Over the years, I have struggled with the variety of digital image tools provided with default installations of Ubuntu. I never liked image viewers that wouldn’t show me thumbnails of all the pictures in a given folder, or those that did not give me quick access to a simple editor in order to crop an image or make a slight change to its brightness. And, I simply hated photo managers that insisted on arranging my pictures chronologically, rather than having one folder hold all the pictures from a specific trip.
In fact, the only reason that I didn’t undertake a systematic search for an appropriate alternative was that – horrors – Zoner Photo Studio Free (http://opcug.ca/public/Reviews/zoner.htm), in the (dual-boot) Windows’ world, provided everything I needed. However, I recently came across gThumb, a Gnome-based image viewer developed by Paolo Bacchilega, and found that this was my new Linux tool of choice.
Interestingly, this all came about after I read a glowing review of Mint 14 with the Cinnamon user interface (http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2012/11/linux-mint-14-with-cinnamon-desktop-review). I downloaded Mint and installed it on a bootable USB memory stick. In trying out this distro, I discovered that Mint’s default image viewer is gThumb. I liked my “preview” of this package so much I decided to install it on my production Ubuntu system.
The basic image viewer shows thumbnails of all the images in a selected folder, together with a tree directory of available folders in the left sidebar. The size of the thumbnails, and the information displayed alongside each (e.g. file name), are configurable. Similarly, double-clicking on a specific image can be set to display the image so as to fill program’s window. Icons are available to show an extensive list of the image’s properties, or to open an image editor in order to modify the actual image. While the available editing tools are not exhaustive, many useful items are provided, including brightness, contrast and colour adjustment; image cropping, resizing and rotation; and red-eye removal.
Images can be downloaded from a digital camera although, in my view, this process isn’t perfect. While a folder can be specified to hold all of the downloaded images, the program still creates a sub-folder, named with the current date and time, and places all of the images inside this sub-folder. However, it’s now a simple matter to transfer all of the downloaded files into a specific folder of the user’s choice. This is certainly much easier than having to combine files from multiple “days” into a single, user-defined folder.
The program has a multitude of other features including the ability to create slideshows; to export photographs to social-media sites or web-based photo-albums; burn them to optical disks; or to print contact sheets. Many of these options are provided as plug-in extensions and additional features are available through this mechanism.
The program is highly configurable simply by editing a “preferences” menu. For example, one really useful feature, where screen real-estate is at a premium, is to change the location for the group of thumbnails that is displayed in the image viewer. By default, these thumbnails are shown across the bottom of the window; however, this severely restricts the height – and hence the overall size – at which the image selected is displayed. Switching the location to be “on the side” easily resolves this issue.
So, for my way of working with digital images, gThumb is certainly a keeper!