Chris J Powell

Open Source Saturday – Photoshop Alternative

I am not sure if my love of opensource comes from the access to great software that is open and FREE to share and modify or if I am just really really cheep but either way…I am hooked on all things OSS (Open Source Software) and have been since 2005 when my eyes were opened.  There are many many applications out there for nearly every use and configuration that you can think of and since the success of OS Sunday I figured it was time to expand that concept and not just look at the Operating System, but dive deeper into the ever expanding world of Open Source Applications.  What will have the honor of being the first to be looked at?

For the purposes of these reviews, I will put away my love of all things Linux and focus on Open Source Applications within the dreaded Windows environment that most of us are familiar with.  While my skin crawls just a little bit every time I hit Start on the Oracle VirtualBox instance of Windows 7 I need to remember that with 90%+ market share of the desktop market…this is what most of you use…so if I can help you find an alternative to the proprietary and expensive alternatives…then maybe one day you will make the leap of faith to go fully open source and join the Linux Revolution.  For the purposes of the testing, the Virtual Machine has been given a 60GB HDD and 4GB of RAM.

What is this fanciful and wonderful Open Source tool that I am eluding to…well it is the OSS alternative to Adobe Photoshop (Current Retail $699) called Gimpshop 2.8.  I have been using TheGIMP in Ubuntu and most Linux versions I have used for years and genuinely see the advantages and some disadvantages of this Photo Editing Solution.

If you are used to Photoshop, the first major change that you will notice is that TheGimp opens in 3 separate windows each with a different function.  On the left is your Toolbox, containing all of the relevant and needed image manipulation tools that you are used to with Photo Editing Tools.  The right widow is your Layer and Brushes and when you open up an image, the main window in the center becomes your work area (allowing you to resize that box is great because I often have another program open in the background so I can actually monitor things while I am editing photos).

Within that Center Window are your main File, Edit, View etc menu items that drop down and give you added function to your editing tasks.  With a great default selection of Filters and additional formatting tools at your finger tips (or mouse clicks).

GIMP itself is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program and can handle almost any basic or advanced photo editing requirement.  It is well documented, and available for Windows, Mac and is included in the repositories of nearly any and every Linux Distribution that I have seen.  When I first started using the GIMP I actually downloaded the full User Guide(warning this is a 25 MB download Link).  There are also dozens of very useful Tutorials available online (a good listing is found here).

If there was one downfall that I would see within this very powerful and well maintained example of Open Source Software, it is that the Layering System does take some getting used to in comparison to Photoshop and other High End photo editors…but for the price…it really can’t be beat.

Give it a try…in this world of everyone snapping pics with their Smart Phones and Digital Cameras you likely have hundreds if not thousands of pictures that are just sitting there in a folder.  Take the morning and touch some up.  Flood your Facebook and Flickr accounts with some edited images and see if anyone notices your hard work.

Cheers and Happy Saturday!

Chris J Powell

3 thoughts on “Open Source Saturday – Photoshop Alternative

  1. That’s a great look at a really useful tool.

    I had real hope for Linux a few years ago when some of the big players got in. I thought the support would swing to one or two major distros, and it could go mainstream. Looks like that will never happen with every family just forking more. Looks like you have to do OS for a living to love Linux.

  2. Ubuntu has done a nice job of simplifying Linux over the years, Harold. Although, it still isn’t as simple to maintain as Windows or Apple machines.

    By the way – There’s a ported version of GIMP (2.8.2) out there that runs great on both of my windows machines. I use it all of the time.

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