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!

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