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March 28, 2004
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Mike Angelo's Digital Darkroom

The GIMP 2.0 for Microsoft Windows - First Look

GIMP is a free digital-photograph and digital-image editing program for the Linux, Mac, Unix, and Windows platforms

Use GIMP rather than Photoshop and save money

Mike Angelo -- 28 March 2004 (C) -- Page 1


Article Index

For more about the Gimp please see our overview of the Gimp article and three Gimp tutorials listed below. These Gimp articles should give you a pretty good feel of Gimp 2.0.

How to Use GIMP for Photo and Image Editing:

#1: Basic Photo editing, cropping, scaling, brightness, and contrast

#2: Intro to layers, text and patterns

#3: Framing Photos and Images

To learn why Linux is so much a better choice than is Microsoft Windows, please see our article Gaël Duval Tells Why Mandrake Linux Is Better Than MS Windows

To learn how to run MS Windows-based software and accessories in GNU-Linux, please see our article Crossover Office 2.1 Runs MS Windows Software on GNU-Linux Systems

The GIMP 2.0 for the Microsoft Windows operating systems is now available. The GIMP developers released the GIMP 2.0 source code on 23 March 2004.

GIMP is an excellent, free, open source, desktop, pixel-based, image manipulation and editing program. You can use it to edit digital photographs and other graphics. Or, you can create stunning digital graphics from scratch with the GIMP.

GIMP pretty much has the same collection of features and functions that Photoshop has. GIMP and Photoshop are similar software products of comparable quality.

We have not had a chance to put the final GIMP 2.0 through its paces yet. However, MozillaQuest Magazine recently published four articles about the GIMP that are based upon GIMP 1.3, an overview and three tutorials. In effect, these four MozillaQuest Magazine articles are an extensive and in-depth preview of GIMP 2.0 -- because GIMP 1.3 is the development version of GIMP 2.0.

In doing the legwork for those articles we found the 1.3 preview versions of GIMP 2.0 to be, well, we found them to be just plain great! That legwork was done running GIMP 1.3 on the SUSE Linux 9.0 Professional desktop.

We just took a very quick look at GIMP 2.0 for MS Windows. So far it looks great too!

Generally, the GIMP developers provide only source code. Then various individuals and organizations compile that source code to provide binaries (executable program files) for an assortment of platforms such as GNU-Linux, Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Unix, and so forth.

In the case of GIMP 2.0 for the Microsoft Windows operating systems, Jernej Simoncic and Tor Lillqvist provided the executable program files for GIMP 2.0. Links to their Web sites from which you can download GIMP 2.0 for MS Windows are in the Resources section at the end of this article.

We downloaded and installed the GTK+ 2 for Windows (version 2.2.4-20040124) and The Gimp for Windows (version 2.0.0) files from Jernej Simoncic's Web site for our review and use of GIMP 2.0 for Windows.

Please note the instruction on Jernej Simoncic's Web site that you must install the GTK+2 toolkit before installing the GIMP 2.0 for Windows. Also please note the instructions there that you must uninstall any previous development version of Gimp 1.3 and 2.0 before installing Gimp 2.0.0 (you can keep Gimp 1.2.5 though).

In effect, GIMP 2.0 is a stable, end-user version of GIMP 1.3, a developer version that has been available for some time now. The previous stable, end-user version is GIMP 1.2.5

GIMP was first released in 1995. Originally, GIMP was a Linux/UNIX program. However, it has been ported to the Apple Macintosh OS X and Microsoft Windows platforms -- that effectively makes GIMP a cross-platform (XP) program.

The GIMP 2.0 New Desktop and Canvas

There are some slight differences in appearance of the GIMP 2.0 graphical user interface (GUI) from the SUSE Linux implementation of it to the MS Windows version. You can see those differences if you look at our GIMP overview and tutorials and compare the screen shots there to the screen shots here.

The most immediately noticeable improvement in GIMP 2.0 over the preceding GIMP 1.x versions is the look and feel of the GIMP, the GIMP user interface.

From the user's point of view, GIMP 2 is fundamentally similar to GIMP 1; features available in the older version are still available in the GIMP 2.0. However, a huge amount of work has led to a complete restructuring of the GIMP internals. The GIMP 2 code base is significantly better organized, more maintainable and more easily extended than was the case for GIMP 1.2 . (About the GIMP, the GIMP Team, March 23 2004, gimp.org)

Another major and noticeable GIMP 2.0 improvement is the Text Tool particularly the capability to edit text layers at later stages of work on an image. (Please see Figure 1, below.)

The big problem with the standard text tool in GIMP 1 was that text could not be modified after it was rendered. An alternate text tool known as Dynamic Text allowed you to create special text layers that could be later edited but this tool was unstable and difficult to use.

The second generation Text tool found in GIMP 2 is an enhanced combination of the old Text tool and the Dynamic Text plug-in. Options from both have been merged and are available in the Tool Options window. These options include settings for font, font size, text color, text justification, anti-aliasing, indentation, and spacing characteristics. (Ibid.)

Upon launch, GIMP 2.0 for Microsoft Windows pops up the GIMP Toolbox with the Toolbox Options dialog docked at the bottom of the Toolbox. (Please see Figure 1, below.)

The selected tool in Figure 1 is the Text Tool. Thus the Text Options dialog box is displayed in the Toolbox Options box at the bottom or Figure 1.

Figure 1. The GIMP Toolbox with the Text Options dialog docked at the bottom of the Toolbox.
In GIMP 2.0, some dialogs/palettes are toggled in the same (combination) dialog box. GIMP 2.0 for MS Windows also starts-up with a combination dialog box and a brushes, patterns, and gradients dialog box docked together. (Please see Figure 2, on page 2.)

The default combination dialog box shown at the top of Figure 2 let's you toggle between the Layers dialog, the Channel dialog, the Paths dialog, and the Undo History dialog. To toggle the dialogs, simply click on the icons just above the word Layers in the Layers dialog shown in Figure 2.

Figure 3 on page 2 shows the Navigation dialog. It's another what's new in GIMP 2.0 that was not in GIMP 1.2. It's very handy and useful.

Not all the dialog boxes or palettes are shown in these figures. However, please notice the overall similarity in look and function of the GIMP and Photoshop collections of tools, dialog boxes, and palettes.

You have lots of user interface and desktop arrangement choices with GIMP 2.0. For example, you can choose to dock some or all of the dialog boxes, put them in combination dialog boxes, or have them opened independently and spread all over your monitor display. Your choice.

You can add icons to toggle that combination dialog box in Figure 2 to display any of the dialogs that are available in the GIMP. Or, you can add icons to toggle any dialog/palette to include any of the other dialogs.

This is a very handy feature of GIMP 2.0. By making one or more such combination dialog/palette boxes, you can keep dialog/palette clutter from creeping all over your monitor screen. That leaves much more room for image canvases.

Another great improvement in GIMP 2.0 from GIMP 1.2 is the photo and image Canvas window. It now has a comprehensive menu bar along the top of the window. This makes drilling down to various tools, features, and functions lots more convenient than it was in GIMP 1.2. (Please see Figure 4, on page 2.)

How these GIMP desktop tool, items, and features work and how to use them is discussed more thoroughly in our recent GIMP overview article and our three recent GIMP tutorials. These articles are based on GIMP 1.3, which is the development version of GIMP 2.0. Thus, they are very applicable to GIMP 2.0.

How to Use GIMP for Photo and Image Editing:

Requirements and Test Equipment

We used MS Windows 98 SE to give GIMP 2.0 for Windows a quick look. It's running on a box with a 750-MHz AMD Duron CPU, Iwill KV200-R motherboard (VIA KT133 chipset) with integrated audio, 384-MB of PC-133 RAM, 100-GB Maxtor D536X hard drive, and 3D-Labs Oxygen XV1 video card in an Antec ATX case.

Incidentally, this article is being written on that same MS Windows 98 SE machine described above. StarOffice Writer is the application being used to do the writing.

The GIMP 2.0 screen shots are being made using the GIMP ' s very own Screen Shot feature (File > Acquire > Screen Shot). Preparation of the screen shots for this article is being done with GIMP 2.0 for Windows running on this same MS Windows 98 SE computer.

We were not able to run GIMP 1.3 or the pre-2.0 GIMP releases on the Windows 98 SE box. However, we were able to run the final GIMP 2.0 for Windows on the Win 98 SE box. Also, GIMP 1.2.5 for Windows runs OK on the Win 98 SE box.

Apparently the GIMP for Windows people no longer support Windows 9.x or Windows ME. So, it's sort of potluck. GIMP 2.0 for Microsoft Windows might run on your MS Windows 9.x or Windows ME computer, or it might not.

It is recommended to use an NT-based version of Windows (NT4, 2000 or XP) for GIMP 2.0. The amount of memory can be an important factor, especially if you intend to work on large images. A minimum of 64 MB of RAM is recommended, but several GB do not hurt. (GIMP for Windows, gimp.org)


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Copyright 2000-2004 -- MozillaQuest -- Brodheadsville, Pa..USA -- All Rights Reserved
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