The Digital Agency for International Development

Digital Photography on Linux

By Chris Wilson on 02 September 2010

Many people think that digital photography on Linux is much harder than on Windows or Macintosh. This is a typical comment:

As a hobby I'm a photographer, so I do lots of graphic work as editing for invites, posters, mag covers etc. does any one know of a software that will be as great as photoshop for linux (Ubuntu), not Gimp, Gimp is very limited. I tried using WINE but it doesnt work well, very slow.

It was true for a long time that working with digital photos on Linux was difficult. The main problem was that the most popular software that users are familiar with, Photoshop and Lightroom, is simply not available for Linux (due to unfortunate business decisions by Adobe).

There have been open source alternatives to Photoshop for a while, notably Gimp, but Gimp is difficult to use and the interface is quite annoying:

I'd say the major limiting factor is the desire to slit your wrists while arguing with the unwieldy interface layout.

Luckily today I came across (thanks to Alastair Otter of GLUG) this excellent article:

Photography with Open Source / Linux

This includes detailed descriptions of the many applications available, most of which I hadn't heard of before, and look forward to trying. I've been particularly impressed by Adobe Lightroom's ease of use and powerful histogram correction features, and I was considering buying a copy even though it doesn't run on Linux, but I will definitely try Darktable now.

For users who really, really have to have a Photoshop user interface, GimpShop may help.

And before you say "this is not work related", I've often needed to edit photographs to prepare brochures, promotional materials and for website work :-)

It seems that digital photography on Linux has made excellent progress in the last year, and I'm very happy to see it.