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Why Gimp isn’t for me

OK, I recently began dualbooting Ubuntu Linux and Windows XP, using Wubi (a program which allows me to install Ubuntu in windows XP, and boot from a file rather than from a whole partition – thereby saving me the trouble of clearing a whole drive or partition for Ubuntu.

I began my usual checklist – what do I still need in order to make the switch completely? I’m not a big fan of neither Windows nor Microsoft, you see — mainly for ideological reasons.

For practical reasons, however, I’ve not been able to make the switch yet. Some games, like Uru Live, simply won’t work (though Guild Wars and WoW work just fine through Cedega, and Frets on Fire has a Linux port). A lot of apps simply don’t have good enough Linux-based alternatives. Like FontExplorer X from Linotype. I got over 7000 collected truetype fonts, and I really need a good piece of software to handle them, preferrably with auto-activation. Other software I miss include foobar2000 (which is unsurpassed both in the amount of resources it uses and its flexibility, but I can live with Qoud Libet for the time being if I can get it to work properly), uTorrent (which is unparalleled in its small footprint combined with its excellent WebUI, the latter being absolutely crucial to how I handle torrents) and, of course, Adobe’s products.

A lot of Linux enthusiasts keep claiming I don’t need Photoshop, that Gimp suffices for most needs. Sure, if the needs are modest. Mine aren’t. The selection tools, the new Vanishing Point tools, the vector-based brushes, the excellent UI… All of them are reasons why I can’t use Gimp. Sure, I could probably achieve more or less the same effect with Gimp as I can with Photoshop, but at a cost in time and productivity I simply cannot accept. It’s as simple as that. I want to spend as little time as possible, be as effective as I can be. And Gimp isn’t effective when you’re me. OK, it might not make a difference for those who mainly use Gimp for modding vacation photos or creating web graphics, but when you’re a bit more advanced – sorry. It just doesn’t work. It takes too much time.

And the same goes for Scribus, the InDesign alternative I constantly get referred to. It’s table support is horridly bad, and I use a lot of tables. In fact, most of it’s too bad for me to use. Again, might be enough for those who aren’t used to more efficiency, and I could probably achieve the same effect at the cost of more time spent. But for me, it still isn’t worth it.

Now you tell me “But Gimp and Scribus and Inkscape are free! Photoshop, InDesign and Illustrator aren’t!” Sure, they’re free. But they still aren’t good enough. The sacrifice in efficiency just isn’t worth it. Trust me, I’d like nothing more than to switch completely over to Gimp. But I won’t do it while Photoshop reigns as supreme as it does. Had the comparison been between, say Paint Shop Pro and Gimp – then we’d have a whole different discussion. Photoshop is simply that much better than everything else I’ve tried.

So, what else works? Well, I’d have loved a Linux version of Google SketchUp (which doesn’t play well with Wine and VirtualBox doesn’t emulate OpenGL), for instance. There’s a lot more.

Anyways, I should say a few words about VirtualBox. I’d heard that it was a bit faster than WMware’s products, and it might be true. What I do know is that it runs Windows XP at more or less the speeds I’m used to, and the same goes for Photoshop. That’s right – it works perfectly. I’m so impressed I hardly know what to do – I mean, we’re talking the emulation of an entire environment – windows XP – inside another environment – Ubuntu – and the emulated environment still works about as good as it did when it was working all by its lonesome. Until Adobe sees reason and develops a version of Photoshop for Linux, this’ll work. If they’d add OpenGL-support, I’d be in heaven.

I’ll still use Windows for other stuff, though. Like Uru Live.


  1. Surukai Surukai September 5, 2007

    Pardon my ignorance, but you really find Photoshop and InDesign worth it, given your average student economy?!
    The amount of students that can afford 10000 SEK software is not that many.

  2. admin admin September 5, 2007

    It’s not really a question of “worth it”. Can I do the things I want to do using Gimp? No, I can’t. Either I use Photoshop or I won’t be able to do anything. It’s Photoshop or nothing. I get too frustrated with the Gimp’s idiotic UI, its lack of the features I need. In short, I can’t get anything done with the Gimp.

    And there are always student licenses, for those unwilling to break a few idiotic laws.

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