Time was when the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) was touted as the "killer app" that would drive ordinary desktop users to Linux. A professional image editor whose features rivaled the fabled Adobe Photoshop on Windows that didn't cost several hundred dollars (well, one that didn't cost anything) is just what people need, some analysts thought. It didn't happen exactly that way, but it remains reasonable to say that Linux for the masses wouldn't be here if not for The GIMP.
To learn more about the role of The GIMP and the toolkit that spawned dozens of GUI products, see the section on GNOME in Chapter 6.
Photographers, animators, web designers, and other artists use The GIMP in all sorts of ways. The nonhuman characters in the Scooby Doo movies were created with the help of a GIMP spinoff now called CinePaint.
So what can you do with The GIMP? Just about any photo or other graphic-editing task. The GIMP can import and export more than 30 image formats, including Photoshop's native format. It supports layers (letting you easily add and remove text or other effects from an image) and has all the tools people expect from a modern image editor.
Version 2.2 of The GIMP, released in December 2004, features a more usable interface, better drag-and-drop support, and a shortcut editor.
To run The GIMP from the shell, type gimp &. The ampersand (&) launches The GIMP in the background and returns you to the shell prompt.
Otherwise, The GIMP can be found in the Graphics menu in the KDE or GNOME start menus. The first time you run The GIMP, you'll be asked a few startup configuration questions, but then you're on your way.
When you open The GIMP without an image, you'll see the toolbox first; these icons offer the basic utensils for editing an image. Depending on the version installed on your system, more than 30 tool icons could be available to you in the toolbox.
To create a new image, press Ctrl+N (or go to File, New). To open an existing image for editing, press Ctrl+O and an image window appears. Both the toolbox and the image window have their own menus. Open the File menu in either window to open and save graphics and perform other file-management tasks. The Toolbox
Extensions menu (Xtns) contains the plug-ins and other enhanced functionality that make The GIMP special.
Right-clicking anywhere in an image window also gives you access to a context menu with a wealth of choices to work with your image (see Figure 10.4).
Figure 10.4. Just a hint of the choices you have available when right-clicking in a GIMP image.
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In the right edge of the menu are two important options, Python-fu and Script-fu. Both offer ways to automate tasks and do all sorts of cool things. Script-fu is the original GIMP scripting language, but because it's based on a relatively obscure programming language, Scheme, it's hard to learn. GIMP 2.0 introduced Python-fu, based on the famous (and famously easy to use and learn) Python scripting language.
The GIMP's Help files are quite good. It doesn't hurt for newbies (either to The GIMP or to image editing in general) to read the manual.
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