Ah, the holidays. For me, the holidays are about getting stuff: getting fat, getting happy and getting lots of good pictures of your adorable nieces and nephews to embarrass them with when they become teenagers. But now that you’re on Ubuntu, what program should you use to manage the
evidence pictures? Well, here is my review of some of the more popular (and free!) offerings available to Ubuntu users.
Image Viewer is the stock application used for pictures. It does not need to be installed since it comes with Ubuntu. This is useful for very simple picture needs, such as opening and rotating images. However, you do not have the option to create photo albums, crop images, sharpen them, view location data, share to social media or any other of the more modern and expected features of a photo managing application. Indeed, if they intended these features to be in the program they probably would have called it “Image Editor” or something right?
The next program i tried was called fotoxx. From the name, you can’t tell whether it is a viewer or editor, but let me tell you…..man this program has all sorts of features! Tags? You got it. Retouch/sharpen/blur/red eye/white balance? Yup. Transformations? Better than Instagram.
Speaking of Instagram, fotoxx doesn’t seem to have any sort of “Share to Social Media” options though. In my opinion, it is far more convenient to have Facebook integration, for instance, than exporting a photo and uploading it manually. Sure, it is possible, and up to a few short years ago that’s how we all had to do it. But given the option of two similar programs, I would obviously lean towards the one with the integration. How else are people gonna know what food I’m eating today???
Also, although fotoxx is pretty feature packed, the GUI (Graphical User Interface, for the noobs) is very clunky and limited. Just about everything is stashed up in the menu bar, and the gallery browser is probably the ugliest thing I have seen since Skype 5.0 (you know you hate it too).
Where fotoxx seemed to do really well at photo editing but lacked decent photo management, Shotwell is the complete opposite. It has basic editing features such as crop/red eye/etc, but doesn’t have any of the filters and transformations to that you might want. However, Shotwell fills in all the gaps that fotoxx missed: great GUI, fantastic galleries/albums, and built in camera import features.
If you are familiar with iPhoto on Mac OSX, this program looks EXACTLY LIKE IT. I really hope Apple doesn’t sue them. Don’t they have enough money by now? Anyways, Shotwell also has social media sharing capabilities including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Tumbler and YouTube.
Darktable 1.1 seems to be a bit more advanced than what you might be used to. It doesn’t really manage photo albums or anything, and it doesn’t have any crazy transformations. It is basically just for correcting/tweaking color balance, saturation, contrast and such. It’s probably very powerful and useful but to be honest, I feel out of my league in Darktable. I’m not a very knowledgeable photographer and when I’m in this sort of situation I pretty much just move values around until things start looking cool.
I do have to say though that Darktable has a very cool GUI! I love the all-black look. If you notice, on every side of the screen there is a little grey triangle which you can click and it will slide the tray in or out allowing you to customize the amount of information shown on the HUD (Heads Up Display, noobs).
When managing your photos on Ubuntu, there might seem like there are many choices. Rejoice! They are all free, and each one fills in the gaps of the rest. If you’re downloading memes from the internet just to look at them, Image Viewer looks great. If you want to tweak them, check out fotoxx. Store them all and sort them with Shotwell.