5 of the Best Image Editing Software For Linux

Most people don’t think of Linux as a great platform for image editing and digital art, but even though Adobe has never ported any of their Creative Suite to Linux, it’s still a capable operating system for creating digital artwork and working with images.

These five tools provide artists and photographers with strong open-source alternatives to the expensive industry-standard tools on Linux. They’re all free, well documented, and actively developed by the open-source community.

create and edit photos on Linux with GIMP

GIMP has long been the standard go-to solution for photo editing in Linux. It is a multipurpose image manipulation program that aims to be somewhat of an equivalent to Photoshop.

GIMP isn’t Photoshop, though. For better or worse, it’s much simpler than that. Professionals might find it limiting, but casual users will probably find GIMP easier to pick up and get started. They’ll also probably never reach the upper limit of GIMP’s capabilities.

GIMP is a great option for editing and manipulating photos. It has plenty of options for carving up, altering, and rearranging an image.

GIMP is extensible with Python. You can find scripts online, or you can write your own. This scripting potential brings entirely new levels of control to GIMP power users.

When it comes to file formats, GIMP can handle nearly anything. It is fully capable of working with PSD files from Photoshop, and it can export into all major image formats and many lesser-known ones too.

Krita is the best digital painting program for Linux

Krita is the ultimate digital painting program. It allows artists to create art how they choose, either with their own hand and a tablet or by using the mouse and keyboard.

Krita is part of the KDE Project, but it has grown to be much more than that. It can easily challenge its proprietary competitors in the digital painting space.

Development of Krita has intensified over the past few years and only continues to pick up more momentum, so expect Krita’s already-rich tool kit to continue to grow and deepen.

Krita supports PSD, and it can open a load of different formats including high-resolution raw images. It can export to JPG, PNG, and GIF.

Create vector graphics with Inkscape on Linux

Inkscape is a powerful vector graphics tool that’s excellent for creating digital graphics and logos.

It features multiple ways to draw your graphics. Of course, it has a path tool and a freehand drawing pencil. It also has pre-defined shape tools and text. This unassuming program also allows you to import existing images and convert them to vector graphics.

You can also expect full anti-aliased rendering from Inkscape, along with transparency in images.

The main file type that Inkscape is built to handle is SVG, but it can also work with PDF, PNG, PostScript, and several more.

Work with Raw images with Raw Therapee on Linux

Raw Therapee was created for photographers working with raw images. Among photographers, raw photos are popular because they are uncompressed and as unaltered digitally as possible.

This utility provides tools for photographers to edit their raw photographs by tweaking colors, sharpening focus, and cleaning up visual artifacts.

Raw Therapee provides multi-threaded performance and takes advantage of modern CPU features to accelerate high-resolution image processing. It can export JPG, PNG, and TIFF images.

Process and organize high res photos with Darktable on Linux

Darktable is another utility geared towards photographers. One of the big selling points behind Darktable is its ability to edit photos without destroying or damaging the originals. Darktable also features GPU acceleration.

Darktable was built to handle raw images as well as other popular formats like JPG. It can export in a variety of encodings including JPG, PNG, and TIFF.

Darktable has powerful editing options. It supports image correction and color adjustments. It’s capable of resolving many imperfections and abnormalities common in digital photography. Darktable includes a range of post-processing options for filtering and modifying your photos, too.

It’s not really possible to rank these programs because they all serve very different functions. They’re all great utilities to have in your arsenal.

10 comments

  1. I think it’s worth mentioning about Inkscape it has powerful SVG editing abilities, maybe the best of all SVG editing software. With Inkscape it’s easy to create powerful, interactive SVG graphics ready to use on modern web browsers.

  2. Just a minor point, RawTherapee is also a non-destructive editor, like DarkTable, so it’s not quite fair to mention that feature for one and not the other.

  3. Anyone who starts with GIMP in a list like this clearly had poor experience with graphic apps. If you only use free tools than you limit you’re creativity. Stop being such a cheap arse and get real software

  4. These are all fine and good for content creation, but not so much manipulation. Especially for the ‘casual user’, like myself. I, like many, started out on Windows many Moons ago, in a galaxy far, far away. I ‘outgrew’ Paint in about 60-90 days, and moved on to Paint.Net for making my memes. With my switch to Linux, I found that Gimp, which everyone talked about, was far too complex for simple little tasks, like slapping a few layers, some with transparency, together and just adding a bit of text. But, these ones listed seem like they’re more for photographers, than smart-arses like me! Me? I finally found JUST what I was looking for in Pinta! It’s in Gtk, and runs great even in my nine year old lappie, running Lubuntu! (Quote Follows) — ” Pinta is an open-source, cross-platform bitmap image drawing and editing program inspired by Paint.NET, a similar image editing program which is limited to Microsoft Windows.[2] Pinta has more features than Microsoft Paint. Compared with open-source image editor GIMP,[3] Pinta is simpler and has fewer features.” — https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinta_(software)

  5. Using WINE I’ve used PhotoFiltre for years…simple to use with everything any normal person needs to process photos.

  6. Having been a Picasa user, and done well from it, now involved with Linux, have somewhat lost my way a little. Do some photography and enjoy fiddling with prints. What Linux program is similar to Picasa ?
    Geoff.

  7. I would agree that these are all fine applications. I also agree that, to make a fair comparison, it should be mentioned that RawTherapee is non-destructive. IMO, the most glaring omission is the failure to point out the feature that distinguishes darktable from all other RAW converters (except for Lightzone, which is not included on this list). With darktable, you can use masks (drawn or parametric) to confine your adjustments to specific areas of the image. In a high contrast scene, you can restrain areas that are too light (or too dark) to keep them within acceptable ranges.

    Lightroom does not offer this ability. I also have long admired Lightzone for its use of the zone system approach. darktable actually has a module that offers this same functionality. All of these adjustments are performed on the RAW file at 32 bit floating point precision.

    I love and am a long time user of Gimp. I also have the PS/LR cc subscription. However, if I were limited to just one piece of software with which to edit/manipulate my photos, the choice for me would be darktable.

    Respectfully,
    John

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