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Linux RAW workflow set-up and specs

Discussion in 'PC/Windows/Linux' started by Druid, Apr 14, 2007.

  1. I'm currently using a PPC Powerbook and do photographic stuff using Bibble.

    I'm getting a bit frustrated by how slow it runs when I'm trying to work with large numbers of D200 RAW files. So I've been thinking about upgrading. The powerbook is fine for everything else I do, so it occurred to me to consider the idea of building a nice cheap Linux system for photographic work, rather than spending a vast amount on one of the new Macs (although they are very tasty looking)

    So, what I'm basically asking is for recommendations on distro, spec and RAW workflow setups from those who use Linux for this purpose. I imagine I'll stick with Bibble, but I'd be interested in any other recommended approaches.
  2. mallaig


    Mar 12, 2006
    I suggest you have a look at this thread. There are some interesting bits about what programs people use.

    Why not download a few distros that have Live CDs to try them out before committing yourself? I use Ubuntu on my old laptop and like it a lot.

    Programs commonly available are Picasa, Bibble, Lightzone and GIMP. All those listed are free apart from Bibble. Of course this list is not exhaustive!

    For hardware I suggest to stick with an NVIDIA card as their driver support tends to be better for Linux. At least that was the case when I installed Ubuntu many moons ago. I'm not sure how well things like tablets are supported or if that's even a concern to you.

    Hope it gets the ball rolling.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 15, 2017
  3. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Hello Phil,

    Several months ago I switched once again to Linux, hopefully for good this time. Actually there are maybe only two reasons for me to keep Windows:
    1. Photoshop
    2. Monitor calibration using Eye-one 2 which doesn't has a Linux s/w to do the calibration :-(.

    I run a dual boot desktop with Windows XP and SimplyMEPIS, a Ubuntu based distribution with KDE.

    My current RAW converter is Lightzone, which is free under Linux ($250 for PC and MAC). I will play with it another month or two and then donate some money - it wouldn't be fair to use such a good tool for free.

    Lightzone requires at least 1Gb of memory - it doesn't work with less. I use currently 1.25 Gb, but more would be better.

    For color management I use LittleCMM, a nice utility that takes the .icc or .icm monitor profile I create under Windows. You need to make sure its started when you turn on the machine (when starting X).

    I'm currently trying Digikam, a program that helps organize photos and which provides a photo editor that can also convert from RAW. It can be set up to work in 16 bit, but it's a bit of a hassle (pictures are too dark, needs some twiggling). I want to try Picassa as well, but haven't gotten to it yet.

    There are more RAW converters and photo viewers/editors that support RAW, for example Krita. There is another one that's available for trial I think it's called Pixel, which looks promising.

    On the commercial front there is Bibble. Lightzone is also a commercial product, but the Linux version is free as in beer.

    I've got GIMP and Cinepaint installed as well. Cinepaint is actually a spin off from GIMP, if I remember correctly. GIMP has lots of editing features similar to Photoshop, but supports currently only 8 bit depth. Cinepaint was developed to edit/produce movies where you need 16 bit color depth - I think it goes even further. Cinepaint, however, offers less functionality, but could be sufficient for photo editing. I still need to play with it a little more.

    With prices for DSLRs falling there is more and more Linux software being developed as more Linux geeks get their hands on DSLRs. I'm amazed in how much has been done in the past three years when I started shooting in RAW.

    The only alternative to Linux I have started to consider now is getting a Mac. Although I (have to) use Windows at work, I'm quite fed up with all the maintenance time I need to invest in my laptops (still running Windows) at home and at work.

    The SimplyMEPIS distribution fits on one CD and can be run from it. You don't even need to install the software to give it a try. Just boot from CD and see how it works.

    Hope you find what you are looking for. Good luck.
  4. I saw the Ubuntu thread and found it useful, but it didn't really go into what's the recommended distro/spec.

    Thinking about it, Bibble pretty much covers my needs. I don't go in for HDR or other Photoshop trickery. I just sort of want to 'develop' my RAW files, which Bibble does perfectly well for my purposes, so I'm mainly asking about recommended distros and hardware to support Bibble I think.
  5. heiko


    May 15, 2005
    Any modern distro should do. Here is what Bibble says on their website:

    * Any distribution using kernel version 2.4 or later
    * X installed and running
    * Pentium III processor with SSE 1.0GHz or higher. Pentium 4 2.0 or greater recommended
    * Athlon XP+ 1.0GHz or great with Support for SSE.
    * 512 Megs of free RAM, 768+ recommended for large (>10Mp ) images or extensive batch processing (768 minimum for 1DS2/D2X/S2)
    * 1 Gig or more of free hard drive space strongly recommended

    I've tried and used about 4-5 different distros over the past 10 years. Today I prefer a Ubuntu based distro, for the following reasons:

    * Ubuntu / Kubuntu / Xubuntu has a large user community
    * Ubuntu is a desktop distro made to be user friendly
    * Ubuntu is not commercial (Redhat, Mandrake, Suse, etc. have commercial versions and free versions)
    * It has received good reviews
    * It's Debian based, which can have some advantages when upgrading or installing packages

    I personally run SimplyMEPIS which I like. Have a look at the following review:


    It's also a matter of taste.

    Regarding hardware, I would consider the following:

    * Use a decent CPU (Intel Duo Core?)
    * Get as much fast RAM as you can afford, but minimum 1 Gig, better 2 or more
    * If you can afford, get multiple hard disks in a RAID setup (make sure the distro supports it). The disks should be fast! Instead of RAID, you can have /home on a separate drive - this could speed up your system since software, swap space and /tmp reside on the second disk.

    If you have an up-to-date CPU, the bottleneck is mostly the RAM and hard disk performance.

    Other things to consider:

    When you install Linux, create at least the following partitions:

    / or root - between 5 to 15 Gig (I'd use 15 Gig)
    swap - is required on all Linux systems, use some 2-4 Gig
    /home - here is where ALL your data and pictures will reside. Should be whatever is left on your drive
    /opt - some commercial packages (for example Picasa) install under /opt. You could create this partition with 4-5 Gig and install Bibble on it. This is not really necessary, as you hopefully keep a copy of the software package under /home which you can reinstall whenever you feel like.

    When you later decide to upgrade your Linux version, you can do a clean install (which is often recommended) without touching your /home and /opt folders - that is all your data and commercial software stays intact.

    Linux doesn't require you to create a separate /home partition, but it's strongly recommended!

  6. heiko


    May 15, 2005
  7. OK thanks :) 

    That's the sort of basic guidance I was looking for.
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