Linux for Photography

Image editing: GIMP

Within 3 years, we have seen Shotwell coming out of nowhere, Rawstudio releasing a major new version (with an complete architectural revamp). When it comes to image editing, however, the situation hasn't changed much  - like it or not, the GIMP it is, as Photoshop is not currently available for Linux. I actually rediscovered an article from septembre 2009 on GIMP: GIMP 2.8 in a single window? and guess what? 2012 should see the release of GIMP 2.8 with a single window interface:

GIMP 2.8 preview
(Click to enlarge)

A bit more than a year ago, Alexandre Prokoudine made the world aware that GIMP is a 2.5 partime developers project - and the situation isn't different today.

So here is what we are at: GIMP 2.8 will indeed bring a single window interface. Generally speaking, GIMP's UI is being looked after and this work is starting to bear fruits (better dockable dialogs management, shape selections are shaping up nicely). What is still dearly missing is high bitdepth support, until then GIMP is (almost) useless for high quality photographic work. Now this goodness (high bitdepth, non-desctructive editing) will be added when GIMP starts using GEGL (its next generation image processing library) more extensively. According to the tentative roadmap, GIMP 2.10 will focus on cleanups, while GIMP 3.0 should offer GTK3 integration and... high bitdepth. And the release cycles should be shorter :)

Now it would be easy to just scream at and burden GIMP developpers even more. Not a good idea. But still, with "the lack of photoshop equivalent on Linux" being among the top complaints when it comes to desktop open source, it is amazing (and saddening) that nobody has been able to help / fund / do something to speed GIMP development. Not that people didn't try, though.

There aren't real alternatives either: Krita is now clearly a painting program. Cinepaint, based on an old fork of GIMP offers indeed a high bitdepth imaging engine, but the project is mostly dormant - despite its recent bump to 1.0.

So with GIMP we are stuck. Not that it is a bad program, mind you. Just that it lacks the resources to (quickly) become the great one it could be.


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