A Linux-based Photography Workflow (part 1)

Face Painters

Key: R20101212-142740-levels

This is the first of a set of long-overdue posts that I meant to write quite a while back–about photography tools that run under Linux.  I write this to 1) make a journaled note of what I am using at this point in time, 2) to shed any light on some tools that others in a similar situation may be interested in using, and 3) hopefully, to get some comments and pointers to other promising tools from other Linux users.

I know most photography enthusiasts are either on Macs or Windows (and I own a few Macs myself), but my day gig is doing software  engineering for a telescope, and that means Linux.  Not only for work, but I’ve been a fan going back to 1992 when I first started running it on my 486 pc.  I’ve always appreciated the ethos, sharing and value of open-source software.  Not to mention that frequently the quality, flexibility and stability exceeds that of commercial software. What open-source tools have done for me in general is provide a way to avoid large, bloated, expensive commercial tools from vendors that would like nothing better than to lock you in, and get you on their fee-based upgrade treadmill (Adobe Photoshop, anyone? No flames please–your mileage may vary!)

I am aware that open-source offerings are occasionally not up to the capability or usability of commercial offerings and for those  occasions where I cannot find a reasonable package I either purchase a Linux-based closed-source program (if I can find one) or turn to my Macs. However, my needs are not those of a commercial photographer, and I make no claim that Linux is a reasonable platform for commercial photography.    Currently I use the Mac for dabbling in video and music production, but for photography I have been fortunate to find workable Linux-based tools for most of my needs and in some cases, to craft my own tools.  With that explanation and disclaimers out of the way, lets get on to the tools.  In the rest of this post I will simply itemize the tools I am using, and then in subsequent posts I will expand on them in my workflow by area.  I’ll finish the series with a page of links to possibly useful web sites for Linux-based photographers.

For general photo storage, organization, ingest and viewing:

  • ext and xfs filesystems
  • nautilus
  • gthumb
  • geeqie

For photo editing and conversion:

  • gimp
  • ufraw
  • raw therapee
  • image magick

Book and folios:

  • latex
  • scribus
  • evince

For scanning:

  • vuescan (commercial)

For printing:

  • photoprint
  • turboprint (commercial)

For panoramas:

  • hugin/enfuse

For HDR (High Dynamic Range images):

  • Luminance HDR (formerly “qtpfsgui”)

Web site and archiving:

  • flickr
  • smugmug
  • wordpress


    7 thoughts on “A Linux-based Photography Workflow (part 1)

    1. I haven’t done any photo work or even seriously used Linux in years. Like you I’m a developer, but for Windows, so like you I have ended up using the environment I work with all day. I used to dual boot here at home and use Linux for my photos but when I started shooting RAW back in January 2005 I found that Linux conversion tools were, if not lacking, challenging to use. I heard about RawShooter, a Windows program, tried and liked it so I bought a copy and started using that. Some time later Adobe bought RawShooter and along with other owners of the Pro version I was given a free licence for Lightroom 1. I have kept on upgrading and today use Lightroom 3.3 for 95% of my processing. I can’t see myself moving back to Linux as Windows 7 is great and I still need it for work.

      I must thank you though. Back when I was using Linux, shooting in JPEG and using Gimp, your tutorials were some of the ones that helped me most in learning to become a pretty proficient Gimp user.

    2. Steve, glad to hear you’ve got a workflow that works for you and with which you are comfortable and content. That is the main thing. Glad the tutorials were helpful upon a time.

    3. Hi Steve,
      thanks for sharing this very useful informations. I work in a photographic formation center in a developing country and wanted to build, with the old PCs that’s not used here, some workstation for photo editing for the pupils.
      Having no experience of Linux I’m looking for a distro that will be suitable for installing Gimp and a raw converter.
      Any suggestion?
      (the PCs are celeron and above and I need an interface as user friendly as possible)

    4. Hi,

      Thanks for posting your linux-based workflow, you are being really very helpful.
      May I suggest that you put a link to the next part so its easier to follow?

      Keep up the great work!

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