Of late I have been wondering about what software I would need to edit and manage photographs on Linux, something like a digital darkroom. Basically, what anyone would want at the bare minimum is some software to get the photos from the camera to the PC, software to edit the photos and maybe “digitally develop” them (should include standard post processing and fixes ) and lastly something to manage that ever increasing collection of pictures.

So here is a list of software that just does this on Linux:

  1. FSpot
    This is a full featured photo management software for the gnome desktop environment. It supports JPEG, RAW, TIFF, GIF among 16 other formats. You can transfer your photographs from a storage device like a hard disk, memory card, USB stick or your camera. F-SPot lets you tag the images, organize them and even provides a time line for images added. F-Spot also doubles up as quick editor for those small fixes. It features a versioning system so that your original photos are always untouched. And you can even export the images directly on to Flickr, Picasa Web, Gallery, or Original
  2. GPhoto
    gPhoto2 is a free, redistributable, ready to use set of digital camera software applications for Unix-like systems, written by a whole team of dedicated volunteers around the world. It supports more than 900 cameras. You can use this to transfer photos from your camera to the Linux box using this.
  3. Gimp
    GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed piece of software for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring. The latest version, Gimp 2.4 has a lot of specialized tools for correcting barrel distortion, doing perspective transformations etc. The application has come a long way from its humble beginnings and is by far the most preferred open source alternative to Photoshop. Most of the features that you would need in normal photo adjustments like contrast corrections, tones and levels etc. are present.
  4. Exposure Blend
    This plugin for Gimp lets you combine two or more exposures to get an HDR image. Its a pretty handy plugin to have around. For a detailed tutorial on how to use this plugin click here.
  5. UFRaw
    Gimp does not have out of the box RAW support, and so you will need additional plugins to process RAW images.The Unidentified Flying Raw (UFRaw) is a utility to read and manipulate RAW images from digital cameras. It can be used on its own or as a Gimp plug-in. It reads RAW images using Dave Coffin’s raw conversion utility – DCRaw. UFRaw supports color management workflow based on Little CMS, allowing the user to apply ICC color profiles.
  6. Rawstudio
    An alternative to using a plugin is to use a stand alone application like Rawstudio. Rawstudio is an open-source program to read and manipulate RAW images from most digital cameras. It has a graphical user interface, so you can simply open a RAW file and experiment with the controls to see how they effect the image. The interface is quite intuitive to use and has simple controls.

This pretty much covers everything that I think is needed to get up and running on Linux. If I have missed anything please feel free to comment and add to the list.

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