Is Gimp a functional replacement for Photoshop in the technological infrastructures of modern society?

I got a bit carried away with the title. Basically the question is can Gimp do everything I need? Since I started looking in to free and open software and reading more and more about the Free software foundation and there take on software and how it should be free forever for everybody and to do with it what they please. I have since then started to embrace the same philosophy. Therefore as a photographer I would have to consider Gimp as a replacement for Photoshop. So how is Gimp?

About a year ago I installed Gimp on my main working machine and forced my self to work on Gimp instead of the other leading proprietary software. Working on Gimp took me longer and it did take me a while to understand the difference and how to utilizes Gimp at the same speed as PS. Another issue which was of great important to me and that is the final image quality. I have always used 16 bit files when possible and save all my work as 16 bit tiff files (but I do save the tiff files as JPG for printing at Blurb) so the question is will Gimp produce quality prints to my liking since it can only do 8bit?

Book coverMore then a year has past and I now have done my first professional photo album and only used Gimp. Before I had made albums which have a few photos processed via Gimp. I can not see any difference between the Gimp photo and Photoshop photo when processes with the same final image in mind. However when you look at the histogram you can see there is a difference between the 16 bit PS processed file and the 8bit Gimp file. This difference does not translate to better or worse photo quality. And as I became more confident, and quicker, using Gimp I did my first completer photo book using only Gimp. So how did it turn out? Did it meet my level of standard? The customer is happy and the photos meet my standard of quality. I do admit some of them I would redo after seeing the book but most of them turned out excellent.

Mother and daughter: Gimp Photo

Mother and daughter: Gimp Photo

Black and white Gimp photo

Black and white Gimp photo

So Is Gimp a replacement for Photoshop? Yes it is. But it isn’t perfect. I can not work on 16 bit files which I would like to be able to do. I can not convert pictures to Cmyk (something I rarely use these days but is probably important). Printing Super A3 prints on my Epson 1270 printer will not work but A4 printing is good.

Gimp Processed wedding photo

Gimp Processed wedding photo

I can produce the same visual quality prints and photos from Gimp as in Photoshop. So far I can not see any difference between prints made in 16bit file space compared to the same photo worked in 8 bit. But since the work flow in Gimp is a bit different I sometimes have processed the same photo in both programs and made slight different final prints as you can see below. The final result can be duplicated by either program and the difference is just because of the different view I had in mind while working.

One photo processed with two different photo processors

One photo processed with two different photo processors

One photos two photo processors

One photo two photo processors

I would recommend Gimp to everybody and I will continue to us Gimp as my main work program. There might be times I will have to use something else but when Gimp evolves I am sure I will have no need for anything else.

Gimp 2.8.
God I love the changes in Gimp 2.8 but it seams 2.8 isn’t multithreding the CPU (or something) since it only uses about 35% max of my CPU power. Which makes my Gimp 2.8 work far slower then Gimp 2.6. So far I haven’t been able to fix the problem. I have tried it on my old Asus A7m computer and the same problem appears there. Running on the Windows XP side on the Asus A7m, Gimp 2.8 is only using one core of two and it feels REALLY slow. Using the same computer in Pear OS 4 and running Gimp 2.6.11 processing the same picture is fast and the computer is using the full potential of the CPU. If I do not find a solution for it I might have to stop using it and switch to 2.6. If anybody knows anything about this issue I would like to hear about it.

Wish list for next versions of Gimp
16 bit files
Cmyk (not that important for me)
Super A3 Printing
Record my work and do batch processing for files or folders (I know this can be done in some way with a script but I don’t know how).

A short story about Proprietary software
I heard a story about Photoshop when they released CS 6, there was a bug in the program making it vulnerable to attacks and attackers could take control over the computer. Of course Adobe fixed the problem when they found out (which would probably have happened sooner if the code had been open) but they wanted to charge something like 100$ for the fix. If I would have bought a car and there was a design flaw I would not have been happy having to pay for the fix. But since Adobe is the leader in this field and you might say monopolizing the market they can do this without regards to the user and only think about there own benefit at the expense of the user of course. For this and many other reasons I am going to support free and open source software. Adobe did give the fix for free since everybody went crazy and complaint when they wanted to charge for the bug fix. I am sure Adobe regret doing it and will try to exploit us in some other way later.

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Gimp article and Pear Os

Pear os looks goodWell folks. What have I been up to these days? Well I have been battling with my Asus A7m laptop to get it working with Pear Os for a few days. It seams to be unstable with all effects running and I had many weird issues. For instance my touch pad stops working when I sometimes start LibreOffice and from time to time the computer stops just completely. After downloading the correct drive for the nvidia card the computer started to run more smoothly but I still had the touch pad problem. But when I logged out and logged back in and had no effects turned on then the computer became totally stable. It appears my Nvidia card is for some reason making my system become unstable. I have no idea why but it is running smoothly now except many of the cool effects I had are now gone. For example the mission control is gone. But I suppose that is a small price to pay for stability.

I have been using Gimp for some time now and doing all sort of tests but I have been having problems with Gimp 2.8. It won’t use the full potential of my CPU. Processing the same photo in Gimp 2.6 the program is fast and responsive. Opening the same photo in Gimp 2.8 it is slow and boring. But the new layout is outstanding in Gimp 2.8 and I wish I could use it but it looks like I will have to stick with Gimp 2.6 for a little while longer since 2.8 isn’t working on my AMD laptop and AMD desktop (no I haven’t tried it on a Intel computer.

Soon I will publish the Gimp article so stay tuned.

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Ubuntu 12.04 lts review

Well folks I finally got my Asus A7m 17″ laptop back from repair after having the mother board replaced. Everything workes fine except I haven’t been able to access the hidden partition to restore my Windows XP operating system which was starting to behave a bit abnormally. But so far no luck. The XP OS is working on the Asus A7m but I was anyway starting to use Linux a lot more so I decided to install Ubuntu 12.04 as dual boot. The installation worked well and I had a working 12.04 in about an half an hour. With Color management working (didn’t work when 11.10 was installed). So how are my first impressions? Well Unity feels more functional and fun to use, more mature I could say. I prefer it to the feel of Windows 7 and the computer appears to be generating less heat then when 11.10 was installed on it. Which is a good thing since battery performance should also improve. I installed Gimp 2.8 and I like the changes that have been made in Gimp (more about that in another post) but I couldn’t get Ekiga to work. It works on windows 7 but I haven’t been able to call anyone via Ekiga since nobody I know use it and my friends haven’t been willing to switch from Skype (which is owned by Microsoft). But on Linux I have not been able to get it to dial the echo test call.

But back to Ubuntu 12.04. Having Gimp, Firefox, file folder, ekiga, Skype and a ODF document open the computer was using about 81% of the 2gb memory. At start up the Asus A7m is using about 460mb of RAM.

My Asus X101

Final words.
God I love Gnu/linux and Ubuntu. Yes I love it. As much a human can love a dead thing. Ubuntu feels fast on my on my laptop, boots up in 50 sek (after bios test and choosing OS from the purple menu thingy which starts first) and it just looks beautiful. I do have to do some changes and ad a script so I could get suspend to work since the Bluetooth seams to interfere with it. But Ubuntu 12.04 feel’s mature and I like it. But it doesn’t work as well on my x101 Asus netbook which feels fast with Lubuntu my current favorite.

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Another (new) Open letter to the Sigma corporation

Yes yes, this is another open letter to the Sigma corporation. Why on earth you ask? Well after  I wrote the other one I have been looking into the concept of supporting Linux and from there I started reading a bunch about the Free Software Foundation and from there I have changed my mind.

I apologies
I would like to start by apologizing to Richard Stallman and the http://www.FSF.org for my comment on the Sigma Photo Raw converter to be a free program (not that anybody complained). It is gratis but it isn’t free software. After reading more about the Free Software Foundation and what Richard Stallman is all about I have since changed my mind about my previous open letter to Sigma. Do I mean I don’t want Sigma to support Linux? Well  yes I do want them to support GNU/linux but there is more to it. Then what the heck do I want?

I would like Sigma the make the Sigma Photo Pro Raw converter a Free software under the GNU General Public License v3.0 (* If anybody believes that it should be under different license then please comment since I may not be the best expert on these free Licenses).

Why should they do that? Well lets look at that step by step.

1. Are you making money from the Sigma Photo Pro raw converter?
I would think that the main product is the camera they sell and the SPP Converter is a program that comes gratis with the camera to get the best out of it. So if they want to sell more cameras there wouldn’t be any purpose to sell the camera alone and then people would have to buy the SPP software to get there photos converted to the high standard I expect from the Sigma raw files (this might however be a long term goal of Sigma if the Foveon camera becomes popular, I just don’t know). Canon sells there cameras with a simple raw converters which I think nobody uses since they are so primitive and Canon probably knows that people will most likely buy the Adobe Lightroom or (preferably) use the many open source free raw Converters out there like RawTherapee. So the Sigma SPP is provide with no cost at this time and the camera is the product they sell and intend to make a profit. But the Raw converter is not perfect. It may produce good pictures but it’s function could be improved.

2. Use the power of volunteers and create an outstanding SPP converter.
By making the SPP Free under the GNU license will open up the possibility to use other raw programs or codes that are open source and free, that might make the SPP even better, They could use for example the code for RawTherapee to improve the SPP (which also means RawTherapee could use the code from SPP to improve the x3f file conversion and I can’t see that it would be a bad idea. Since you are going to try and sell the Sigma Foveon camera and get world domination (of course) then why not do it under the GNU General Public License. Also you would have access to volunteers offering codes to improve the function on the SPP program for free. You could even enlist volunteers to help with the code and in a much faster time get an ever better functioning converter. One thing I would really like to get is copying settings between photos without opening a photo.

3. I don’t think you will lose profits doing it this way
How do I know? Well Sigma I am sure you are selling lenses and cameras. The better the SPP is the more attractive the camera might bee and just the fact you went GNU is going to be noticed and talked about. Can any one spell Free publicity? Since you are giving the SPP converter away why not benefit from the many people willing to lend a hand in making it better under the GNU license. Just reading my older post on dpreview with the first Open Sigma Letter and the response should show that there were people willing to help. Heck I would learn coding to help. You could even continue the current cost you put in to the development of the converter and then get the added bonus of the community helping and adding to the code. I truly believe this is a win win thing.

So how about it Sigma? Why not make it truly Free?

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Ubuntu 12.04 lts

Well everybody who support and belive in free and open source software, congratiulation on the new realese of Ubuntu 12.04 lts. To test the new distro I did a live run via usb drive on my Asus x101 to see the changes and how it felt. But before I describe how it worked on my Asus I did try it on a 17″ Thosiba laptop with AMD E-300 1.3Ghz Dual core chip and running the Ubuntu 12.04 from the USB Drive feelt faster than running windows 7 installed on the machine. Even starting programs like Libre office from the USB was quick and I would imagen installing the Ubuntu Os on the machina would even work faster. But that wasen’t my machine so I coulden’t installe Ubuntu 12.04 lts on it. So my next step was try it on my Asus x101 and hoping it would work faster than Ubuntu 11.10. But it seamed to be showing the same sluggish (but not slow) performance as it did with ubuntu 11.10. Have in mind it isn’t slow as such, it just isn’t as fast as say Lubuntu I am currently running. But Ubuntu 12.04 seams to function very well on my Asus x101 just as 11.10 did but since i am not going to install it on the x101 I started the upgrade process on my Asus and found out that isn’t possibe with the Asus x101 with it’s 8gb drive (not enough space). It needs 1.2 gb of space and I have only 1 gb free space.

Xubuntu 12.04 lts.
Xubuntu desktopSo i grabed my 12 year old Dell Inspiron 7500 laptop with a 0,6 ghz Intel chip running xubuntu and tryed the upgrade process from 11.10 to 12.04 and yes that worked but it took a long time. Not that the process was slow, I just forgot to turn of suspend after 30 min so the pc was always sleeping when I checked the process. After the update I did have the feeling it was running faster (but not by much). After start up it was using 30% of the 512mb ram. I even installed Gimp 2.8 and it ran pretty well. Just to avoid any confusion my Asus x101 is faster than the 12 year old  Dell computer. I think I will just be using the 12.04 lts on the Dell from now on and stop upgrading it. Can’t imagine I will still be using it in five years.

But the only way for me to upgrade to 12.04 is by doing a fresh install on my Asus x101 which many say is the best way to go.

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A Lubuntu review.

Yes I know what you are thinking. ,,hey Birgir I thought you were going to install Pear OS? What happened?”

Well while I was doing live runs of the many linux OS that are available I for the fun of it wanted to see if my Asus x101 could run 64 bit distro and for the fun of it I just downloaded Lubuntu.

Lubuntu desktop: not bad looking.

So how is it?
Eeee. well. Lubuntu is great. It far exceded my espectation. Lubuntu just feels quick and lacking a better word for it I can say simply it feels like Lubuntu isn’t in my way when using the computer. Ubuntu on my asus x101 worked fine, actualy the last days before installing Lubuntu the touchpad was going of line qute often, but Ubuntu felt slow sometimes so I was more aware of it while using the computer. Not to say that I was often waiting for Ubuntu. But Lubuntu feels great. It is light, everything is quick and I can install UbuntuOne, skype and Libre Office. Abi word didn’t read some files correctly which is strange since my 12 year old Dell inspiron laptop running Xubuntu reads the many doc files well. Some things work differently in Lubuntu but doing a quick search online always gave me the help I needed thanks to the many Linux users who help each other constantly. God I love Linux. Accessing power manager is a bit different than in Ubuntu for example.

The small Asus 10.1" screen get's used fairly well.

Actualy I think I am getting obsessed with Linux. But more about that in another post.

Back to Lubuntu. One thing I am wondering if there is a difference in regards to speed since I am using the 64 bit version of Lubuntu while I was using 32 bit Ubuntu. The only way to find out is to install Ubuntu again but in 64 bit version and see if it is faster.

Using a bit more ram than 32 bit distro's

Start up time is 30 seconds which is about 10 seconds better than Ubuntu was. Shut down time is also faster and the battery seams to last about the same or just somewere under 4 hours. Lubuntu 64 bit seams to be using a bit more of RAM but from what I understand that is normal for 64bit versions. Libre office starts up faster than Libre on Ubuntu 32 bit, don’t know if that is because of Lubuntu or 32/64 bit issue. Working on Lubuntu feels good and I will probably stick with it for a few more weeks before I install Pear os on the Asus x101.

So in short I do recommend Lubuntu 11.10 64bit on the Asus x101, it’s snappy and clutter free so to speak. An excelent Netbook OS and I am sure it also works even better on grown up laptops and desktops PS’s.

One thing that is pretty funny is that I have almost completely gotten used to the small keyboard on the x101.

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A open letter to the Sigma Corporation

This is an open letter to the camera and lens maker Sigma.

And what is it the message?

Please support Linux.

Simple message I know, but why? I am a Sigma Foveon camera user since the year 2003 and have found the Sigma Foveon photo sensor to be one of the unique things in our world just after the Pyramids, sex and Linux. I use the camera because of the special pictures it can produce and I believe it is my responsibility to support Sigma by buying there products so Sigma will continue to develop this sensor. But I am also a Linux user and believe Linux is something I should support and advocate. What I would really like is to be able to use the Sigma Photo Pro Raw converter to process my photos within a Linux operating system of my choice. And I believe if Sigma would make there Sigma Photo Pro compatible with Linux they would be increasing there product awareness among a whole new demographic.  Let’s look at this in a more step by step manner.

1. Support a unique system
Sigma cameras use a unique censor and Linux is in my mind also unique. There is nothing quite like the philosophy of free software for all. Simply by making there Sigma photo Pro raw converter work in Linux Sigma would create a buss in whole new demographic of people. Sigma could even collaborate with System76 and create a Sigma equipped Laptop (along with a Sigma SD1 Merril camera).

2.Sigma will sell more cameras
Actually I have no idea if it will I just believe it will. Simply by advancing the raw converter to Linux will spark interest for Sigma products.

3. The Sigma Raw converter is free and so is Linux
Yes I know the Sigma Raw converter isn’t open source but it is available to anyone who wishes to try. So are the many Linux operating systems in the world. I am sure some PR person at Sigma who reads this is now thinking of a cool slogan to make for the next advert now. There are possibility’s here.

So in short. Sigma Corporation of USA  and Japan, please think about the next step for the Sigma raw converter and the possibility in the free press this will create.  I am 100% sure it will be positive. I my self promise to go to every Linux chat room I can think of and praise Sigma for your daring and innovation.

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