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Fleeing the Digital Plantation #2 The GIMP

Those of us who imagine we're helping bring a new world into being are obligated wherever possible to confound our betters, to elude the rentiers, to flee the walled gardens and digital plantations of commercial software, and take as many as we can with us.

Before “open source” became a Van Jones buzzword it referred to software that all comers were free not just to use, but to alter in any manner one might find amusing or needful. By contrast, Windows, the Mac OS, Final Cut Pro MS Office, and so on are closed source programs, the “intellectual property” of gigantic, immortal and amoral corporations.

GIMP is an acronym for Gnu Image Manipulation Program. The GIMP is a free, open source software program comparable to Adobe Photoshop. GIMP runs on the Mac OS, as well as Windows and all flavors of Linux. You can download it at

There are things Photoshop can do for it's $700 price tag and enormous memory footprint.... $200 for the discounted student version, that GIMP can't. But not that many, and unless you're a professional graphic artist or studying to be one it's unlikely you'll guess what these are. Most professional graphic artists use Photoshop because it's the industry standard. But many of the same people use GIMP too, and quite a few working artists use it exclusively.

Handy Tweaks to Make GIMP Replace Your Photoshop

For them, and for better than ninety percent of us, the GIMP is at least as good as Photoshop, and free. There are a number of books and scores of good online tutorials including video tutorials. The video above is one of many feature comparisons you can find on GIMP vs Photoshop. As with many open source programs, the finish, compared to the top shelf commercial product, is a little rough and ready. But the number of GIMP add-ons and plug-ins grows every month.

30 Exceptional GIMP Tutorials

More of us are leaving the plantation all the time. The air is better out here. The famous abolitionist and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman used to say she could have freed a lot more slaves, if only they knew that's what they were. Isn't it time you left the digital plantation? How many of you use the GIMP already?

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Submitted by hipparchia on

been using it for a few years now.

i also [heart] photoshop and used it semi-professionally for several years. as long as i kept taking the occasional class at one of the local colleges, i could get it for the student price. i still miss it, and like it better than gimp, but like you say, gimp does keep getting better.

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Submitted by Cujo359 on

One set of tools that anyone who wants to work with photos in GIMP should add to it is FX Foundry., It has simple tools that can be used to adjust contrast, color balance, and other commonly used operations.

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Submitted by propertius on

The problem with GIMP is that it currently only supports 24-bit color depth (8 bits per channel). That just isn't sufficient for photographers whose output medium is more demanding than a computer monitor. Cinepaint (a fork from an old GIMP version originally intended for motion picture CGI use) does support 48-bit color, but it's really slow and buggy (nobody's worked on it for years).

Supposedly, this will be fixed in GIMP 3.0, but I've been waiting years for it at this point.

Submitted by lambert on

This one was a little lost in the madness today, but I appreciate them, and I'm going to beef up my GIMP installation.

Also, I fixed the link at "Handy."