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GIMP... sucks?

I was going to call this post "GIMP sucks!" without a moment's thought, but GIMP doesn't suck. I'm quick to say "XYZ sucks" but I always mean "XYZ sucks for my needs at the moment" or "XYZ sucks compared to ABC". Of the many things I've said suck, most of them are fine tools. But hyperbole is my favorite pastime, and it helps get the point across.

In any case, I decided to draw a picture yesterday. I dusted off my old Wacom tablet and thought, why not use the GIMP? Gentoo-wiki has good instructions on getting a Wacom tablet working in X windows. A few kernel modules compiled, a few edits to xorg.conf, a tweak or two to some udev rules, a quick X restart and it was all set. (It's not quite as simple as that, of course, but what is?)

Next step, get my tablet working in the GIMP. I have the very latest version of the GIMP installed at the moment, 2.4.0-rc1 release candidate. GIMP recognized my tablet just fine. There are some options via Preferences -> Input Devices that you can set to tweak how the tablet works. You can also install wacomcpl via emerge linuxwacom and it gives you further options to change sensitivity and tracking speed etc.

So off I went. I put in a good hour or so trying to draw a very simple picture for practice. Result: utter failure.

The next thing I tried was hooking up my old Windows machine that's been sitting in the corner (my cat had been using it as a perch / bed) and trying Photoshop. Result: relative success.

What went wrong? Well, my first problem was brushes. The Gimp has an extremely limited selection of brushes. 10 solid circles, 10 faded circles, that's about it. Photoshop has a berjillion brushes by default, and it's really easy to make your own on the fly. GIMP has a brush editor, but it's clunky and unfun.

Beyond that, there's just something not right about my Wacom tablet in X windows. I don't know what, but no matter what I tried, the thing was all jittery. I thought it was just me, maybe my hand isn't steady enough. But in Windows / Photoshop, I had no problems whatsoever. No matter how I played with settings in Linux I couldn't get the thing set up where I could draw a simple straight line.? I turned the speed way up and/or way down, played with sensitivity, changed the tablet from working full-screen to per-window, all kinds of things.? Nothing I did made it any easier to draw a simple straight line.

Another fun experience I had was that pressure sensitivity would randomly stop working in the GIMP, forcing me to restart it and then pressure sensitivity would return. This may be because I'm using an RC version of the GIMP, but who knows. It kind of kills the mood when you're trying to produce artwork.

Beta-quality GIMP doesn't explain this bug though: after using my Wacom tablet for extended periods of time, Firefox would stop responding to keyboard input until I restarted Firefox. This may be coincidental and I'm not 100% sure it's because of my tablet, but I never had a problem like that before, and I haven't had one since I unplugged the tablet.

If you do a search for "GIMP vs. Photoshop" you'll come back with a million Photoshop-people saying GIMP sucks, and then a million GIMP-people saying it's just as good as Photoshop but all the Photoshop junkies are too used to what they already know and unwilling to change. I'm from the exact opposite world. I use the GIMP all the time for basic photo manipulation and I actually like the interface. I don't know Photoshop at all beyond very simple operations. I really wanted to use the GIMP in Linux; I hate using Windows for anything. But in the end I went with Photoshop.

Does this mean anything? No, my experience is an anecdote. But this experience makes me sad nonetheless. Looking on the bright side, 2 years ago I tried to get my Wacom tablet working and only succeeded in crashing my X server. So we're getting somewhere (or I'm becoming ever so slightly less incompetent). But I think we're still not quite there.

September 05, 2007 @ 1:21 PM PDT
Cateogory: Linux


Quoth numerodix on September 06, 2007 @ 12:39 AM PDT

"I actually like the interface"

:eek: stabbing pains in chest

David Gowers
Quoth David Gowers on April 24, 2008 @ 1:43 PM PDT

In Ubuntu this was really easy. just uncommenting some lines in xorg.conf, I think the version of GIMP available didn't have XInput support, so I recompiled GTK+ and GIMP with XInput support, set it up in GIMP, and that is all that was needed.

Since you really want to use GIMP for this, consider investigating the specific differences between gentoo and ubuntu.. or just trying Ubuntu :)

dave from Rhode Island
Quoth dave from Rhode Island on May 01, 2008 @ 5:54 AM PDT

the thing that sucks about gimp is no line tool wtf OK, make a path (that doesn't show you which x y pixel, mm ,cm ,inch you started on) make second anchor get calculator mouse over first anchor get pixel value of mouse make second anchor click damn it the path isn't straight look at line that connects anchors is it straight should I brush stroke it, yes. damn it default brush is 11px, click brush to custom made 1 px brush, because gimp thinks all pics should be drawn with 3px brush as smallest size fill path wow i have a straight line and it only took me 5 minutes and 60 clicks yeah gimp you suck I think gimp developers should look at the way is setup they might learn something hey ma look at me I'm drawing with my keyboard they should change the mascot from a coyote to a real fricken gimp.

David Gowers
Quoth David Gowers on May 01, 2008 @ 9:01 AM PDT

Dave: Takes me a few seconds and a single click. I just bring up the paint tool I want to use, click at the start and shift-click at the finish.

Also, path creation tool has a 'polygonal' option which means every segment created is always a straight line.

These things are fairly prominent in the UI. (after you've clicked once with a paint tool, GIMP says in the statusbar 'Try shift for a straight line'; 'polygonal' option for path tool takes up 1/6 of the space in the tool options.)

If you like to draw a lot of (unconnected) straight lines or other simple shapes, using the GFig plugin is much more fun and effective than click, shift-click etc. For multiple connected lines, path tool or simply click for the first point and shift-click for the following points.

In 2.5 and greater, the 'Polygon select' tool is also available, after which you can simply stroke the selection (Edit->Stroke)

Quoth Legion on June 06, 2008 @ 5:45 AM PDT

GIMP sucks so much that i can?t belive it!!!!!! It`s an amazing piece of shit! You have to work really hard to make things so bad!

I like but...
Quoth I like but... on July 16, 2008 @ 12:36 PM PDT

The things that I wish would have would be.. Pen Pressure and GOOD inking brushes.. Otherwise it really would be better then gimp.. And I mean pen pressure for NON vista users. >>

Quoth ARGH!!! on October 03, 2008 @ 3:51 AM PDT


You can't control text, layers, or text effects hardly at all in gimp.

Is this the greatest of the open sauce legacy?

Quoth ARGH!!! on October 03, 2008 @ 3:51 AM PDT


You can't control text, layers, or text effects hardly at all in gimp.

Is this the greatest of the open sauce legacy?

Quoth random on October 06, 2008 @ 7:56 AM PDT

gimp still sucks

Quoth random on October 06, 2008 @ 7:57 AM PDT

gimp toolbar wont stay up while i'm painting

Quoth Paint.Net on October 19, 2008 @ 8:15 PM PDT

I prefer, way more easy to use than gimp...

Anonymous Cow
Quoth Anonymous Cow on December 11, 2008 @ 11:27 PM PST

gimp is a bad example of free software - its cost me my sanity.

Quoth DiRT on February 12, 2009 @ 12:13 AM PST

My biggest problem with GIMP is the floating toolbars. Is it so hard to make the program work in one window? Draw a square. Dock one toolbox on the left, the other on the right, and display the image int he middle. I hate how you constantly have to drag windows around, resize them, switch the focus, etc... This is why I'll never use GIMP over PS or even Paint Shop Pro, despite how poorly Corel is now treating it.

Dave from rhode Island
Quoth Dave from rhode Island on September 22, 2009 @ 9:38 AM PDT

Thanks David Gowers.

Quoth bangkokian on February 01, 2010 @ 5:42 PM PST

reading this comments makes me feel so much better. i somehow thought i am the only one loosing his sanity and killing his valueable time with bringing order in the chaotic gimp environment.

Quoth jack on April 01, 2010 @ 6:47 AM PDT

i am sure that gimp was sabotaged at some point by the adobe corporation in order to keep their market share.

Quoth Yaroukh on April 13, 2010 @ 8:14 PM PDT

Damn I hate this piece of crap even more than I hate PHP. And that says something.

Quoth Mike on April 22, 2010 @ 7:43 AM PDT

Geez, I thought I could make a dotted straight line (i.e., along the 90 degree axis, left-to-right, horizontal, with to the pixel accuracy).

I can draw a dotted line with the path tool, but I can't get it exactly horizontal. Or, I can draw a pencil/painted line exactly horizontal (w/ shift key), but I can't make it perfectly dotted. If I can, the UI is too badly designed to make it obvious.

It's the basic tasks like above where where Adobe simply kicks ass. Also, both photoshop and illustrator have such good integration, that i can do vector stuff in illustrator (i.e., straight dotted line), or raster in illustrator. You'll never get that kind of integration between gimp and inkscape. I'm all for Linux and open source, but I do understand where paying a software company to make stuff just work easily is worth it.

Quoth Tim on January 13, 2011 @ 4:46 PM PST

Guys, lighten up. Gimp (like just about anything else opensource), is created by a bunch of volunteers that work really hard. .. Gimp is getting better all of the time.

How many of the complainers here have done anything to make the GIMP community better? Is there anything that any of you 'know' how to do that you've bothered to create a Youtube videon on? How bout that? You don't have to be a coder to contribute.

Quiet Tim
Quoth Quiet Tim on September 06, 2011 @ 2:00 PM PDT

Be quiet Tim. GIMP sucks. Everything from the name to the UI sucks sucks sucks. The GIMP community is a complete waste of oxygen and every moment they waste on that turd is time that would have been better spent doing ANYTHING else.

Quoth Core on September 07, 2011 @ 4:49 PM PDT

I have been using GIMP on an off for years. About 10 years ago I decided to try it for photo editing. I had used an earlier version and really can't remember much about it but anyway.. It was an easy transition from PhotoShop at the time, and everything was simple and worked very well. I recently reinstalled a new version to compile some maps I have been working on for a project, and I have to say they really screwed up the program big time. They have vastly over complicated it. It doesn't handle large images well, and is really pissing me off. I will be going back to Adobe.. Given my previous experience and the fact that the program is actually less functional than it was 10 years ago, I would go as far to say it sucks the big one..