I just felt like letting my geek flag fly...

Ahhh! What did they do to my Gimp?

Date/Time Permalink: 10/24/07 02:54:35 pm
Category: Reviews

I've just installed Mandriva One 2008 on my kid's computer. Ordinarily, I'd be reviewing that first. But the first thing I do with a distro review is pop open Gimp to take screenshots. And Mandriva's using the release candidate Gimp 2.4. And I opened it and with a tortured shriek that sent birds flying from every tree on the block, uttered the line which makes the title of this post.

Gimp screenshot 1

I have good news and bad news: the good news is that a ton of new features have been added. The bad news is, the UI has been entirely re-designed. Have you ever used the Gimp before, read a Gimp tutorial online, been using it since the 1.0 days? Then you will be lost. I repeat, you will be lost. You might as well go pick a new graphics tool to learn as the Gimp. For instance, where were drop shadows? Script-Fu->Shadow->Drop Shadow? No, as the above screenshot shows, it's now in Filters->Light and Shadow->Drop Shadows. And the old light menu now has shadow stuff dumped in on top of it. And there simply is no script-fu menu any more... presumably, there won't be a Python-fu menu any more either.

And they've added a Red Eye Tool like Photoshop's, even though it makes no logic because adjusting color levels does the same thing, but requires knowledge. And they've put in a "heal" tool which basically does just what paint-with-image-region used to do, but required knowledge. And you have brush attributes like Photoshop's, because using an image pipe requires knowledge.

This is bad news, because Photoshop... Hold on, wait a minute, let me show you something...

The only Photoshop screen shot you'll ever see on Penguin Petes!

Remember when I got the spare box with Windows XP on it a while back? Well, it has Photoshop PS3 on it. So here's a screenshot (taken with the Gimp!!!) of me running it with my frozen hockey puck logo open to show that yes, Phototrolls, I've used both so I know what I'm talking about.

This re-design of Gimp at the behest of the flaming troll brigade is bad news, because Photoshop compared to Gimp sucks. It sucks the road tar off the Highway to Hell, thanks for asking. And we're peeper-deep in flaming Phototrolls, who are the sole influence keeping people paying $800 for a simple, basic thing like editing pictures with a program that started out as freeware.

And the Phototrolls have carried their flamewar to the ends of space and time. It's permeated the depths of Usenet. It's on the most obscure channel of IRC. It's translated into Chinese, Romanian, and Hindu. It's scrawled as graffiti in the subways. You can't take your laptop to the middle of the Sahara desert and open Gimp without three Phototrolls springing from the sand like B-movie mummies who start whinging about Photoshop at you.

So the Gimp team is crushed and defeated, and are beating a retreat. Unless I haven't found the replacements yet, I could swear that actual features have been removed, simply because they aren't in Photoshop. But OK, they have to do something to get the bullies off their backs, while they know we FOSSers will forgive them in the end.

So you know the drill. Pretend I bitched and fussed about turning Gimp into "I-Can't-Believe-Its-Not-Photoshop!" for another six paragraphs, linking yet again to my antique "Stealth Bombers are more difficult to operate than tricycles BECAUSE THEY CAN FLY" rant, pointing out that Gimpshop is there already, and then ending with some caddywumpus line like, "Welcome to the new political correctness - lobotomy? - good, line on the left, one scalpel each."

Of course I'm miffed! I'm me, aren't I? I'll just save it for the next outrage, when Richard Stallman announces that the next Emacs will be based on MS Notepad, Linus Torvalds rewrites the kernel as an NT server, and the Bush administration outlaws every language but Visual *Sick.

Well, that's the bad news. And Gimp is still the only game in town for FOSS raster editing, so I'm going to have to do something very un-politically-correct, very un-Phototrollish, and make the best of what I have. And there's a metric ton of good features which have been added to the Gimp, if you can only Easter-egg-hunt them down. I'll be covering the good news next time.

Because that's what I do when a release is marvelous and rotten - I just write two reviews!

Update: Minutes after posting, the release of Gimp 2.4 breaks on Slashdot. And what do the comments do? Flame, flame, flame, nobody tries it, nobody uses it, just endless flames...

Thanks, Gimp team! You ruined a perfectly good program to try to make people happy who refuse to be happy no matter what you do.

Son of an Update: Just to show that all is not mudslinging in online Gimp discussion, OS-News has a much more clear-headed audience. The discussion here is more realistic, focusing on the core issues with Gimp: tons of users, hardly any developers, no funding. In a nutshell.

I'd like to point out, I've never before been critical of the Gimp. My issues this time are that rebuilding the interface to try to please a bunch of - it will get into the Webster's dictionary if I have any say in it - Phototrolls is a huge waste of the few resources they have. It is the classic case of bike-shed-painting.

And yes, I *will* get the "good news" side of Gimp 2.4 up - I'm sweating it out in the background. Trouble is, I keep getting derailed because I only have 2.4 on that new Mandriva, and I'm still getting everything on that box set up.

UPDATE: If you didn't like my protesting at the rebuilding of Gimp in Photoshop's image, don't miss an opportunity to get even more pissed off when Adobe came around a while later and said they have to re-think Photoshop's interface. 'Cuz it sucks!

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