Digital Editing on Linux Adventures, part 2

by Carla Schroder

The fine folks behind the scenes are giving the O'Reilly Weblogs a major overhaul, so mind the dust.

Last month I wrote about buying a shiny new digital camera, and figuring out what computing platform to use for digital editing and archiving. Much to my shame, I actually tried Windows first. That didn't work very well. Then I thought, well hey, Macs are way cool and this kind of work is just what Macs excel at.

Well, I still don't own a Mac, as lovely and tempting as they are. Linux is working out great for my needs. Here's a quick outline.

A key step was upgrading my PC. It had an 800mhz Duron and a puny 256 megs of RAM, which simply wasn't going to cut it for photo editing. Now it boasts a 64-bit 3400 Sempron, 1 gig RAM, a new DVD writer, a shiny new 80-gig SATA drive, and a front-panel USB/Firewire/Smart Card panel. And a lovely quiet Thermaltake 430-watt power supply, with the best cable-wraps I ever saw. They look like snakeskin, and make it very easy to keep the power cables tidy.

After all that, I simply could not connect it to my old fading 17" CRT, so I bought a 19" ViewSonic flat-panel, the VA912b. I love this monitor- great color saturation, no dead pixels, built-in (tinny cheap) speakers, and it included both a DSUB and DVI cable. Of course this required a new video card, so I got a deal on a eVGA NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 256 MB AGP, which packs more horsepower than my first three PCs. Yes, I know that PCI-E is teh hawt, but my mobo does not support it. This card has wonderful 2D performance with the native Linux drivers. For 3D you need the Nvidia drivers. With LCDs get a DVI card for the best sharpness and least ghosting.

I like the KDE desktop and Debian, so I installed 64-bit Kubuntu. The Konqueror file manager is the best file manager on any platform. I plug in my camera card, and Konqueror creates a thumbnail preview. The I dump all images onto the computer for editing, an easy drag n drop, and very fast over USB 2.0.

While still in Konqueror I delete the pictures I don't want, turn sideways pics around the right way, and move them into other folders. For editing, simply right-click to call up whatever editor I want, either the Gimp or Krita.

For making Web galleries, you can't beat Album. (If you use it and like it, click the PayPal link and send the author a few bucks.) Album makes thumbnails, resizes, links everything conveniently, and comes with themes for dressing up your site.

Printing is the one area where I blew it. I did not shop carefully enough for a nice color photo printer. I bought a Canon Pixma, which is a great little printer, but its Linux support is not very good. I also have an Epson CX4800 scanner/printer which does horrible Linux printing, but makes great scans in Linux with XSane or Kooka. I will either purchase a new Samsung or Hewlett-Packard printer, since both have extensive lines of good Linux-supported printers, or I may just buy Turbo-Print for $30, since it supports both printers.

For future expansion I already have EVMS (Enterprise Volume Management System) set up, so adding new drives and shuffling storage volumes around will be as easy as falling asleep.

So after a few false starts, I'm back on track. Stay tuned for links to pages and pages of entertaining cat pics.


2006-03-03 12:01:25
This printer/scanner has preliminary printing support in the Gutenprint 5.0.0-rc2 release. It should work reasonably well although it may not be well tuned (i.e. there may be some colour drift).

Save yourself a few bucks and support an open source driver :-)

I've bought a fair amount of Epson hardware over the years because Epson has been reasonably open about specs and Linux support.

Toby Haynes

2006-03-04 12:14:44
You weren't able to work with digital photos on Windows???

I call FUD.

2006-03-05 21:32:04

FUD? Heh, not, not even close. FUD is "fear, uncertainty, doubt." My comments don't fit that definition. Perhaps you meant "liar, liar, pants on fire"? You ought to read Part 1 for a small taste of what went wrong with Windows. It shouldn't be necessary to go into great detail on Windows' defects, as they are more than abundantly documented, and very well known.

And even if Windows were technically excellent, which it never will be without a ground-up rewrite, Microsoft's illegal, unethical, and just plain dirty business tactics are enough to keep me from ever supporting their products in any way.

As far as digital editing goes, here are a few of the problems I experienced:

  • the software included with my printers and cameras was buggy and inefficient to use. Poorly-organized interfaces and bad documentation galore

  • the software was also unbelievably huge, hundreds of megabytes, with not a lot of functionality

  • poor Windows kept crashing, even after the hardware upgrade

  • I got real tired of all the commercials that kept popping up and all the junk that installed itself in the systray. I wasted way too much time turning off stupid registration reminders and products ads. What really got my goat was the sneakiness of it- there was no simple way to turn it off, but it required registry hacks

  • and some of it was phoning home, as I could see with Ethereal. I could waste more time writing iptables rules to block it, or figuring out the offending software and deleting it. But why continue to beat my head on that wall, when I can use something that doesn't abuse its customers?

Yes, I could have purchased good digital editing software for Windows. (Like Adobe Photoshop. Sure, I'll support the company that put Dmitri Sklyarov in jail for simply talking about their junk encryption that any 14-year old baby programmer could have cracked. When hell freezes over, maybe.) But why bother, when Linux provides such great stuff for free? And is stable, and respect users, rather than abusing them?

Free of cost is only a minor consideration anyway. I financially support FOSS projects as much as I can. Freedom and technical excellence are the biggest reasons to use FOSS.

I do not understand Microsoft apologists- you act like poor little Microsoft is some oppressed underdog. I think Bill G can take care of himself. Microsoft has not done a single thing for you except to destroy competition and reduce your choices as a customer to nearly nothing, turn the Internet into a giant botnet, roll out the welcome mat to all manner of corporate spyware, raise customer data collection and privacy invasion to the highest levels, and now they are all over DRM (digital restrictions management) as a Really Cool Thing. If it weren't for FOSS being the only meaningful competitor to Microsoft the computing landscape would be bleak indeed.

2006-03-05 21:36:42
Sounds good to me! Gutenprint should be included in Fedora or Ubuntu pretty soon. Yes, I'm lazy and or chicken- I'll wait until it's a nice easy installation. :)
2006-03-07 07:58:31
It's already available in Debian testing, the package number is different (4.3.99+cvs20060121) but it's well 5.0.0-rc2. So it's just an apt-get line or a few clicks in synaptic away ...

Thanks for the fine article.


2006-04-11 22:14:20
I just bought a CX4800 -- I'm glad I didn't see this article before I bought it, because I have it working beautifully with the
Epson Avasys driver for the CX47000
and CUPS (the 48000 is just a 47000 with a few added features). This is on ubuntu (kubuntu) breezy, with cups version 1.1.23-10ubuntu4. Cups test page looks gorgeous, centered, border as it should be. All the printer options show up in the print dialog (go to "driver" to change print quality; hi-res works, printing photos to glossy photo paper works, and there's even a (separate) status monitor that shows ink levels and error messages. Sweet; the only thing I've found that doesn't work correctly is no-margin printing; I get a margin. I don't even get the white line rasterization issue mentioned on their page, at least, I haven't hit it. No color shift; looks just the same printing direct from media on the printer as from CUPS. Takes one heck of a long to rasterize, but I seem to recall this is a known and fixable cups/postscript issue. Anyway, no waiting for gutenprint, or having fun compiling gutenprint, though I'll probably play with gutenprint once it comes out in June.

Their instructions aren't quite comprehensive, so here's what I did:

sudo alien -d -i pips-scx4700-cups-2.6.3-1.i386.rpm
sudo /etc/init.d/cupsys restart
# Install as the 4700:
sudo /usr/sbin/lpadmin -p scx4700 -E -v ekplp:/var/ekpd/ekplp0 -m ekscx4700.ppd
# start the ekpd service just to try out
sudo /usr/local/EPKowa/SCX4700/rc.d/ekpd.debian start
# Start the cute little status monitor:
/usr/bin/ekpstm &
# They provide a script to install the printer daemon as a service, looked OK, so I ran it:
sudo /usr/local/EPKowa/SCX4700/ install

sudo /usr/local/EPKowa/SCX4700/ install