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 on the market.
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 a variety of 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 major 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.
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 great 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 aimed at professional photographers, so there aren’t too many tutorials to get you off of the ground.
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. Similar to 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 review. Luckily, you can download LightZone from GitHub as well.
ShowFOTO is one of the simplest Linux photo editing options on this list to use. The program, developed as part of DigiKam, 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.
Overall, ShowFOTO may not be quite as complete as some other programs on the market. However, the lightweight functions and simple interface are what make it a great option for beginners.