Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Fate of Photo Editing in Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala

You may have started to hear rumors that The GIMP and aren't safe for inclusion in 10.04 Lucid Lynx. "What?!?" you say. "The GIMP has been in every GNOME distribution since GNOME existed (sinceGNOME is written to GTK, which stands for the GIMP ToolKit)." Well, well. Good idea. Not likely to move forward.

The argument goes like this:
  1. Not many people actually edit photos.
  2. Fewer people use GIMP to do the editing, since the interface may be difficult for some.
  3. Most of the editing people want to do on photos is available from within F-Spot, and thus GIMP is duplicating functionality.
I think getting rid of The GIMP in the default install is a great idea. It takes up precious space on the Ubuntu Live CD. It's easy to add later by searching for "graphics editor" or "photo editor." Unfortunately, getiing rid of the GIMP means that F-Spot needs to be examined, and it has been in a terrible state for several releases.
  • It didn't work at all on 8.04 AMD64 at release time.
  • It had an awful "the sidebar has zero width" bug for two other releases.
  • It doesn't categorize or edit photos that aren't imported, even if those photos are in the ~/Pictures folder.
The sharks circle F-Spot and say "since we're removing The GIMP, let's replace F-Spot, too. $Foo is a great project," where $Foo is one of:
  1. gThumb
gThumb has been around for a long time (and is still the default for Fedora), but was replaced with F-Spot on Ubuntu several years ago. Are the Ubuntu developers going to admit that moving to F-Spot was a mistake? Are they going to appear to cave in to the Ubuntu users that oppose Mono apps in the default installation?

Shotwell is a new photo management app for GNOME written in Vala, and it gets decent reviews. Still, it's new, untested, and doesn't support tagging or real editing options. Check out the Shotwell PPA by entering "ppa:yorba/ppa" into the Software Sources -> Third-party tab.

So ... I don't think it's going to happen. I'd like to see this change (along with some others in the default application area), but there's not a clear path forward, and definitely not enough agreement to get a real plan.

My preference? Leave 10.04LTS alone, get it as stable and bug-free as possible, and look to replace F-Spot with Solang (install Solang) in 10.10 when GNOME 2.X gives way to GNOME 3. has put a lot of work into this project. It's a photo manager which stores tagging information in Tracker, and he's written a Nautilus plug-in which handles Tracker tags, as well.  Wouldn't it be nice if the information you entered in your photo manager was available to your other applications, and to Zeitgeist, as well?


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I'm afraid, that, I am one of those idiots who think that GIMP interface is wrong, and don't want to learn it because of it. However, I see now that the GIMP is a very powerful package, and got somewhat accustomed to it.
Having said that, I would add a "cropping feature" and "hue/contrast, thingy" to the Eye of Gnome, or eog, and everything else could stay the same as it is now.


Thanks for informing us of this!

Getting rid of GIMP would be a horrible idea. Perhaps in default install that is acceptable, but overall, I believe that Canonical moving it into a "non-supported" part of Ubuntu (that part without a neat Ubuntu icon in Synaptic and gnome-app-install) would be a wrong thing to do.

But, since Canonical is continuously goofing around, with numerous releases which people seem to find broken, it looks like I'll stick with Debian for a long time. I will, however, pray that 10.04, being LTS, is not one of those releases that people have problems with.

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