image-editing software is as rare as a Gnu's tooth,
but you can find out all about this sophisticated UNIX-based
program at: www.gimp.org/the_gimp.html.
Photos © 1999, The GIMP Homepage, All Rights Reserved
How would you like to get
a really good image manipulation program for free? I'm not talking
about the ubiquitous Mac OS freeware program, NIH Image 1.61, that can
be downloaded from www.shareware.com
and other shareware sites. NIH sports an interface that only a techie
could love, and while its capabilities won't keep the engineers
at Adobe Systems up all night worrying, the price is right. Of course
it wasn't really free, our tax dollars supporting the National
Institute of Health paid for NIH Image. No, the free image manipulation
program I'm talking about carries the politically incorrect title
of The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). This turns out to be an
acronym within an acronym. GNU stand for "GNU's Not Unix"--I'm
not making this up. The General Public License under which The GIMP
was released was developed by the Free Software Foundation and more
information about it can be found in the section "It's Gnus
to Me" or on their homepage located at: www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html.
Written by Peter Mattis and Spencer Kimball, The GIMP is designed for
photo retouching, image composition and image creation. Instead of the
Mac OS or Windows environments most of us are familiar with, The GIMP
runs under the UNIX or Linux (Linus UNIX, named after its originator
Linus Torvalds) operating systems. In case you didn't already
know, even Adobe's Photoshop is available in a UNIX version. The
GIMP Homepage contains information about downloading, installing, using,
and enhancing the program as well as serving as a distribution point
for the latest releases, patches, plug-ins, and scripts. In addition,
the site provides information about The GIMP community and related subjects.
does the GIMP's interface look like? Here's
one example, but keep in mind that Linux and the GIMP are
completely customizable. So much so that The GIMP running
on my computer might look completely different from another
user's. The Photoshop like tool palette is a constant,
but anything goes for the rest.
A recent version of this program
is included with Caldera System's OpenLinux 2.2, which also bundles
Linux versions of Netscape Navigator, Corel WordPerfect and other programs
along with a copy of Linux itself. Using OpenLinux, a copy of the Linux
OS can be installed on your computer and peacefully co-exist with Windows
so that when you start your system, you can choose which one you want
to launch--Windows or Linux. If you are a tinkerer and want to experience
some of the pioneering spirit that seems lacking in contemporary computing,
pick up a copy of OpenLinux 2.2 (it only costs $49.99) and start running
two different operating systems on your Windows computer. For more information,
There's also a Mac OS version, called LinuxPPC, that will let you
run The GIMP on your Power Macintosh (www.linuxppc.org).
Penguins And Foxes And Gnus. You can download the latest version of The
GIMP (1.04 as I write this) as well as a developer's version (currently
1.16) from the Homepage at: www.gimp.org/the_gimp.html
FTP (File Transfer Protocol) download sites are shown all over the world,
but there's more to this Web Site of the Month, than just a place
to download a really cool graphics program.
The first thing you'll notice is a thermometer-like graphic that
displays all the sections of the site and allows you to move back and
forth between pages instead of using your browser's controls. The
first part of The Gimp Homepage contains an introduction to the program,
system requirements, sample screenshots, and basic information about the
site's organization. Moving down the "thermometer" you'll
find complete documentation including a User Manual in Adobe's PDF
(Portable Document Format). If you don't already have Acrobat Reader
3.01 which lets you read PDF files, you can download a free copy from
The GIMP supports plug-ins and the site includes all of the information
a developer needs to create what must certainly be a non-Photoshop compatible
plug-in. With the increase in popularity of the Linux operating system,
I hope companies such as Alien Skin Software and Extensis port some of
their plug-ins to The GIMP. There is supposed to be a section showing
"before and after" plug images, but that part of the site
was not fully active when I last visited.
you visit this Web site of the Month, you can visit the
Gallery to view artwork and images produced using the GIMP,
including the world famous Linux penguin created by Larry
A Resources page contains the
kinds of ancillary files a good image manipulation program needs, including
collections of patterns, brushes, gradients, and fonts that can be loaded
into The GIMP's tool palettes. In lieu of Actions ala Photoshop,
this program uses "scripts" and there are plenty of different
ones available for downloading to extend its capabilities. Something you
won't find in Photoshop, and most other image editing programs,
are tool and control palettes than can be truly customized. This part
of the site has links to an ftp site where you can download a large collection
of interface goodies. The Resource section also offers a collection of
fonts, including free versions of 35 standard Post-Script typefaces.
The GIMP Homepage has a section featuring a gallery of artwork created
with the program, a Script of the Month section, a semi-monthly contest
for the GIMP-produced artwork, and a collection of "Made by GIMP"
logos. The Gallery includes Larry Ewing's Linux famous penguin along
with a link to Larry's Penguin Page for details on how it was created.
This penguin is widely associated with the Linux movement and has become
Finally, there's the Important Links section offering many different
hyperlinks to GIMP related sites, including: a mammoth Plug-in Registry,
which is the place to check for the latest GIMP Plug ins; Everybody Loves
the GIMP (what more can you say?); and a Frequently Asked Question site
Also included are links to galleries, web sites that discuss image file
formats, and even links to homepages about other image manipulation programs.
The Webmaster has even written a brief summary for every link so you don't
have to waste time surfing over to something that might not be exactly
what you are looking for.
There are always some warnings with any open source program. For example,
if you take the time to read the Compilation and Installation section
of the web site, you may be surprised to learn that you need a C compiler
and related tools to compile and install the source package. The program
also makes use of the GIMP Toolkit or GTK that can also be downloaded
from the site. If all this downloading and compiling doesn't appeal
to you, visit one of the "Important Links" at the WilberWorks
This company offers a commercial (non-download) version of the GIMP bundled
with an assortment of useful fonts, patterns, and brushes along with online
documentation for just $15 plus $3 shipping. Wilber, by the way, is the
name of the fox-like critter that's The GIMP's own mascot.
Linux, like all operating systems, desperately needs a "killer app"
that will drive people to the OS. Given a little time and development,
the GIMP just might just be it.
To find potential Web Sites of the Month, I use Macintosh and Win-dows
computers with 56K internal modems. My Internet Service Provider is CompuServe
Information Systems and I use the latest version of Netscape Navigator
to seek out new web sites and go where no surfer has gone before. If you'd
like to nominate your own homepage or a favorite web site, e-mail me at:
It's Gnus To
The GNU General
Public License applies to most of the Free Software Foundation's
applications and any other program whose authors commit to using it. The
Foundation's General Public License is designed to make sure software
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use pieces of it in new, free programs. To protect the original creators,
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