Introduction to Open Source Image Tools

May 2, 2011, By Christian Cawley

Whether you are moving to Ubuntu or just require an affordable (in this case free) alternative to Adobe Photoshop, you should be considering GIMP as your primary image editing tool

Short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP comes pre-installed with certain open source operating systems such as Ubuntu, and allows designed to help you crop images, resize and edit, convert between image formats and even create basic GIF animations.

Available for Windows and Mac as well, GIMP is most popularly used in Linux distros, and as such is one of the key aspects of our journey through the migration from the closed source, proprietary Windows to open source, open Linux.

Open source image tools

Open Source Image Editing

This article serves as little more than an introduction to using GIMP as an alternative to a proprietary application such as Photoshop: while there might be some useful things possible with GIMP that we feature at a later data, the sad truth remains that as good as GIMP is, it remains fixed in time like an open source mirror of Photoshop as that application was perhaps 10 years ago.

As powerful as GIMP is, be aware that it cannot match many of Photoshop’s current features.

If your Linux distro doesn’t have GIMP pre-installed, you will need to add it to your computer. In Ubuntu (the Linux open source alternative operating system that we are using in this series) go to System > Administration > Synaptic Package Manager and use the search tool to find “gimp”. In the results, check the first box to Mark for installation and agree to all related elements that Synaptic tells you need to be added. Click Apply to begin the update, and Apply to confirm what will be downloaded.

It shouldn’t take long for GIMP to be downloaded and installed (depending upon your Internet connection speed of course) and you will then be able to take advantage of image editing, processing and format conversions.

Note that you can also find GIMP via the Ubuntu Software Center by searching for “paint”. Adding software this way is simple – simply search for the application, select it and click Install. You will also be able to find out more details about the application in question using the Ubuntu Software Center, so this method of software installation (restricted to apps suitable for Ubuntu) is worth using.

Alternative Open Source Image Manipulation Solutions

If GIMP isn’t too your tastes or you want something that is a bit less complicated, there are other very good open source alternatives that might suit your needs.

One particularly good choice is Pinta, also available via Synaptic Package Manager. Pinta is GDK based and offers various drawing tools and brushes, the ability to add layers and various editing options.

Meanwhile the Ubuntu Software Center (Applications menu) lists GNU Paint, a sort of Linux version of Microsoft Paint with some extra features. You might also choose XPaint, also via the Ubuntu Software Center.

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