kenny

06-15-2007, 04:36 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by kjao Quote
Hi Asad

Thanks for the review. I have also been a linux user sine about 6~7 years ago however I do still run Windows on a separate machine at home because I couldn't find a good raw converter on linux. So can you please elaborate a little bit more on Bibble Pro? How easy was the installation and what about its performance on Linux? Do you need a separate license to install it on Windows machine or can you install on both machine with one license?

Thanks in advance!

Kenny
Hi Kenny,

Bibble Pro is very nice, and with each new version it gets better on Linux. Two versions ago it used to crash quite frequently, but now, maybe once a month? If that.

The installation was painless, I downloaded the .deb package and simply double clicked on it and a few seconds later it was installed and ready for use. If you use an RPM based distribution, they also have those packages available.

Performance is also very good, the Pro version comes with multi-cpu/core support. An example: I batch converted close to 400 DNG files from the K10D in about 18 minutes; I have an Athlon X2 4600+ (dual 2.4GHz) and 2GB RAM.

As for the license, you get a single serial key that you can use on Windows, Mac or Linux versions of Bibble. If you're dual-booting you can have bibble installed on both operating systems provided you use one at a time, can't have it *running* on two separate machines at the same time.

Cheers,
-Asad
06-16-2007, 05:06 AM   #6
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Thanks Asad, I was not aware of F-Spot's existence. I will give it a try.
06-16-2007, 06:27 AM   #7
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I refuse to go to Vista. I see myself running XP for a long time, then finally making the move to Linux and or Apple. Good post.
06-16-2007, 05:56 PM   #8
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The good news is color management is coming to the Linux platform:

Linux color management - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

I've been waiting anxiously for this. I went with the Spyder2 Express package last week because the hardware that comes with it *might* be supported. It looks like lprof supports the device which comes with the EyeOne which I understand is the same hardware that Spyder2 uses. No guarantees -- I had a budget of about $50 so I went with it over the Huey just in case...

Lprof on profiling monitors: Profile Monitor Tab Help

Also note if you want something that just works it probably isn't here yet:
QuoteQuote:
I hope anyone following this knows that at this point this code is still very immature and undergoing heavy development. It is currently missing features and likely has many bugs. It is also, as these thing go, rapidly improving with each CVS commit resulting in many improvements and bug fixes.



Last edited by cmv; 06-16-2007 at 06:07 PM.
06-16-2007, 07:21 PM   #9
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Another way to get a calibrated display under linux is to load the color profile (generated under windows) with xcalib. I do that on my laptop, and it works great.
06-16-2007, 08:05 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by kskjon Quote
Another way to get a calibrated display under linux is to load the color profile (generated under windows) with xcalib. I do that on my laptop, and it works great.
Does the profile include gamma settings? I'm curious how much tweaking is required doing this.
06-16-2007, 08:32 PM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by cmv Quote
I've been waiting anxiously for this. I went with the Spyder2 Express package last week because the hardware that comes with it *might* be supported. It looks like lprof supports the device which comes with the EyeOne which I understand is the same hardware that Spyder2 uses.
To my understanding the EyeOne 2 is not the same as Spyder 2. After having owned (well, still do) the Spyder (1 or the first original one) and the EyeOne 2 (which is the one I use), and having read several reviews I'm pretty sure they are not the same. My "knowledge" is a bit outdated since it's over a year ago I bought the EyeOne 2. There may have been company mergers and takeovers and such making things different now.
06-16-2007, 08:33 PM   #12
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It should handle gamma without problems.

All I do to use it is to put the .icc somewhere available, and add 'xcalib /path/to/profile.icc' to autostart. I use a Spyder2 to make a profile under windows (dual boot)

xcalib - AdobeGamma-Loader-like monitor calibration loader for Linux
06-17-2007, 06:30 AM   #13
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Specific Harware?

QuoteOriginally posted by Asad_Masede Quote
...my recently upgraded machine to dualcore and 2GB RAM ... -Asad
Asad, thanks for the excellent post. My experience with Linux dates back to the Mandrake 4.0 distro many moons ago, and I've found the key to success or failure in setting up a Linux box is carefully choosing supported hardware. Nothing derails a linux project faster than to find a hardware controller is not supported.

I see you're using a late version of Ubuntu. At the risk of going off topic, what specific hardware are you using for this box? Is it a store bought system or did you hand pick your parts? Specifically, what chipset is your system board running and what video card chipset? I may choose to build my box based on what parts you've had success with.


Regards,

germar
06-17-2007, 12:27 PM   #14
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LightZone

I just wanted to remind you all that LightZone (can I say "the revolutionary software tool for old-school photography lovers"?) is FREE under Linux.

For those who know nothing about Linux, I suggest you have someone install a Linux distibution to your present computer alongside your Windows and ask him/her to install LightZone there. You don't have to know anything about Linux to do this.
LightZone has no specific requirement from the distribution (a flavor of Linux) as it is Java-based.

You can share a drive/partition with Windows and store LightZone treated files there. This way you can also use your favorite Windows software as well.
Light Zone is the most intuitive photogaphy software I have come across until to date. (..and no, they don't pay me!)
06-17-2007, 12:46 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by Buddha Jones Quote
I refuse to go to Vista. I see myself running XP for a long time, then finally making the move to Linux and or Apple. Good post.
That's a very good plan, you'll find bliss with Linux and OSX. When they talk about spyware/viruses/malware/worms, 99.8% of it will not apply to you; Great performance and Unix power under the hood.

Cheers,
-Asad
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