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The best photo editors for Linux in 2022
Photographers typically lean towards Windows or macOS for their editing needs. It’s just the way things work. However, you can buck the trend and turn to Linux with some pretty solid results; you just have to start with the right software.
If you’re ready to switch, here are our picks for the best Linux photo editors. Linux is not as popular as Windows or macOS, so you won’t find the top names like Lightroom or Photoshop. We’ve done our best to include various options to help you get started.
The best photo editors for Linux
Editor’s note: We’ll update this list of the best photo editors for Linux as we test new options and new software launches.
GIMP is considered one of the best photo editors across most platforms. This open-source photo editor is available for all significant platforms and comes with a laundry list of editing features. You’ll have to overcome what can be a steep learning curve, but GIMP can handle most projects that you throw at it. It’s arguably the most advanced editor for Linux, and the only proper Photoshop replacement.
The name GIMP is short for GNU Image Manipulation Program, and this free platform is packed with plenty of extensions. You can customize the program to fit your own needs as long as you have some basic coding knowledge, and you can even dip your toes into animation.
Many Linux photo editors are free. Certainly take advantage of this and experiment until you find one that works for you. Krita is a great option, though it’s more of a painting software than a photo editing one. It comes with a straightforward user interface, so you can get off the ground in no time. Krita even supports a large community forum so you can get help from fellow users or check out tutorials.
Like many free platforms, you can choose to give back a little money to Krita’s creators. The software includes over 100 brushes, and you’ll never have to pay a subscription. Best of all, there are no limits to how many pieces you can create.
Inkscape is another excellent editing platform, though it’s primarily focused on vector graphics rather than photos. You can think of it as a free alternative to Adobe’s Illustrator, and it’s loaded with brushes and other helpful tools. If you find yourself overwhelmed with tools, it’s easy to customize the Inkscape toolbar to only include the options you need.
Like Krita, Inkscape is home to an extensive community and offers plenty of tutorials for you to try out. You can choose to donate money to the developers or contribute bug reports and test new features. Just remember that it may not be your best bet for Linux photo editing.
RawTherapee is another free, open-source photo editor for Linux, though the program welcomes donations to the developers. It’s packed with clever features like color correction and batch processing. Though it’s aimed at RAW file types, the software supports other file types for added flexibility.
If you’re just starting your photo editing journey, RawTherapee may not be for you. It’s for professional photographers, so there aren’t too many tutorials to get you off the ground.
Editing RAW images doesn’t need to be complex, especially with the format becoming so common in modern photography. UFRaw offers a more streamlined and more straightforward way to edit your RAW images on a friendlier interface that’s more straightforward than RawTherapee.
It’s also a very well-supported app, as it can even be used as a GIMP plug-in. It supports a wide variety of cameras, and you can even edit in batches.
The name Darktable comes from a pair of photography staples. It serves as both a light table and a darkroom to keep all of your negatives safe. Darktable takes this two-pronged approach even further as you import and perform basic edits in the light table tab. Once you’re ready to tinker with image quality or use more advanced tools, it’s time to switch to the darkroom side.
Darktable was made for photographers, by photographers, so it follows your workflow and addresses common problems with other software. One of the best parts of Darktable is that it saves all of your edits separately from the original image. You can feel free to edit in a few different styles and choose your favorite without ever losing the first shot.
Pinta is a solid Microsoft Paint-style program that allows you to either create artwork of your own or add on top of other images. It has plenty of tools for you to work with, including filters and a Linux screenshot option. Pinta doesn’t offer support for third-party accessories, so you may have to make the built-in options work for you.
If English isn’t your primary language, Pinta is a great program to try. This Linux photo editor is available in 55 languages, so there’s a good chance you’ll be able to make it work.
LightZone is another digital darkroom for all of your Linux photo editing needs. Like Darktable, it saves edits apart from the original image, so you’ll never lose that first shot. The program will prompt you to select an image style when you first open an edit; however, you can easily combine LightZone’s styles to achieve one of your very own.
Many photo editors rely on layers to edit images, but LightZone uses a stack of tools. You can rearrange this stack at any time to change how the effects appear on your image, or you can easily remove a single tool if needed. The platform’s website was a bit dated at the time of this writing. Luckily, you can download LightZone from GitHub as well.
ShowFOTO is one of the simplest Linux photo editing options on this list to use. Developed as part of DigiKam, the program has since grown into its own platform. Thankfully, it retains many of the same features you know and love. You can even edit the metadata of your images if you feel so inclined.
Learn more: Photography terms you should know of
Overall, ShowFOTO may not be quite as complete as some other programs on the market. However, the lightweight functions and simple interface make it an excellent option for beginners.
Pixeluvo is a lesser-known Photoshop replacement. It can handle much more complex photo editing and manipulation, as well as operate layers. It helps that the user interface looks much more modern than other Linux photo editors.
The only downside to Pixeluvo is that the full version doesn’t come free. The license costs $34, but that’s not much compared to industry-leading photo editing apps, which it does very well against.
Linux apps are great, but photography is becoming more mobile as of late. You can often use a smartphone app for most of your editing needs, and sitting down with a full-fledged desktop app may be a bit much. Take a look at our list of the best photo editors for Android to see if any fit your needs.