My mailbox was full for weeks. Many of you called my attention to the software I'm writing about today, called The GIMP.
Al Fasoldt's reviews and commentaries, continuously available online since 1983

T e c h n o f i l e
What a name! But the GIMP is a free and powerful image editor

By Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, Al Fasoldt
Copyright © 2008, The Post-Standard

   Life has its moments. When Adobe refused to send me it's latest version of Photoshop for review, a friend suggested that Adobe's software was too expensive anyway.
   What I should write about, he said, were free or low-cost alternatives to Photoshop. So, in a newspaper column last month, I asked you for help finding the best cheap alternatives to Photoshop and to the other programs we use for standard computing tasks.
   My mailbox was full for weeks. Many of you called my attention to the software I'm writing about today, called The GIMP. Many others suggested other programs, of many types, and we'll get to them in coming weeks.
   You can't get past the odd name of this week's program without an explanation. And it can't even be a simple one. GIMP stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program. "GNU" means, and I'm not kidding, "GNU is Not UNIX." (It's a self-reflexive acronym, something that was popular among geeks in the '80s.)
   "GNU" (pronouncced "guh-new") is important because the GNU project promotes free and easy-to-modify software. The GIMP was spawned by the GNU project and is therefore free and Open Source -- the "Open Source" part meaning that the software code is open for all to see and modify, as long as such modifications are also kept Open Source.
   Whew. See what I mean about not having a simple explanation?
   The GIMP can't do everything Photoshop does, but it comes close in many ways. For basic photo editing -- cropping, adjusting colors and making other improvements to a picture -- it's fine, and it has a lot of advanced functions, too. No one's left out, either: The GIMP runs on Windows, Linux PCs and Macs.
   But I'm not a fan of the standard GIMP. I like a fancy-dan version called GIMPshop. It's got Photoshop-like menus grafted on, making things much easier for most of us. The GIMPshop is also free and also runs on Windows, Linux and Macs.
   Get the GIMPshop from www.gimpshop.com. You'll find links to the Windows version, along with instructions for Linux users. There's a Mac version linked on the site also, but Mac users need to have the X11 graphical system installed first. (It's free, but it does add a layer of complexity to Macs. If you're a geeky Mac user, jump right in.)