A Tempest in a Nostalgic Teapot

Apparently a decision was made last week, at least according to omg!ubuntu!

Apparently a decision was made last week, at least according to omg!ubuntu!, to remove the GIMP image editing software from the next Ubuntu release (10.04, Lucid Lynx). This has produced dramatically different reactions in various parts of the Linux community, ranging from "Huh?" (or "Yawn") from a significant number of users who have never seen, heard of or used it, through "It's about time" from a fair number of users who have tried it, either on purpose or by accidentally stumbling across it, to "Oh NO!" from many of the most experienced Linux users, who remember the GIMP as being the first real "killer app" for desktop Linux systems.

This decision doesn't bother me personally, first because the few times I have tried to use GIMP I was totally intimidated by it, and second because I have so many different Linux distributions loaded on so many different computers that I never know whether it is going to be installed on whatever I am using at any given time. In that spirit, and because I hate rehashing a bunch of pro/con arguments that are already spreading across the net, I will present here a list of distributions and information about whether they include GIMP and what alternatives they include - all within the base distribution, of course.

Ubuntu 9.04 - GIMP, F-Spot Photo Manager and Eye of Gnome

Mandriva 2010.0 - GIMP and Gwenview

openSuSE 11.2 - GIMP, Gwenview, digiKam and showFoto

Fedora 12 - gThumb and Eye of Gnome

Linux Mint 8 (Helena) - GIMP, gThumb and Eye of Gnome

Zenwalk Linux 6.2 - GIMP and gThumb

SimplyMEPIS 8.0.12 - Gwenview, digiKam and showFoto

PCLinuxOS 2009.2 - GIMP, digiKam, showFoto and GQview

So Ubuntu will obviously not be the first to omit GIMP from the base distribution. Even on my limited sample, Fedora and MEPIS have both already done so. Note, also, that this list includes only what has been installed on my systems from the "standard" LiveCD distributions. This will obviously vary depending on whether you install the Gnome, KDE or whatever other distribution. Ubuntu actually provides a good example of this, because the Ubuntu Netbook Remix, which is still Gnome-based, does not include GIMP, and the Ubuntu KDE Netbook distribution also does not include GIMP, but includes Gwenview rather than F-spot.

It is important to remember that Ubuntu is not going to be banishing the GIMP entirely, it will simply not be in the default installation. It will certainly be available through the Software Center, or Synaptic, or Package Manager, or whatever such utility. It seems to me that anyone who is sufficiently competent and experienced to be using GIMP should certainly be capable of getting it installed via whatever software/package manager is available.

jw 23/11/2009