It’s hard to justify paying for photo-editing software if you’re not a professional photographer, designer, or artist. Fortunately, there are a ton of capable, free alternatives. The list includes age-old standbys like GIMP along with relative newcomers like PicMonkey and Autodesk’s Pixlr.
Future Ubunu installations will no longer include GIMP, starting with version 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), it was announced during the Ubuntu Developer Summit.
According to those in attendance, the decision to kick GIMP to the curb was based on a variety of factors. One of the primary reasons was a feeling that the general user just doesn't use GIMP. The general consensus is that the photo editing software is too complex and better aimed at professionals. Developers also took issue with the amount of disc space GIMP takes up.
While controversial, the decision to remove GIMP from Ubuntu is viewed as an important one in promoting the OS as a mainstream option. And GIMP's developers seem to agree.
"That is pretty much in-line with our product vision," Sven Neumann, a respected GIMP developers and author of the GIMP Pocket Reference, wrote in response to Ubuntu's plan. "GIMP is a high-end application for professionals. It is not the tool that you would advise every user to use for their causal photo editing."
Most likely replacing GIMP for quick-and-dirty photo editing on the mainstream level is F-Spot.
Do you agree with the decision to remove GIMP from default Ubuntu installations? Hit the jump and sound off.
You could buy a used car -- albeit not a very good one -- for the same scratch it takes to pick up a copy of Adobe Photoshop, the de facto standard in high-end photo editing software. Or a pair of GTX 285 graphics cards for that killer SLI setup you've always wanted. We could go on, but at $700 for a piece of software, Photoshop's MSRP hardly needs put into perspective. In short, it's expensive.
It's also powerful, but don't worry if you don't have a handful of Benjamins laying around. Thankfully, you can perform a lot of the same photo editing tricks for free with GIMP. Short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, GIMP is the open source (and no-cost) equivalent to Photoshop, and like it's paid counterpart, GIMP can be a little overwhelming at first. That's where we come in.
Like swimming, it's best if you just dive in. To help give you that push, we waded through the gazillion tutorials floating around the Web and brought back a sundry collection of groovy tips and tricks that, along with some touches of our own, will have you learning the ins and outs of GIMP while having fun doing it. We'll show you how to make lifeless photos pop with detail, how to tap into the Force and add a lightsaber to any pic, make your own custom brushes, and much more.
Although many graphics professionals turn to Windows or Mac OS to execute their designs, Linux is far from helpless in this area. While it helps that Adobe Photoshop, the undisputed gold-standard program that most professionals use for raster graphics, runs on Linux through Wine, there are several native Linux programs that offer some of the same functionality. Furthermore, there are many free vector graphics programs that can produce infinitely scalable graphics much like what Adobe Illustrator can do. Aside from the software situation, there is no reason why Linux could not be just as effective with graphics applications as OS X and Windows, since Linux supports many peripherals like tablets out of the box with full plug-and-play support.
Are the Linux programs drop-in replacements for Photoshop and Illustrator? The answer could be either yes and no, depending on the way you look at it and what your needs are. If you compare the Linux alternatives to Photoshop/Illustrator feature-by-feature, the free open source tools will come up short by a significant margin and there is simply no way to get around that fact. If you actually need those features on a day-to-day basis, then you should get your wallet out and purchase Photoshop and/or Illustrator. However, if you can get by with less, the free open source software tools may be enough to get the job done and save you considerable money in the process.
The competition between open-source projects and retail applications is a never-ending struggle. Even when two products aren't in direct competition -- like Adobe's Photoshop versus the GNU Manipulation Program -- there's still an underlying push and pull for your attention and resources. The struggle only deepens when the retail version of the two programs approaches an inexpensive or free pricing model. Open-source is an alternative, but when is it the better alternative?
Open-source software developer Patrick McKenzie wrote a post recently about the various ways retail software developers can out-develop open-source alternatives to their products. While it was geared toward the perspective of an open-source creator, he nevertheless gave some good insight as to what differentiates quality open-source projects from the muck. And a number of his points apply to some of the very applications we've recommended in our weekly freeware/open-source roundups.
Click the jump to find out how the best open-source applications get their crowns!
In our opinion, no artistic medium offers a better opportunity to express a PC gamer’s individuality and inappropriate sense of humor like a personal decal “spray” projected on your enemy’s spawn room wall during a multiplayer match. While Valve has made it a mostly painless process to import spray images into their Source engine-based games, the difficulty still lies in creating an original image you can be proud to vandalize next to an enemies corpse. And since no game offers more opportunities to grief friends and enemies than Left 4 Dead, we’re going to show you a flawless technique for creating your own ‘writing on the wall’, pun absolutely intended.