5 Best writing software for Ubuntu / Linux

Everything you need for writing was already included in your computer’s Operating System, right? On most Linux distributions, like Ubuntu, you’ll find some text editor installed by default. On Windows, you even have options – between both Notepad and Wordpad! Hurrah! Life is good!

Well, sorry to be the pessimist in the room, but it could be better.

Libre office - Ubuntu 20.04
Libre Office v6.4.6.2 on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Theoretically, text editing is a simple affair: you press keys on the keyboard, and characters appear on the screen. Extra options in the editors allow you to style parts of your text differently, bold, italicize them, use different fonts, etc. Practically, though, that’s merely fundamental functionality. When dealing with text, the possibilities are vast. In fact, the tools dealing with the process are even split into sub-genres.

That’s why, for this list, I decided to look at all aspects of writing and present you with a spherical selection of tools. I believe my choices cover all bases, no matter what type of writing hat you’re wearing. Still, I’ve also included a secondary list of other tools you should check. They might be a better match for your needs, wants, and demands.

I should also note that although I’m using those solutions on Ubuntu, all of them are also available on other operating systems. So, you could use them even if you’re on Windows or Mac OS.

Choose Your Weapon

I believe the following five choices are the very first apps you should look into if you’re serious about your writing. I must stress that they might not be the best for everyone, but most people will find what they want for all their word-crafting needs in one of them.

LibreOffice Writer

https://www.libreoffice.org/discover/writer/

Back in the Dark Ages of computing, OpenOffice provided to the world of Open Source and Linux a worthy alternative to Microsoft’s Office. Since then, its path split, and now the most popular version of Linux’s prominent office suite is known as LibreOffice. As a full office suite, it comes with spreadsheet, database, and presentation solutions, but Writer was always its main protagonist.

An equivalent to Microsoft’s Word, Writer is a word processor with which many CVs, blog posts, and ebooks have been written. It’s an ultra-versatile solution that provides a comprehensive set of tools to the writer. Tools that can assist in every stage of the writing process, from initial draft to published “final.”

LibreOffice Writer is primarily focused on the writing part, providing everything needed to put words on digital paper. A spellchecker and thesaurus combo can eliminate typos and impress the world with your rich vocabulary. Templates and support for AutoCorrect and predictive text can optimize the actual typing process.

As every self-respecting word processing application, LibreOffice Writer allows you to style your text using bold, italics, headers, lists, etc. It can also create indexes and tables and supports hyperlinks and images.

However, Writer can also work as a basic DTP application if all you want is to produce a relatively simple leaflet or a mini ebook. You can use LibreOffice Writer to set up text frames in a document’s pages, controlling how text flows. You can insert existing graphics or use Writer’s drawing tool to create some from scratch. When you’re done, you can export your masterpiece to multiple, widespread formats, from RTF to PDF.

What LibreOffice Writer lacks compared to many alternatives is a snazzy modern interface and some “smart” features which can make other word processors more enticing. Features like AI-assisted predictive text, as found in Google Docs and Microsoft’s free online Word app, or the ability to visually rearrange parts of a large document, like in Scrivener and Manuskript.

Plume Creator

https://sourceforge.net/projects/plume-creator/

Designed for novelists, Plume Creator is a multi-talented tool that doesn’t deal only with the writing process itself. It enriches the writing experience by offering useful tools with which you can control the grand narrative. Functions you can use to organize, edit, and improve your work through constant planning and iterations.

At its heart, you’ll find a rich text editor with all the features you’d expect from a typical word processing app. Plume Creator respects how a writer might prefer being left alone with their words and offers a distraction-free fullscreen writing mode. When used purely for writing, it’s no different from any other similar app. It’s before and after the writing process that Plume Creator shows its teeth.

As with apps like Scrivener and Manuskript, Plume Creator enables you to define characters, chapters, and scenes, apart from an outline of your story. And you can also jot down notes. All this extra “data” can assist with continuity and help you stay on track and tell the story you originally envisioned.

Plume Creator allows you to see your novel’s structure with different visualizations, from a linear presentation to a spreadsheet outliner. The different viewpoints can help you pinpoint where you might need to apply tweaks to improve the story’s flow.

Unfortunately, the problem with the much-promising Plume Creator is that it’s stuck at the “much-promising” stage for close to five years now. It feels like it has stopped evolving, and alternatives like Manuskript have caught up with it. Still, it’s worth checking out, for you might prefer its interface and more extensive word counts.

Manuskript

http://www.theologeek.ch/manuskript/

Manuskript is designed primarily for working with longer documents, split into multiple chapters and scenes. “Documents” like books and plays. However, I’ll let you in on a dirty little secret of mine: I’ve been using it to write blog posts and articles instead. That’s because Manuskript offers something I haven’t found in any other alternative: combined support for multiple word targets and color-coding of my progress. If that sounded a bit alien, allow me to explain.

Like Plume Creator and Scrivener, Manuskript is designed from the get-go as a multi-tool for novel writers. Like those apps, it allows you to jot down descriptions about every character and place in your story, flesh-out its world, and create a rich universe. Who knows, you might need to refer to those entries after you meet huge success and Hollywood demands you write six more sequels.

You can then create an outline for your novel and flesh-out scenes and chapters. You are also free to move those around to “remix” your story – useful when you realize you revealed “who did it” in the prologue. Finally, you can either work on each part to assemble your story piece-by-piece or on everything at once. As expected, you can also do “this writing thing” in a distraction-free mode, as is the norm nowadays.

I’m using it for shorter articles because it helps me keep myself in check when I have to deal with specific word counts. Creating an article structure from the very beginning, with clear word targets – no matter how small, helped me stop writing more than I should. Or, rather, much more, for this article was also supposed to stay under the 2K words mark.

FocusWriter

https://gottcode.org/focuswriter/

There are two distinct approaches as far as the interface of writing-related applications goes. One school of thought prefers having everything and the kitchen sink on the screen—a plethora of options a mere fifty pixels away from their copy. Then, there are the fans of a typewriter’s simplicity, a clean desktop, and zen habits, who believe all those extras are useless fluff. They prefer a clean editing environment without distractions, leaving them alone with their words.

FocusWriter sits smack in the middle, walking the fine line between both approaches.

It achieves this by hiding its interface while you’re writing, working as a proper distraction-free editor. The interface re-appears when the cursor touches the edges of the screen.

Thanks to this dual approach, using FocusWriter feels as if you’re switching between the writer and the editor’s roles. Everyone who writes already does that, anyway. Still, with FocusWriter, the distinction between the two functions is even more apparent thanks to each having its dedicated interface. Or, rather, one of them lacking an interface altogether.

FocusWriter supports the popular TXT, RTF, and ODT file formats. To enhance the writing experience, it comes with different visual themes and optional typewriter sound effects. It supports spell-checking and can present statistics about your progress.

Since many writers tend to be disorganized and somewhat chaotic, FocusWriter stays true to its name by including support for daily goals, timers, and alarms. Setting your mind to dedicate the next X minutes to writing while working towards a goal can boost your productivity and help you stay focused.

If it weren’t for those features, I believe FocusWriter would be a somewhat unremarkable app. Thanks to those, though, it’s one of the best tools for every writer.

Obsidian.md

https://obsidian.md/

Some might argue that Obsidian isn’t a piece of software for writers, just like Google Keep and Evernote aren’t. I understand the point of view, but respectfully disagree, because really, what is writing?

Writing doesn’t have to happen in a word processor, nor a distraction-free environment. Some people prefer researching what they’ll write about, collecting bits and pieces of information. Then, they create relations between everything. They connect the dots like a detective in a crime drama, but instead of the final location on a map, they see their story taking shape. While writing, they continue referring to those snippets of info, jumping between different documents and, many times, tools. If this sounds like your writing process, you’ll love Obsidian.

On the surface, Obsidian’s a note-taking tool that supports Markdown for styling your notes. When diving deeper, you realize it’s a smartly designed application that allows you to build relations between different snippets of information. Then you can check out a graph of those relations to see new ones emerging.

On top of that, it’s got a fluid interface, unlike any other note-taking app. Thanks to this interface, you can open multiple notes in parallel and juggle them on the screen, changing their arrangement however you wish.

All the while, dozens of included or third-party plugins extend Obsidian’s functionality. Among them, you’ll find calendars, Pomodoro timers, automatic footnotes, and the list keeps expanding every day.

But yeah, it’s not an alternative to Word, if that’s what you’re seeking.

Not What You Expected?

As I said, there are many facets to writing and countless tools for every need. If the ones in my primary list aren’t what you’re seeking, maybe one of the following alternatives will do.

Scrivener

https://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener

One of the most popular writing tools on the planet, and justifiably so, Scrivener was one of the first applications to offer a logical workflow for the whole process of writing a novel or scenario. Although you can dive right in and start writing, Scrivener is best for those who prefer planning ahead. For fiction, you’d want to set up characters, scenes, and bit by bit, start building the world where your novel will take place. For non-fiction, you’d probably keep and organize a massive number of notes and then try to make sense of them and create a logical structure for your work.

With Scrivener, you can do both and more. As it proclaims on its official site, it’s used by all kinds of writers, from students to screenwriters and from lawyers to translators. Unfortunately, I can’t go into all its details since I want this to be a blog post, not a book. The sole reason Scrivener isn’t among my top 5 selections is that it’s a commercial closed-source app in a world of free alternatives – like Manuskript.

Bibisco

https://bibisco.com/

Bibisco specializes in writing novels, too. It comes with a range of features that assist in the actual writing and the research and world-building process.

As with other tools specializing in novel writing, with bibisco, you can create entries for characters, locations, and objects, to refer to while writing. You can keep notes, create a structure for your novel, and set up narrative strands and settings.

Then, start writing, organizing your work in chapters and scenes, which you can analyze with integrated tools for length, character distribution, etc. Finally, export your masterpiece in PDF, DOCX, or EPUB format.

Typora

https://typora.io/

A favorite Markdown editor, Typora became ultra-popular thanks to its unique interface that others are still trying to clone. It pulled this off by combining the editor and preview panes of other editors into one so that you can see the results of markdown syntax styled in real-time.

In action, the current piece of text you’re working is presented as if in any other markdown editor, with all markdown syntax visible. At the same time, Typora renders everything else in the rest of the page as final output.

When your work is complete, you can save it in native markdown format or export it as a PDF. Alternatively, you can take advantage of Typora’s support of the open-source pandoc converter to gain access to other popular formats like DOCX.

Google Docs

https://docs.google.com

One word: voicetyping. OK, that was two words, and Google Docs can help with that, too. Google’s online, in-browser, better-in-Google’s-own-Chrome writing solution is far from perfect. Its interface somehow manages to feel both too complicated for a simple word processor and too limited where it shouldn’t be. It ends up like a weird Wordpad with advanced plugins tucked-on but hidden away.

Still, voice typing combined with its Artificial Intelligence-backed predictive text support, that can learn patterns from the way you write, make a killer combination. What’s better than dictating instead of writing, then choosing from smartly pre-selected words when doing final edits on your work?

Grammarly

https://www.grammarly.com/

Typos can make your writing look unprofessional – except if you’re doing it only for your journal. An editor can help you refine your writing and correct some of your typos, but the problem’s that editors cost money. Actually, so does Grammarly, but thankfully it also offers a free plan.

At its simplest, Grammarly is a spellchecker that can ensure your work is typo-free. As you use it, though, you realize why Grammarly is considered the best solution of its kind: it’s not merely an alternative to free options like GNU Aspell. With Grammarly, you can select from a group of goals, different voices, and intends. This way, you can ensure your writing not only is typo-free but also carries the message you want, the way you desire. Would you like to make your pottery tutorials sound friendlier and your CV more authoritative? Grammarly can check your text’s tone and suggest tweaks to find your authentic voice.

If you go for the Premium option, you’ll get more advanced checks, including for plagiarism. Grammarly also offers the option to have your work checked by a human editor. Although this carries an extra cost, it’s much cheaper than hiring an editor on your own. No matter your primary tool for writing, I’m pretty sure you’ll also add Grammarly to your arsenal – at least, the free option.

Write On

I believe that the programs I chose are the best in their field, and at least one of them will crawl its way into your list of favorite writing tools if it’s not already there. Still, there are even more options that many people swear by, which I skipped for the majority of users would bring out the pitchforks.

Yes, you can write a whole book with Vim or write your blog updates with Emacs. Nano is ultra-quick and produces generic TXT files that you can edit even on your smart fridge. Evernote is even more popular than Obsidian for managing and organizing notes if that’s how you’re going to use it.

Still, I regard those as even more specialized solutions. They might look too arcane and “geeky” to the average user. Or they might deal with “writing stuff” but not offer enough to stand out from their peers. The truth is that although I use them for other reasons, I don’t find them as useful as the programs in this list for my actual writing.

Are you using the same tools I do, or are you relying on other solutions for your writing needs, and which?

Author : Odysseas Kourafalos.

The best gift for your kids this holiday season: a Raspberry Pi

It’s that time of the year again, when mommy, daddy, extended family, and friends help perpetuate the myth of Santa Claus by purchasing gifts for the mini-humans among us. Most kids, especially the younger ones, will get some playthings. Many will get clothes, among which there would be an epochal amount of sweaters nobody genuinely likes. A rare few might get some book, but in many cases, it will be of the coloring kind. As every self-respecting geek among us knows, though, all those options don’t hold a candle compared to a modern gadget that can change their lives. A gizmo that can help them grow and become the gift that keeps on giving: a Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi was initially created as an educational tool. A self-contained computer that would be ultra-affordable, so that every school — and every parent — could buy a bunch without breaking the bank. You see, unlike typical computers and gaming consoles, the Raspberry Pi doesn’t use specialized hardware. It is the equivalent of a simple smartphone, without the “unnecessary extras,” like the display and camera. Even if we don’t fully take advantage of them, modern smartphones are proper mini computers. The Raspberry Pi keeps the “computing” part and loses the fluff.

The first Raspberry Pi sold-out, but it wasn’t kids, students, and schools buying it, as initially intended, but instead, fans of open source and DIY. A full-blown computer at a tiny form factor and an unbeatable price? What an unrivaled combination for tinkerers, programmers, and those who sought an advanced Media Center solution or retro gaming box for pennies!

It’s precisely for the same reasons that the Raspberry Pi is the best gift for every kid who doesn’t already have one. It can work as both a toy and an educational tool. A Raspberry Pi can have the kids thinking, solving problems, using their imagination, and learning new things. At least, when they are not playing Super Mario and re-watching Frozen for the umpteenth time.

Thus, I’ve decided to compile a list of some of the ways this little electronic board can turn into the Best Gift Ever. I am sure at least one of them will entice you to buy a Raspberry Pi, or five. You know, “for the kiddo!”

Project Ideas

You can build hundreds of things with a Raspberry Pi, but I decided to keep things kid-friendly and relatively simple for this list. You can make most of the following projects with, not for your kids. Thus, I’ve avoided more complicated ideas, like building your own arcade cabinet. Those are admittedly more impressive but may also demand the use of potentially dangerous tools like a Dremel.

Make a Lego Case for Your Raspberry Pi

Since you can build many things within some of which it could be embedded, the Raspberry Pi doesn’t come by default with a case. Thankfully, you can purchase both official and third-party solutions to offer your Raspberry Pi a shell to call home. It’s never a good idea to leave electronics exposed.

Thing is, why spend more money to buy a small chunk of uninteresting plastic when you could take advantage of the situation? You can treat the lack of a case as the first project to tackle with your kids. Why not make one together out of one of the most popular and creative toys, one that both kids and adults love? Yes, I’m talking about Legos!

This would be a big no-no if talking about a full-blown PC, but the Raspberry Pi doesn’t get too hot. Thus, there’s no need for large coolers and specialized cases with ample airflow. You can let your imagination loose and build the equivalent of a house for your Raspberry Pi. Build around any of its ports, leaving openings for connectivity. If you prefer planning ahead or would like a simple guide of specific steps you can follow, this one would be a good start.

Set up a Self-Contained Media Center

YouTube’s top 5 most viewed videos are all songs for young kids, and you can find Frozen’s characters everywhere. As Sherlock Holmes would deduce, and every parent knows, that’s because kids not only like their videos but also having them on repeat. With a Raspberry Pi, you can offer them precisely what they want and, at the same time, liberate your exhausted TV or laptop. It’s as easy as flashing a file you’ll download on an SD card, also copying their favorite movies and videos in it, and then booting your Raspberry Pi from it. Done: you’ll have created a self-contained media center for the kids. Add a monitor and a joypad for control, and place it in their room. You can find a guide on how to pull this off at Raspberry Pi’s official site.

This will result in a Raspberry Pi running a Linux distribution dedicated to a single app, the popular KODI media center. KODI supports most media types, so you can throw almost any kind of video and audio files in its folders. Then, add those folders to KODI’s library, and scan their contents. Let KODI detect all file details and automatically download pretty graphics from them Internets, and call it a day.

You can also go the extra step and make a YouTube account specifically for the kids, then add it to KODI’s dedicated YouTube add-on. This way, your kids will not only have access to their favorite Studio Ghibli movies locally, but also be free to listen to Baby Shark three dozen times per day without melting your smartphone.

Since their media center will be Linux-based, you can also configure the underlying system only to allow its use on a schedule. But that’s a story for another time.

Assemble a Tiny Retro Multi-Console

We might gawk at the graphics produced by the latest GPUs, Playstations, and Xboxes, but that’s because we’re adults. Kids don’t care if Snow White’s mirror reflection isn’t ray-traced or how many strands of Rapunzel’s hair are rendered. Raspberry Pi might be underpowered for games like Cyberpunk 2077, but it packs enough power to emulate older consoles. Consoles with thousands of titles, which might not display the fanciest graphics, but shine where it counts: gameplay.

Like in KODI’s case, it’s a simple process thanks to RetroPie, which comes with pre-configured versions of RetroArch and EmulationStation on the Debian-compatible Raspbian Linux distribution. If this sounded like Greek to you, the simple version is this:

  • Download and flash RetroPie on an SD card
  • Copy some games for older consoles and computers in the appropriate folders
  • Boot your Raspberry Pi from the SD card.

RetroPie presents a snazzy interface giving access to all the game ROMs it detects in its folders. I suggest you don’t give your kids access to dozens of systems and tens of thousands of titles all at once, though, if you ever want to see them again. It would be better if you update their retro-console manually every other month. Each time add a handful of new ROMs to their collection to keep things fresh.

Use It as a Desktop Computer and Learn Linux

The official OS for Raspberry Pi was Raspbian, now called Raspberry OS. It’s based on Debian, which just happens to be one of the oldest, trusted, and most widely supported Linux distributions. Like Debian, Raspberry OS can provide a full-blown desktop environment and hundreds of apps to cover every possible need. The Linux ecosystem has something for everyone, from browsers to text editors and from sketching tools to educational software.

This means that you don’t have to spend a small fortune to give older kids and teens a proper computer. The newest Raspberry Pi model packs enough punch to tackle the same tasks as desktop PCs. It shows its limits only with very demanding processes, like rendering 3D graphics, editing video, or heavy multitasking. However, do note that the older models are much more limited. They offer a sub-par desktop experience – especially the first and second-generation options that had even less RAM and a single-core processor.

Play — and Hack — Minecraft

Minecraft isn’t just a game, but a worldwide phenomenon. The first game to be used in classrooms as an educational tool, Minecraft is available for free on Raspberry Pi and accompanies its default OS. Kids will love fooling around in its blocky 3D world, but that’s only the beginning. It’s when they realize this world can be a virtual sandbox, where they can easily build things by stacking blocks, that they’ll genuinely get hooked. But there’s more.

Equipped with a programming interface, Minecraft for the Raspberry Pi can be extended or “hacked” with Python code. By writing scripts to build things in the game, kids can learn actual programming while having fun. Much better than reading for hours to learn how to print “Hello World” on the screen.

There’s not much needed to enjoy Minecraft on the Raspberry Pi since it’s included in its official OS. After downloading the file and flashing it on an SD card, you only have to add a mouse and keyboard to the Pi and hook it up to a monitor. Boot from the SD card, and then locate and run Minecraft.

Scratch the Itch to Code

Older kids and teens can learn how to program in Python through Minecraft, but with Raspberry Pi and Scratch, even younger kids can learn basic programming concepts. Scratch is a visual programming tool with a relatively simple drag and drop interface, through which kids can create their own games and animations. That’s what makes it easier for younger kids than fooling around with Minecraft’s coding side: with Scratch, they won’t have to write a single line of actual code.

More Complex Projects

You don’t need much more than the Raspberry Pi itself for the projects we saw up to now. Those are great ways to get familiar with the Raspberry Pi but don’t take advantage of its true potential. For that, it’s worth investing in some extra parts — and maybe a soldering iron — and setting aside some hours for next weekend. The results, as you’ll see in the ideas that follow, will reward your time and effort.

Put Together a Lunch Box Laptop

A relatively quick and easy to pull-off project, D10D3’s computer-in-a-lunch-box project is precisely what you think: a computer in a lunch box. Take that, MacBooks!

The whole idea is as simple as it sounds. You’ll need the Raspberry Pi itself, two batteries, a mini LCD, a Bluetooth keyboard, and a WiFi dongle. That’s on top of the same cables and SD card you’d use on a typical Raspberry Pi setup. Plus a lunch box. Then, you pack everything inside the lunch box, mount the components in place with some foam tape, and you’ll have a portable “laptop” for the kids. As an alternative, flash RetroPie instead of Raspberry OS and replace the keyboard with a low-profile joystick. Hey presto: a portable mini-arcade instead.

Make Your Own Portable Games Console

Having access to thousands of titles from the whole history of video gaming through a tiny retro console in their room could be the best gift for every kid on the planet. And yet, it isn’t because there’s something even better: being able to take all those games with them wherever they go. Thankfully, by adding some extra bits and pieces to the Raspberry Pi, that’s possible too!

PiJuice’s project will show you exactly how you can do this by combining a Raspberry Pi with an Arduino board, a mini TFT screen, a joystick, four switches, and some cables. Of course, you will also need an SD card to house the operating system and games.

Note that although you can make this with the kids, there is also some soldering involved. You should either perform those steps by yourself or ensure that the kids stay away from the scorching hot soldering iron and the toxic fumes produced during the process.

Turn Your Christmas Lights Into Sound Visualizers

Here’s a fantastic project for this holiday season. One that can turn you into your kid’s superhero, but also into your neighbors’ worst nightmare: turn your light decorations into a massive visualization for Baby Shark! Follow MakinThings’ instructions to see how you can do this. Take note that this is another project you’d better make on your own, not accompanied by your kids. This one involves soldering, too, and depending on the path you choose, it may also require dealing with power cords.

Still, although the kids won’t be directly involved in the process, I’m sure they will appreciate how the whole neighborhood will be able to feel Elsa singing. All. Day. Long.

Make a Web-Controlled Power Strip

This project is indirectly “for the kiddo” and primarily for the parents since it’s you who will be interacting with it. And it can also be linked to many of the projects we saw up to now. At the same time, it can allow your kids unrestricted access to gaming and media in their room and offer you peace of mind. What is this magical project?

Well, the title gave it away: a web controlled power strip.

It might not sound like something revolutionary, but think about it: by following rleddington’s instructions, you can create a group of web controlled power sockets. Then, place them in the kids’ room, and plug in the media center or retro console you made with another Raspberry Pi. The result? The kids will be free to enjoy failing in Battletoads without feeling mommy’s and daddy’s gaze judging them. And you will be able to enforce bedtime by touching a button on your smartphone’s screen.

A Thousand Gifts in One

I’m sure you found at least one project in my list that sounds like a great idea and justifies the purchase of a Raspberry Pi. What’s not initially apparent is that the most important gift isn’t the final result but the process itself. The fact that you’ll be spending time with your kids, working together toward a common goal.

All the while, they’ll be learning about how computers and tech work. What’s even better, though, is that with Raspberry Pi, nothing’s set in stone. When they get bored with a project, it’s easy to tear it down and re-use the Raspberry Pi to create something else. Something new, exciting, but equally enjoyable.

Or, you know, you could buy them a sweater.

Author : Odysseas Kourafalos.

Best Image Editors For Ubuntu in 2020

You might have searched for the best image editors for Ubuntu in 2020 and fell upon dozens of articles bundling a bunch of applications in the same bag. One reason is that the term image editor can mean many things. Still, it’s wrong presenting different applications as if they’re the same thing without explaining where they differ and what makes each one interesting.

You see, image editors deal with computer graphics, and those are split into two big categories. The first is raster graphics, and the second what we can loosely define as math-based graphics.

Raster graphics, more commonly referred to as “bitmaps,” include popular formats like JPG’s, GIFs, PNGs, and BMPs. This type of graphics contains information about the color and coordinates of a specific number of pixels. That’s why they are best viewed in their original resolution and look fuzzy when zoomed in or out.

Math-based formats include modern 2D vector formats, like SVGs and Adobe Illustrator’s popular AI format, and extend to DTP and 3D graphics. The common point between all math-based formats is that algorithms instead of information about each pixel define what appears on the screen. The results are less detailed because those algorithms describe the appearance of pixel groups instead of individual pixels. However, this is also their primary advantage since they can be displayed in any resolution without losing detail and are much smaller in size.

For most people, the term “images” is equivalent to bitmaps. Thus, for this list, I gave a higher priority to programs dealing with such formats. Each can be considered “the best image editor for Ubuntu in 2020,” depending on your needs and preferences. Still, they all excel in their particular fields. Although they are all “image editors,” each one also specializes in a different aspect of graphics and image manipulation. So, even if one doesn’t look like your cup of tea, another may be what you are seeking.

GIMP

Download GIMP

An ancient and not-so-popular joke between geeks goes something like this: the only thing worse than the GNU Image Manipulation Program’s (AKA: GIMP) name is its interface. As I am typing those lines, GIMP celebrates its 25th birthday, and its interface still looks and feels just like when it first hit our screens. And I don’t mean it in a good way.

GIMP has been often criticized for how its interface is more complicated than needed. However, the excuse is that it packs everything required for bitmap editing, manipulation, or creating graphics from scratch. It is the closest open source and free alternative to Adobe’s pricey Photoshop.

The simplest way to put it is that nothing comes close to GIMP’s feature set. If you want a single application to color-correct your photographs, create mockups, sketch a comic, or even make an animated banner, this is it.

Krita

Download Krita

The creatives among us might find GIMP’s interface restrictive, too complicated, straight out annoying. Its features are geared more towards existing image manipulation than creation. Plus, it feels “laggy,” as if it doesn’t prioritize real-time user input. Krita does.

For the older than 18 years old graphic artists among us who might remember it, Krita is the open-source equivalent to Painter. Unlike behemoths like Photoshop and GIMP, programs like Krita and Painter prioritize their graphic engine’s speed and accuracy. When sketching, or painting, or, generally, creating graphics from scratch, you don’t want your computer stuttering, pausing, interrupting your flow.

This fluidity might be the most crucial characteristic of Krita, but it’s far from the only one. Both pencilers and inkers will appreciate how it includes a smooth motion mode to assist when sketching curves. Or how you can rotate the canvas to help with the limited mobility of our human wrist. That’s why Krita today has all but dethroned even the almighty Photoshop for digital sketching and painting.

Pinta

Download Pinta

Allow me to continue my streak of comparisons between open source applications and their Windows or Mac OS equivalents. If GIMP is an alternative to Photoshop and Krita to Painter, then Pinta is closer to Paint.NET.

Being lighter in features than GIMP is, in this case, a feature on its own. That’s because it results in Pinta feeling much swifter than GIMP in actual use. Its interface is also much friendlier and closer to Photoshop. It’s worth noting that this interface setup is considered a standard in graphics apps since the ancient days of Deluxe Paint on the Amiga.

This places Pinta right in the middle between GIMP and Krita, rendering it suitable for both existing image manipulation and creating graphics from scratch. Like either of them lacks where the other excels, Pinta isn’t better than GIMP or Krita in their respective specialty fields.

However, this also means that it’s more user-friendly than both and a much better option for most people who don’t need the particular features of GIMP or Krita.

InkScape

Download InkScape

Bitmaps might be more popular than vector graphics, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist, nor could I ignore them. The best free and open-source tool for the job, if “best” means most versatile and feature-rich, is InkScape.

Just like Adobe’s closed-source and commercially available Illustrator, InkScape doesn’t care about individual pixels, specializing in math-defined vector graphics. Some of its tools look similar to what programs like Photoshop and Krita offer, like the pencil and paintbrush. Here, though, they achieve their results differently. They define a series of points on the canvas, styled to look like those freehand tools.

Most professional illustrators who work with vector graphics, though, don’t rely on such tools at all. Instead, they create and modify those points one by one, carefully defining shapes. Shape by shape, they build their final result, assisted by the rest of the tools, functions, and filters InkScape offers.

Vectors might be different than bitmaps, but you can work with both in InkScape. Instead of defining plain-color shapes, you can use bitmaps to give them an interesting texture. Here’s an idea: let’s say you were creating an illustration of a field in InkScape. Instead of designing a background to “ground” your work, you could skip that step. Instead, you could import an actual photograph of a cloudy sky and place it behind your work layer as a background.

Tools like InkScape are also useful for “quick and dirty” DTP jobs. They are not the best for working on long e-books; neither can they replace programs like InDesign or Scribus. Still, they are perfect for designing single page flyers and leaflets.

ImageMagick

Official Page

Typing long commands in the terminal might seem counterintuitive when talking about editing images. Despite having to use it in precisely that way, ImageMagick is an indispensable tool for everyone.

Unlike most other tools of the trade, ImageMagick doesn’t allow real-time interaction with images. Or, to put it simply, it doesn’t let you sketch and paint over existing images. Instead, it specializes in what would be better described as image manipulation instead of editing.

With ImageMagick, you can, for example, add the same watermark to a bunch of images with a single command. Most people use it to batch resize and convert images in one go, though. ImageMagick enables you to build a script that can “take” pictures you save into a particular folder and “transmute” them to the optimal size and format for your blog.

Alternatives

Since the term “image editor” is somewhat vague, you might be looking for something slightly different. Maybe for something like the following:

DarkTable

https://www.darktable.org/

Darktable is the closest any open-source program has ever got to offering Adobe Lightroom’s feature set on Linux for the enticing price of zero.

Just like Lightroom, Darktable is a non-destructive photo editing application, enabling you to experiment with your files without worrying about your originals. Darktable automatically creates copies of any file you edit, applying all changes to the clone while keeping the original intact.

LightZone

https://lightzoneproject.org/

An image editor specializing in tweaking photographs to make them more presentable, LightZone can help you improve the clarity, colors, and vibrance of your snaps.

LightZone works in two distinct modes: in Browse mode, you can jump between the folders in your file system, see thumbnails of the images inside them, and select them to check out their metadata. By choosing a picture, you can move to the Edit mode. There LightZone offers a list of configurable Styles that affect the selected image in different ways. You can use them to improve your pictures’ looks, remove defects, or follow Andy Warhol’s footsteps.

F-Spot

http://f-spot.org/

For light editing and, more importantly, browsing and organizing your images, F-Spot takes the cake. It’s a visual file manager designed specifically for working with images.

You can select multiple images to batch-adjust their brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and temperature. Then, add some tags for better organization, and maybe export your pictures to web services like Flickr and Picasa. And that’s without taking into account the extra functionality offered by F-Spot’s extensions. It’s a must-have app for everyone dealing with image files on Ubuntu.

Outro

I hope you found an image editor for your particular needs among my choices. Those apps cover significant chunks of the image-editing landscape and are generally considered the best at what they do.

Still, you might be interested more in something like GrafX2 or mtPaint if what you’re seeking is arranging pixels next to each other to create retro-looking pixel art. For UI/UX design, you don’t have to re-invent the wheel and design everything from scratch in tools like InkScape, when there are solutions like Figma Linux for precisely that type of work.

Even if you can find other solutions that specialize in a particular sub-field of graphics, though, the tools I talked about are “general enough” to cover all image-editing needs of the average user. This includes editing photos, sketching, painting, transforming, or converting and re-compressing any type of image.

Which type of graphics are you more interested in, and what tools – if any – are you already using to create, edit, view, and manage your image files? Tell me in the comments section bellow.

Author : Odysseas Kourafalos.