Category Archives: Linux

Playing around with MyPaint and GIMP in Ubuntu 11.10

As some of you know I’m a bigtime geek, playing with linux and seeing how free software is coming along is always interesting to me. This is a field which is rapidly expanding these days and there are artists out there who use many of these tools professionally. Also in recent history every time I’ve upgraded to the latest Ubuntu I’ve always done some tests to make sure all my stuff is working properly.

Today I finally got some free time to play with MyPaint, here are the results:

Quick sketching done with MyPaint

My previous experience with MyPaint had left me rather disappointed. This time it’s completely the opposite. I actually took my time and really worked around with the various brushes and looked through the keyboard shortcuts. Apparently the keyboard shortcuts make a huge difference in terms of the usability of this program.

The GIMP Sketch in Ubuntu 10.04

So I heard of folks having all sorts of trouble with wacom and Ubuntu 10.04 Actually I heard about this a while ago and never upgraded my big workstation to the newest Ubuntu until this could be resolved. Today I decided to see if I can get it to work on my laptop which is sporting 10.04 and amazingly everything worked right out of the box… The only different part from before was that some of the configuration steps for The GIMP to work properly are located in different places and look different from what I remember them looking like in the past. This was not a big deal as it took me about 5 mins to get it running properly. So why people are having trouble? I have no clue.

Anyways, I figured I’d post here a quick sketch I just made.

Ubuntu 10.04 Sketch using The GIMP

All done with the GIMP, about 1 hour worth of scratching against my tablet while watching some silly movie.

Really looking forward to updates in the GIMP. I also need to figure out how to set up my strip bar for zooming, that slows me down the most right now. I’m going to play with this in the next weeks when I have some time and see if I can get it right and to stick. In the past I was able to configure it but every time when I rebooted I had to reconfigure the settings.

Update on 24th of October 2010

I worked on the above sketch a bit in Photoshop. Here are the results:

Swords & Tits Yet again!

I left the hand large on purpose, just rendered away with minimal updates to the shapes in the original drawing. I really need to get working on some serious digital paintings soon.

Ubuntu 904 Girl

This is a sketch I just created under the new Ubuntu version, so I tattooed her with the Ubuntu logo!

Sketch of a girl with an Ubuntu Logo Tattoo

I worked on this for about 30 minutes, all of it was done in the GIMP 2.6.6 under linux. I think I might make updates to this to clean it up but this is where it’s at for now and I like it! Cheers to all the linux developers out there, OSS is coming along really nicely.

Here is my thread where I posted this on the Ubuntu Forums.

Sketching with The GIMP

These are two recent sketches I created in The GIMP.

War Vehicle

Futuristic War Vehicle

The mechanical contraption above was somewhat inspired by the vehicle in Aliens for those who have seen the movie. However, I didn’t reference anything when I drew it and was really intended as a GIMP test.

Witch Portrait

The above portrait of a witch was also a GIMP test. I experimented a lot with this working with brushes and colors and many of the tools within GIMP. The final result of the mosaic was due to a filter I applied to the image. The sketch wasn’t really all that good so no big loss.

Blender: Basic Navigation

For those unfamiliar with it Blender is a 3D open source suite capable of modeling, texturing, animation and rendering. I’ve recently been playing around with it after hearing about the incredible progress which has been made on this front over the last few years.

Below you can see a screenshot of the basic interface.

Blender Screenshot
Click on the image for a full size screenshot.


Basic Navigation in the 3D Environment

Chances are, unless someone is there to tell you how to navigate around the 3D environment, it won’t come natural to you. The good news is that all navigation is handled by the middle mouse button of a standard 3 button mouse. After a few minutes of using Blender you brain will form the required connections to do this properly! Here are the precise functions and how to perform them:

Also note that Blender is cursor context sensitive. This means the above functions will only work if your cursor is above the 3D view in the center of the screen. If you’re over the “File, Edit, etc” menu these functions won’t work to navigate around the scene for example. This generally applies to all things Blender, if you’re trying to do something and not getting the expected result make sure your cursor is correctly positioned!

Good luck and have fun Blendering!

Using GIMP under Linux

Over the last year I invested quite a bit of time into learning about Linux, giving multiple distributions a try, and suffering through the learning process. I’ve come to the conclusion that Linux is great for two types of users: the clueless ones who just browse the net, and the super high tech users. The people for whom Linux is NOT a good option are the middle skilled users, most notably gamers! These are the users who are familiar with Windows and expect Linux to work out of the box in the same way Windows does. Anyways, I want to focus on GIMP in this article, as it is one of the applications which most of the bigger distributions will install automatically.

GIMP – GNU Image Manipulation Program is one of the open source alternatives to Photoshop. GIMP is available for Windows but unlike Photoshop it is available for Linux! While this application is not as powerful as Adobe’s industry standard for graphics GIMP will surprise the uninitiated with the raw number of features already implemented in it. Most importantly for people who cannot afford to pay Photoshop’s high ticket price GIMP is definitely worth looking at and you have to try it! Here is a 1 hour sketch I made in GIMP while testing out my tablet under Linux:

GIMP Devil - Created in GIMP

So here is a small list of the features which is currently available in GIMP:

  • Brushes with pressure sensitivity linkable to opacity or size!
  • Texture brushes – .abr (Photoshop brush files) can be imported though many features don’t work yet.
  • Blending modes such as Hard/Soft Light available in Photoshop are also in GIMP
  • Layers!!!

Here is a screenshot of my desktop showing GIMP in use: GIMP Screenshot. On the left side I’ve parked the main tool selection pallete and on the right you can see a bunch of the other windows which I usually pull up in Photoshop such as the color chooser, the history, the layers and etc.

While the interface isn’t identical to the one used by Photoshop most users won’t have trouble locating basic functions which they use in Photoshop. The user interface is constantly being upgraded with each successive revision of GIMP and some major changes are expected with the 2.5 release which is currently being developed. Considering this is a freely available application I cannot say enough good things about it! Give it a shot and love it!

One thing is for sure, Linux has grown up and is now a very viable alternative to Windows and GIMP is awesome!

openSUSE KDE vs. Gnome

I’ve now had a chance to try out both KDE and Gnome under openSUSE on my home computers. Both KDE and Gnome are extremely easy to use for a newbie user and the openSUSE team integrates both desktops into openSUSE so they’re slightly different from the default desktops in other distributions of Linux using Gnome and KDE. For an experienced user the choice is simply a matter of preference but there are a large number of features each desktop does better than the other.

I originally started with Gnome under openSUSE 10.2 about a year ago. Subsequently I tried Ubuntu’s Gnome and eventually installed openSUSE’s KDE as I built my new system and was shocked at how complete KDE is. For a user familiar with Windows I think KDE is clearly the easier desktop to get used to. Overall I give KDE the nod for being much more feature rich than Gnome and simply more polished. However, after playing around with KDE (the 3.5 version) I installed Gnome on the new system and have now went back to using it rather than KDE.

I’m honestly not sure why Gnome appeals more to me. Maybe it’s the stupid footprint logo or something which I like so much about Gnome but either way I prefer using it even though I see how much more polished KDE is. If someone can give me a rational explanation for this I would really like to hear it.

There is one thing which I wish openSUSE had implemented better in Gnome though – the Software Management window under YaST. Take a look:

openSUSE's YaST Software Managment Window under Gnome - yes it sucks!

While this window is functional and has given me little problems now that I know what it’s purpose is I am frustrated knowing how much better it is under KDE. I’m almost tempted to log out of Gnome and switch over to KDE just to do software updates. Under Gnome I really miss seeing the info the KDE version of the same window provides.

Anyways, I’m just venting, I’m looking forward to openSUSE 11 with KDE 4.0. The wonderful thing about Linux is that you can make such decisions anytime you want, and it’s free! While I am using Gnome because I am strange I really think KDE is awesome. If only all the choices I had to make in life were such as this one…

Guide on how to install Graphics Drivers on openSUSE 10.3 using YaST

I’ve decided to put together a guide with some screenshots answering the newbie’s questions on how to install graphics card drivers under openSUSE 10.3. For those unfamilar with openSUSE, it is one of the better known distributions of linux… because there are many distributions what is contained in this guide may not work if you have another distribution like Ubuntu or Fedora.

This guide will focus on installing using YaST because it is in my opinion the best way to install the drivers and to familiarize the users with how YaST works. There are other ways to install graphics drivers including one-click install and manual driver command-line installations. I believe the one-click install works for most people but some people simply have to suffer through the manual installation and after having done a few myself … I can testify it is painful and frustrating.

Also, the screenshots provided below are specific to my hardware but the main steps you must follow should be the same as I’ve described in the text. The screenshots are only included to help guide you through the process.

Quick review of openSUSE:

One of the biggest advantages of openSUSE over other distributions is the fact it is mainly developed by a very dedicated company (Novell) and is in my opinion the best and most integrated open source linux distribution. Open source means you can download all the code for the entire operating system and applications which come on the default DVD. However, graphics drivers are NOT open source and must be downloaded and installed subsequently by the user if they choose to do this. For most things like browsing the internet, emailing or writing office documents you don’t need the proprietary drivers, but if you plan on doing any gaming or installing a fancy 3D desktop you must get this done.

Also, in my experience openSUSE seems to have better hardware support as I’ve hit snags installing other distributions on very new hardware in the past while SUSE never complained. Out of the box (right after a new install) openSUSE will shock you with just how much software it comes with especially in terms of regular office productivity. The default KDE openSUSE install comes with OpenOffice and a choice of two elite web browsers: Konqueror and Firefox. The Konqueror browser is also used for system-file browsing similar to how internet explorer is used under Windows.

I’m a big fan of the KDE environment but there is a custom Gnome desktop which can also be used under openSUSE. Both KDE and Gnome are fully functional desktop environments similar to what regular Microsoft Windows users are familiar with. Anyone familiar with Windows will have little problems getting around either of these two desktop environments – I use both KDE and Gnome on different systems and really don’t have a preference but for this guide all screenshots were taken under KDE though I doubt this will be a problem.

Having said this I understand for the linux newbie openSUSE may not be ideal distribution (most user friendly) until they find out where things are! I first tried openSUSE 10.1 over a year ago (not sure when) and attempting to install the graphics drivers caused me to dump the project for a while. In this regard the newest version of Ubuntu is much better – with just a couple of button clicks you’ll get the drivers installed and never have to google anything… the fact you’re here means you probably googled “install linux graphics drivers” right? Doing manual driver installs and having to troubleshoot error messages or crashed X-server is simply a daunting task for anyone not familiar with linux.

Graphics driver install:

The recommended way to install anything under openSUSE is to use the YAST Control Center. Under the openSUSE menus this is accessible through Applications > System > YaST (Administrator Settings)

After entering your root password you’ll be greeted by the following menu:

YaST Control Center

I recommend adding YaST to your favorites/desktop or “quick launch” menu because I’ve found myself using it almost daily once I figured out what it’s for… to do this right click on the icon before launching it and select “Add to Favorites.” Now that this is done you can access it quickly without having to do the full navigation path of Applications > Systems blah blah blah…

Because openSUSE is one of the biggest linux distributions and Novell tests and integrates applications into openSUSE it is very important to use the distribution specific repositories. A repository is similar to a website/ftp location from which you can download software to your computer and install it. If you carefully read the instructions from both nVIDIA and ATI websites when attempting to install drivers you’ll probably find a link to the SUSE repositories, but there is an even easier way through YaST!

You’ll notice immediately after launching YaST that the first option on the top left is “Software.” You can navigate the other options later but everything we need to install graphics drivers is under the Software tab. First you must set up the repository from which you’ll download the graphics driver and install it. If you have the info you can manually configure it using the properly labeled option… or you can select “Community Repositories” and wait a few seconds while the various repos are downloaded.

List of Community Repos for openSUSE

You’ll notice in the screenshot above there are repositories for both ATI and Nvidia so select the one you need. I have an Nvidia card so that’s the driver I’ll install. Make sure the check-mark is visible, simply selecting the repository and highlighting it in blue as shown in the screenshot above for the Packman repo is not good enough to tell openSUSE you want this repository available. By the way, while you’re here I suggest selecting the Pacman, Openoffice and X11 repositories too but we only need the ATI/Nvidia repo to continue right now, once you’ve made your selections click “Finish” on the bottom right and wait until everything is set up.

Next in YaST select Software Managment and you’ll get this window after a short wait while openSUSE figures out everything you have installed and checks all the repositories it has set up:

Software Managment Screen

Ok, the first time you see this you’ll probably be a bit confused… in time you’ll know this screen and love it a lot more than the Windows Installer. At the top left of the screen right under “File” you’ll see a dropdown selection menu by the “Filter:” label. Click and select “Repositories” from the drop-down and then select the Nvidia Repository – from here you’ll need to select the correct driver for your graphics card. If you don’t know which one you need you should consult the Nvidia driver download website and notes, it is not hard to figure out. You’ll also need to select the correct X11 version to work with the Nvidia driver as shown here:

Software Managment Screen

Once this is done select “Accept” on the bottom right and let openSUSE configure itself.

You can use YaST to install new softwre and also to update your old software or hardware drivers. Keep in mind it takes a few days/weeks after Nvidia releases a new generic driver for the updated openSUSE version to show up in the repository. Unless you have a very pressing need I recommend waiting until the driver in the repository shows up and don’t fight the manual install.

Once you’ve installed your graphics drivers you might have to set up your resolution and enable 3D though most likely after the install/reboot the hardware will come up with optimum settings if you’re using an LCD. Either way you can configure through YaST once again but choosing Hardware > Graphics Card & Monitor


Make sure if you have to manually set refresh rates you don’t break your monitor, consult the monitor manufacturer’s website and look for a user manual which will show you the horizontal and vertical frequencies for your hardware. This should be rare as Nvidia is very thorough with updating monitor definitions in their drivers and by default after the install everything should work correctly.

Extra Setup After Installation:

Now even though the installation was successful your system must be “told” to use the Nvidia driver properly. This requires the sending of a few commands. Open up a terminal window and log in as a su, after entering your password type “Init 3” which will pop you into a command line interface. You’ll once again have to log in and come up to su, once this is done use the following sequence of commands:

The above sequence of commands modifies your xorg.conf file and allows you to use 3d acceleration and Compiz Fusion. You’ll have to take some more steps to completely enable Compiz Fusion later on of course.


If everything worked as it was supposed to there would be no need for me to write this guide. With any version of Linux it is simply inevitable you’ll run into problems even by following procedures such as the one above. Unfortunately I might not be able to help in case you do have problems, but others may be much more capable. So if you do run into problems using the method outlined above or a manual install I suggest visiting the nVIDIA Linux Forum and dropping a question there.

Please let me know if this was a useful guide for you by leaving a comment below. I’m considering doing more of these in the future so hopefully some people find it useful. No comments means nobody cares… If you’re brand new to Linux and this was helpful to you, welcome to the world of open source, cheers!