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December 24, 2003

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Overview of The GIMP - a free photograph and digital-image editing program

Use GIMP rather than Photoshop and save money

Mike Angelo -- 24 December 2003 (C) -- Page 1

Article Index
For more about why Linux is so much a better choice, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

Adobe Photoshop & GIMP Licensing Note

The applicable Adobe greedy, end-user agreement (EULA) taken together with Adobe's horrible Product Activation system mean that With Adobe Photoshop CS, you are restricted to installing Photoshop CS on only one primary computer and one secondary computer for each copy or license for Adobe Photoshop CS that you buy from Adobe.

The GIMP is Open Source Software and thus not only free, but you may install it on as many machines as you like. Moreover, unlike Photoshop, there are no restrictions that limit how many people can use your copy of the GIMP.

Adobe Product Activation Note

The GIMP does not require any product activation nonsense nor does it require product registration.

If there were no other reason to chose the GIMP over Adobe Photoshop CS, not having to put up with the Adobe product activation mechanism would be more than reason enough to chose the GIMP!

There are many reasons why Adobe product activation is a bad thing. Discussion of all the bad and obnoxious things about Adobe product activation is beyond the scope of today's article. However, a word of caution to anyone who is considering installing Adobe Photoshop CS on a computer system.

The Adobe product activation mechanism that Photoshop places on your system can shut down Photoshop until such time as Adobe decides to let you use your own software that you bought and paid for. In other words, Adobe, not you, ultimately is in control of your Photoshop application.

There is something that you can do to counter the Adobe product activation mechanism if it does shut down your Photoshop application. Install GIMP on your computer before Adobe can shut you down. Then you can access all your Photoshop files on the computer even though the Adobe product activation mechanism has shut down your Photoshop software

The product activation mechanism in Adobe Photoshop CS is not likely to shut down your entire computer. However, it effectively can shut down Photoshop. The Adobe Photoshop product activation mechanism puts Adobe, and not you, in control of your imaging software.

Fortunately, the GIMP has MS Windows versions. So, when Adobe's product activation scheme shuts you down, just open your Photoshop documents in the GIMP.

Note: An e-mail was sent to Adobe Systems and its PR firm, A&R Partners, on 22 December providing Adobe an opportunity to respond to the facts and conclusions reached in these Licensing and Product Activation Notes. Adobe did not refute or comment upon the facts and conclusions reached in these Licensing and Product Activation Notes. We therefore invoke our standard policy regarding the failure of sources to respond to questions and therefore deem Adobe's failure to deny our facts and conclusions here to be an admission by Adobe that our facts are true and correct and that our conclusions are well-founded and sound.

Dialogs and Palettes Note:

If you are a Photoshop user, please note that palettes in Photoshop are called dialogs (as in dialog boxes) in GIMP.

GIMP is an excellent, pixel-based, image manipulation and editing program. It's free and open source software. You can use it to edit photographs and other graphics. Or, you can create stunning graphics from scratch with it.

Originally, GIMP was a Linux/UNIX program. However, it has been ported to the Microsoft Windows platform -- that effectively makes GIMP a cross-platform (XP) program.

GIMP v Photo$hop

GIMP looks and feels much like Adobe Photoshop (GIMP = GNU Image Manipulation Program). Unlike Photoshop, the GIMP is free (as in beer) and does not need to be registered or activated.

There are desktop and user interface (UI) differences between GIMP and Photoshop. That might take some getting use to if you already are familiar with Photoshop.

Traditionally, Photoshop has had an easier to use desktop and user interface. However, the GIMP 1.3 desktop and UI changes all that. GIMP now is as easy to use as is Photoshop -- perhaps even easier.

GIMP does not have all the advanced, commercial, pre-press features that Photoshop does have. However, it comes pretty close to Photoshop with actual photo editing and image manipulation. Moreover. GIMP has some features that Photoshop does not have.

In short, unless you are a professional photographer or image editor who needs Photoshop's prepress features, you likely can do just about everything that you need or want to do with GIMP instead of Adobe Photoshop. Moreover at Photoshop's $649 price tag ($169 for upgrade from a licensed copy of Photoshop 7 or earlier) there are 649 more good reasons to use GIMP instead of Photoshop.

Photoshop has a greedy and consumer-unfriendly end-user license agreement (EULA). GIMP is free and has a very consumer-friendly license known as the General Public License (GPL). Please see the Adobe Photoshop & GIMP Licensing Note in the right-hand sidebar.

Additionally, Photoshop has a horrible and very anti-consumer Product Activation requirement. GIMP has no such crap! Please see the Adobe Product Activation Note in the sidebar.

A very nice thing about GIMP is that you can try it without paying a cent. Moreover, if you try the GIMP and like it, you do not have to pay a cent to keep on using it. If you are a Linux user, chances are that you already have GIMP installed on your Linux-based computer.

If you are a Microsoft Windows user, chances are that you do not already have the GIMP installed. Nevertheless you can download a Windows version of GIMP, free, and easily install it yourself. If your Linux distribution did not come with the GIMP you also can download a free Linux version of the GIMP. Download links are in the Resources section at the end of this article on page 2.

Gimp User's Manual

Karin and Olof S Kylander have a very nice chapter, Gimp for Photoshop users, in their book, Gimp User's Manual, that quickly will get you up to speed if you are a Photoshop user migrating to the GIMP. It's Chapter 5. Gimp User's Manual is online and there is a free-download link in the Resources section at the end of this article on page 2.

Version-wise, Gimp User's Manual is somewhat outdated. It is about GIMP 1.0.x. The current stable version of GIMP is 1.2.5 and the current developer version is 1.3.x. Moreover, GIMP 2.0 is expected to be released soon.

Nevertheless, you may freely download the Gimp User's Manual. That makes it a very good deal and well worth using to learn how to use the GIMP. The main point of this versions discussion is to let you know that GIMP has lots more features and many user-interface improvements since Gimp User's Manual was published.

The GIMP Desktop and Canvas

Figure 1, below, is a screen shot of GIMP version 1.3 running on SUSE Linux 9.0 and the KDE desktop for Linux. Figure 2, on page 2, is a screen shot of GIMP version 1.2.5 running on Microsoft Windows 98 SE.

Not all the dialog boxes or palettes are shown in these figures. However, please notice the overall similarity of the GIMP and Photoshop collections of tools, dialog boxes, and palettes. Please see the Dialogs and Palettes Note in the right-hand sidebar.

Some of the differences in appearance of the GIMP desktop in Figures 1 and 2 are because SUSE uses a different theme in its implementation of the GIMP than the default Windows GIMP theme. However, some differences are version-based differences.

For example, the menu-bar over the canvas screen in Figure 1 (GIMP 1.3) is not part of the canvas screen in GIMP 1.2.5 (Figure 2).

In GIMP 1.3, some dialogs/palettes are toggled in the same dialog box. If you look at the bottom left dialog box in Figure 1 you should see the brushes dialog/palette. Just above the line Circle (11) (11x11) on that brushes dialog/palette there are five icons; tools, brush, gradient, paint bucket, and layers. You can toggle that dialog/palette to display either the Tool Options, Brush Grid, Gradient List, Pattern Grid, or Layer List dialog/palette by clicking on the appropriate icon.

You can add icons to toggle that bottom left dialog box to display any of the dialogs that are available in the GIMP. Or, you can add icons to toggle any dialog/palette to include any of the other dialogs.

This is a very handy feature of GIMP 1.3. By making one or more such combination dialog/palette boxes, you can keep dialog/palette clutter from creeping all over your monitor screen. That leaves much more room for image canvases.

In Figure 3, on page 2, that bottom-left dialog box from Figure 1 has been resized and icons for many other dialogs/palettes have been added. Figure 3 shows the combination dialog box opened in the Pattern Grid (paint bucket icon) dialog.

Figure 1. Screen shot of GIMP version 1.3 running on SUSE Linux 9.0 and the KDE desktop for Linux. Please see text for an explanation. (Goose photo by Mike Angelo)

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Copyright 2000-2003 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved
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