What is good photo editing software for Linux

Photo editing software is often used by professional photographers as well as amateur shooters to add various enhancements to pictures taken with a camera. Especially with the growing popularity of digital photography nowadays, a good photo editor is almost a necessity if you are into photography.

In this post, I will cover popular photo editing software tools on Linux. All listed photo editing programs are free for use, and yet boast of comprehensive and powerful retouch, repair, transformation and metadata functions expected by serious photographers. Besides such commonly available photo editing functions, they also have some other notable features which I mention in the list.


  • Fully non-destructive editing on photo image data
  • Export to Picasa Web Albums, Flickr, and standalone HTML
  • GPU acceleration via OpenCL
  • Tethered camera shooting
  • Darktable official website


  • On-the-fly auto-transformations during picture downloading
  • Extendable image processing plugins via Kipi (KDE Image Plugin Interface)
  • Support for face detection and recognition
  • Support for image versioning
  • digiKam official website


  • Handy thumbnail browser with multiple thumbnail sizes
  • Batch functions for renaming and tagging
  • Support for HDR panorama stitching and processing
  • Fotoxx official website


  • Support for more than a dozen image formats and vendor-specific RAW formats
  • Export to Flickr, Picasa Web Albums, Facebook, standalone HTML and CD
  • F-Spot official website


  • Customizable modular interface
  • Support for various input hardware controller (e.g., USB/mouse wheel, keyboard, tablet) to speed up workflow actions
  • Gimp official website


  • Non-destructive 16-bit processing
  • Integration with GIMP's workflow mechanism (e.g., import from Photivo and export to Photivo via plugin)
  • Photivo official website


  • RAW image processing program with 32-bit floating point processing engine
  • Tethered camera shooting
  • Export to GIMP
  • Batch uploading for Picasa Web Albums, Flickr and Facebook.
  • Automatic photo improvements (e.g., dead/stuck pixel removal) and lens correction
  • Rawstudio official website


  • RAW image processing program specializing in RAW image formats from digital cameras
  • 32-bit floating point processing engine
  • RawTherapee official website


  • Dynamically extended functionality via plugins
  • Photo organizer interface with photo versioning
  • Export to Flickr, Facebook and Picasa Web Albums
  • Shotwell official website


  • RAW image processing program specializing in RAW image formats from digital cameras
  • Available as both standalone program and GIMP plugin
  • Comes with command line batch processing utility
  • UFRaw official website

If you have tried any of the software tools in the list, feel free to share your experience here. Also, if there is any missing photo editing software that you think needs to be included in the list, suggest it via comments.

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Dan Nanni is the founder and also a regular contributor of Xmodulo.com. He is a Linux/FOSS enthusiast who loves to get his hands dirty with his Linux box. He likes to procrastinate when he is supposed to be busy and productive. When he is otherwise free, he likes to watch movies and shop for the coolest gadgets.

32 thoughts on “What is good photo editing software for Linux

  1. I have used all of the above. Gimp is my main 'IMP' with the ufraw plugin. I also find RawTherapee useful.

    The two others that I use which you do not mention are XnConvert for batching and the newly re-released Lightzone. Both available as .deb files for ubuntu and debian distros.

    • I also use GIMP/UFRaw and Rawtherapee. On dual booting Windows, it's important that both have good Windows versions with consistent file storage and user interfaces. All of these take a while to learn. Looking for a fast, lightweight viewer/editor in Linux that handles RAW like Faststone for Windows. F-Spot looks interesting.

  2. Darktable is cool but takes some getting used to. For amateur photographers who need a bit of color correction and maybe some cropping for hard copy printing Digikam is an awesome photo manager and photo editor in one. I always make sure to have Digikam handy no matter what desktop environment I am using.

    • Where is Corel Aftershot Pro going to be in a year???? I use it for my pictures as my main raw workflow. But Corel fired the Bibble staff, and updates and communication have almost dropped off the planet except for finally more cameras were added last month.

      I don't see Corel advertises Aftershot Pro, but they have announced Aftershot Pro 2.

      • I also question Aftershot Pro's future, but unfortunately it is currently the best option for professional photo management and RAW editing in Linux. It has layers and selective editing (local adjustments) which darktable doesn't.

  3. I don't use Gimp for the same reasons I don't use Photoshop; far too esoteric and convoluted.

    I need something like Corel Paintshop Pro, with lots of auto-enhancing tools. Incidently, my copy of Paintshop Pro X5 on Windows 7 refuses to load in Wine at all for me.

    If I could find suitable replacements for Paintshop Pro and Videostudio Pro, I could finally ditch Microshaft for good.

    • "Pro" implies abilities, and not just automation. Time is the issue, and we don't need to edit all photo. I'm not saying to shoot JPEG (or not); but you can shoot Raw, and pull the well set JPEG's right out of the Raw only file with...

      dcraw -e *

      ...set (as a right click function) in your preferred file manager. it's instant, and not developing.

      Time savings requires we only edit a few photos, per shoot; for various reasons.

      1. Is there a light/color issues, and where 16 bit Raw developing can give you the required, somewhat greater, maximum (camera dependent) latitude. Do you need to limit JPEG artifacts, for your particular camera? Do you want to do your own NR(later in Gimp), and lens CA removal(Gimp), and distortion correction (also Gimp). Then start, with Raw.. I recommend ufraw, for those, and as a plug-in(of many) to Gimp. Meaning, install ufraw/Gimp package; that gives a smooth transition. You must read through the ufraw web site, and be patient with ufraw's not so hand-holding, numerous options. Most of them stay at default, or are better done in the Gimp. You must learn the preferred curve wiggling ways, if you are a post editor. You must set your ufraw (color profile) up per camera, first. See the site.

      Gimp can't be beat, for doing nearly anything. People miss; that many automated processes/treatments, reside within all the good Gimp menu choices. Don't forget all the Gimp plug-ins! Yes, you have to wade through the power; but what would you say, if it didn't have the particular thing you wanted to do. You can use Gimp, many different ways; but I use it; because it's all there. I can effect any look, with it. There nothing say, Nikon editors do, that you can't effect, with ufraw and/or the gimp. Remember, ufraw is for when you (kinda) messed up, with your settings, during the shoot. Plus, you can effectively do you own "D-lighting" custom, to the hilt, with it. Just as you can save different camera color profiles, you can save "D-lighting"-like curves (local contrasts) too! Whether 2, or 20.

      If I want a work file, for later work, I just save as a no-loss compressed PNG file; but I delete these eventually; because I always have my untouched Raw only original keepers, and their built-in JPEG's. It's that easy, with ufraw, (or just the JPEG's) to start over, if more editing is needed. I completely eliminated catalog helll, that way. Oh, and I love how Gimp ("export" now) automatically picks the best (variable) compression size, for final, refinished (downsized res?), JPEG's.

      You can still use DigiKam, for example; for things like face recognition, and other tagging, and such.

    • Edd, I had the same problems with GIMP et al.

      I moved to Fotoxx - a smaller and easier photo editor and photo collection manager that still empowers me with a large assortment of powerful tools. I think you'll like it, too.

      Be sure to get the current version, not the older ones that have been available via the Ubuntu Software Center and other repositories. See my separate post here, on September 3rd.

  4. Darktable is a fantastic piece of software and still improving. It is one of the main components in our workflow both in the studio for tethered shooting and for non-tethered shooting elsewhere.
    gimp is another part of that workflow for when a photo requires more extensive retouching.

    I will add that rapid-photo-downloader, kphotoalbum, hugin and luminance-hdr make up the rest of the software pieces. kphotoalbum is really worth a look if you want to be able to find your photos again as your collections grow.

    If you have time, why not check out our galleries :)

  5. Fotoxx has been my favorite for years, and it's what I recommend to nearly every client and FOSS User Group member. It offers easy and powerful photo editing, photo collections
    management, and good documentation. It's lightweight for the computer and for the user. Plus, it adds at least one new feature every month! Best of all, its author is responsive to all good suggestions.

    A word of warning: Ubuntu Software Center has offered very obsolete versions of Fotoxx, which have caused poor (and obviously casual) reviews. Avoid that error; download the latest Fotoxx package for your Linux, at:

    While you're there, check out its documentation (at least the introductory part) and its various video tutorials!

    --Dick Miller, Miller Microcomputer Services

  6. For the heavy work I use GIMP, and for RAW I move about a bit. I have used RawTherapee, Darktable, and Ufraw etc. Most recently I used Rawstudio and didn't mind it. For batch processing for image size I recently gave "PHatch Phote Batch porcessor" a try. It is pretty simple and did the job. It's a bit quircky but once I worked out what to do it was okay.

  7. PhotoFiltre is easy to use and can be used through WINE, although there is also a newly released native Linux version. Simple to use, without all the geekish bullshit that seems to come with most applications.

  8. For my photography work I use DarkTable + Geeqie for most of the viewing and picking the best shots, but normally I edit the images in GIMP with the single window interface.

  9. GIMP - Gnu Image Manipulation Program. If you have any experience with Photoshop, you should be able to use GIMP fairly effectively.

    • I've found that the sweet spot for using GIMP from Photoshop is when you know what the tool is called and how to use it, but don't have a clue where to find it in Photoshop. GIMP has almost everything you need, but long time Photoshop users will be annoyed when they get lost in the interface because it's not exactly the same as Photoshop (nor should it be).

      • Coming from the view of having used gimp for years then moved to PS, I can add some light to this. It's not just the interface that is different, but there is a massive difference in the power between the two. Not just that but PS has a lot of nice features that GIMP does not have.

      • for most of my photos the things I want to edit are, levels, colours, CA, noise reduction and cropping. The raw editors are far more useful than GIMP for this. GIMP is better if you need to selectively edit parts, compose multiple photos or paint.

        • I just feel that RAW editors photos seem too specialized to be lumped in with regular photo editors, which edit mostly JPEG, because you really can't do as much with JPEG than with RAW without bringing out some artifacts.

  10. Photoshop in wine. yeah, I know, stupid answer. But it works best for me for everything I can't do in the RAW converter.

    • GIMP and GimpShop are in no way comparable to Photoshop. It is like comparing apples and oranges. This is one of the few gaping holes in the Linux software market atm.

  11. If you happen to be looking for a super simple editor (to draw a circle around a screen grab or such), I've liked Pinta.

  12. I find GIMP kinda... big though. Not big as in bloated, but it doesn't really fit into the other tools I use daily. I'd really like a CLI general photo manipulation program, that obviously isn't mouse-oriented. My dream would be a program with the features of Photoshop, in terminal, with an ncurses interface and VI handling. That's just a dream though. Terminals don't really handle images that good.

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