8 Mar 2012

8 Linux Graphics Apps for Just About Everything

One of the remarkable benefits of using Linux operating systems is that there is a plethora of free and open source software to accompany them. Most Linux distributions come with many free software packages, and you can always install more anytime you want.
For Linux desktop users, there are plenty of graphics programs from which to choose. The following list does not cover all of them. Instead, it highlights one graphics tool from each type.

1. Gimp

Even if you are not familiar with Linux, you have probably heard of or even used Gimp on Windows. While people will always make comparisons with Photoshop and even criticisms about it not being similar to it, Gimp is its own program and quite capable of being a powerful raster graphics editor all on its own. With an expandable set of brushes, support for multiple layers, graphics tablet functionality, and a ton of effects, Gimp is a complete photo and image editing tool.

2. Krita

Krita may appear on the surface to simply be KDE’s answer to Gimp, but it is much more than that. It is best described as a digital painting or illustration program rather than an image or photo editor. It has powerful painting tools, support for CMYK color mode, filter brushes, vector and bitmap art merging, and much more. Like Gimp, Krita supports graphics tablets and comes with a wide variety of effects.

3. Pinta

Sometimes simplicity is the most important thing a program can provide. Pinta is a simple paint and image editing program modeled on the success of Paint.Net for Windows. Pinta is a completely free and open source alternative that gets the job done with as little as possible. Nevertheless, it supports layers, has numerous effects, and allows you to save in any of the popular image formats.

4. DigiKam

This is perhaps the mother of all photo management applications. DigiKam, another KDE project, manages all the photos in the folders you specify and allows you to organize them however you see fit. It has tons of features, editing effects, renaming tools, slideshow and gallery creation, social media and cloud photo uploading, digital camera downloading, and many other features amateur and professional photographers need.

5. Inkscape

Inkscape is a vector graphics editor. In other words, the things you create on the canvas are more like objects. You can move, resize, or even rotate them with ease. If you prefer drawing with shapes or need to create scalable vector graphics (SVG), Inkscape is one of the best options out there. From the simplest charts to the most complex vector drawings, Inkscape can handle it all.

6. Geeqie

When you simply need to view images, Geeqie is one of the most feature-rich options I have seen on any platform. With features like enhancing image quality and even the ability to write metadata, Geeqie is much more than a basic image viewer. With all of its features, it still manages to be fast and lightweight, ideal for quickly viewing images on your computer or removable media.

7. Cheese

We all want to look our best, and so we say “cheese” when people snap photos of us. This program is a simple photo booth tool that turns on your webcam as soon as you start it. Complete with a timer and optional “flash”, Cheese is a handy little tool for those quick social media snapshots. It also has several silly effects you can apply to your photos.

8. Ksnapshot

This small KDE tool is one of the best screenshot tools I have come across. It is quick, easy, and can even be mapped to a shortcut key, such as Print Screen, for easy access. Ksnapshot can take screenshots of your entire desktop, both of your dual screens, a single window, a single section of a window, or a selected region on the screen. It even has a timer so that you can, for example, open a menu and highlight a particular item before it takes the snapshot.

According to UK managed server company 34SP.com, there are tens of other graphics programs available for Linux in each one of the categories covered by the aforementioned apps. You can find most of them in your distribution’s repository. Others may be a little more obscure and require some digging, but they will be well worth the effort.

Tavis J. Hampton is an advocate of free and open source software and dedicates most of his writing to the cause. You can read more of his writing at TavisOnline.com.


  1. I would also add to this KolourPaint: it is like Microsoft Paint on the surface, in that it can edit images and create silly drawings very simply, but it has many more features that you'll wonder how you lived without in Microsoft Paint, yet the interface is kept simple and not overwhelming (unlike some other KDE applications I know).
    a Linux Mint user since 2009 May 1

  2. And what about Kiconedit.
    You Never wanted to edit your icons ??

  3. Gimp is without a doubt my favorite editor - it's a pretty steep learning curve, but well worth the effort. It's not quite as good at automatic adjustments like red-eye removal or white balance as Adobe, but it gets almost any job done. I also use Snapshot and Digikam almost every day.

    I'll have to try Kiconedit, see if that works to edit website icons.

  4. Thanks to all the commenters...
    Appreciate your advice!

    As post says: " The following list does not cover all of them."

  5. Hi,
    Don't forget about Blender for 3D Graphics, VFX, Animations, etc.

  6. Ahhh... Digikam?? Gwenview???

  7. From my experience, shutter is a pretty decent tool for screenshots, too :)

  8. GIMP and Inkscape are my favorites of the bunch. My children use both of them pretty frequently for school presentations, projects, reports, etc. (4th, 7th, and 10th grade). So they made it up the learning curve :)