I’ve been using graphics software on Linux since 2005 and for Photographers, there aren’t many really credible suites that match some of those for Windows and OSX. But there there a few tools that are exceptional.

For scanning I have always used VueScan. It’s better than any of the usual scanning software and a pro license is inexpensive, but what do you use after that?Initially I used to use The GIMP, and then in 2006 or 2007 I used LightZone for a while, which was amazing and utilised the concept of Ansel Adam’s Zone System. It was great but eventually discontinued for Linux, sadly (BUT…just noticed while writing this that it has been forked as open source again and available again!! Advise you check it out if interested : http://lightzoneproject.org). But then DarkTable came along. And what an entry it made. It is fantastic and not only does it do pretty much everything that Lightroom does, but it also looks and feels almost exactly the same. And best of all, it is free, open-source and cross platform meaning Windows, Apple and Linux users can all use it. I’ve been using it for about 4 years and have noticed it continually improve with each release.

So Lightroom, once launched shows at the time of writing, a sequence of phases or tabs called :

Library | Develop | Map | Book | Slideshow | Print | Web

Library would show your image collection as variable sized thumbnails, Develop would enable editing of individual photographs, I never used Map, Book allows you to create a book of the photos, slideshow….self-explanatory, print prepares for printing and web prepares an online gallery.

It is great, but it costs about £20 per month for a professional license. If I were a full time photographer I’d buy it, but I only do very occasional contract work so for me it is not worth the cost. At least, not when I have DarkTable available.

Darktable can be installed on any system easily (in Linux the package name is just ‘darktable’) has a sequence of phases or tabs called :

Lighttable | Darktable and then, under ‘Other’ it has Map | Print | Slideshow | Tethering


Lighttable works exactly the same as ‘Library’ in Lightroom, Darktable works exactly the same as ‘Develop’ in Lightroom. You can adjust histograms, dark, light and mid tones, sharpen, colour balance, and everything else you’d expect. It is in my view one if not the best Photographers tool that you can use aside from paying for Adobe products, and even if you did buy the Adobe products, I don’t believe they do more than Darktable does, or if they do, they are few and not the kind of thing most of use usually use anyway. I’m not knocking Lightroom. It is fantastic, and if money was no object I’d probably buy it. But my point is that if, like me, paying £20 a month for a tool you maybe only use a few times a year in any degree of seriousness, then Darktable is surely the next best thing by a considerable margin.