The most well known software for managing your photos are only available on Windows and Mac. so what photo management software do you use on Linux? What are it's strengths and weaknesses? What sort of users would you recommend it for?


14 Answers 14


I use digikam which is developed for KDE and has ports to Windows and Mac OS X. It's one of the more powerful packages I've tried, with good folder and tag management workflows, though it's not always the most intuitive.

It has lots of plugins for different websites, so you upload your photos to sites like facebook and flick with a single menu option. It will shrink the image to a suitable size before uploading it.

It can deal with pretty much any RAW format. The built in editor is pretty good, though it could be better integrated with the viewer - it can feel a little separate. There's also a light table for comparing photos.

Overall I'd recommend it for a keen amateur who takes a lot of photos and is prepared to spend a little time learning the package in return for a lot of power. I'm sure I've still not explored a lot of what it can do.

Digikam screenshot
(source: wikimedia.org)

  • hey Hamish, how does this compare to Lightroom in terms of RAW "developing", i.e. not the organisational stuff
    – andy
    Jul 16, 2010 at 1:54
  • @andy I'm afraid I've never used Lightroom (or Aperture or similar) so I'm not really sure. Jul 16, 2010 at 15:03
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    @andy digiKam has a RAW processing plugin. It launches when the RAW file is opened in the editor. Internally it uses libraw software. IMO, digiKam RAW converter is less convenient than UFRaw, but it is a matter of taste. In digiKam 1.2.0 it allows: 16 bit demosaicking, AHD/VNG/PPG and Bilinear filters, manual and auto WB tuning, auto-brightness fix, noise reduction and CA correction as well as exposure correction and curves in post-processing.
    – sastanin
    Oct 22, 2010 at 15:50

If you are looking for something closer in spirit to Aperture or Lightroom, consider Darktable. Open source, all that.


Its not as polished as Aperture or Lightroom, but it works, and is free. It has an active development group, and it gets better all the time.


I find that a combination of different software works best.

I use:

Geeqie for browsing thumbnails and previewing files. It has insanely rapid fast previewing of image files, including RAW, to quickly skip through see which ones are in focus/have other issues and delete them. It's also great at previewing all types of image files.

Rawtherapee for all RAW development and exposure/geometry corrections, sharpening, colour management etc. It's like Lightroom kinda. Also works with JPEGs too, of course, but you lose quality.

The GIMP increasingly I find I don't need to use this anymore as Rawtherapee does what I need.

I used to also use gthumb for general organisation, such as adding keywords into the image files, grouping them, moving/sorting them.

I don't like the viewers that force you to crawl your hard drive and then build an internal database of your images; I already have a database of my images and it's called the file system. That's the reason I've so far avoided things like Shotwell. Shotwell also has very poor RAW processing capability meaning you'd still need Rawtherapee, and can't display thumbnails of videos meaning you'd still need gthumb. Digikam (sort of the same for KDE) is supposedly much, much better, but I recall it may also have been one of the ones where it keeps its own database of the images that departs from the file system.

  • I believe digikam does indeed use a database, but that it can store metadata (e.g. tags) in images and/or in XML files within the directories that your images reside, too. Jul 6, 2011 at 7:35
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    Since I wrote this I've stopped using gthumb and now use Geeqie for browsing thumbnails and moving stuff around. gthumb has an annoying habit of totally filling up my hard drive with thumbnails or cached previews or something. Jul 7, 2011 at 1:56

If you're not averse to a commercial product, you might want to have a look at Bibble Pro. I used it very regularly when Linux was my primary OS and I found it to be the best digital asset management package available for that platform. It supports cataloguing, non-destructive adjustments, layers and there is a long list of plug-ins that do some very cool things. It's also a fairly competent RAW converter, though I've found that it makes a slight sacrifice to image quality for conversion speed (it's very fast compared to dcraw/RawTherapee/ufraw). The early 5.0 releases were buggy, but I imagine that the latest 5.2 release is better on that front.

  • 1
    @ CadentOrange: Bibble Pro no longer exists and was taken over by Corel who still maintain a Linux version under the name AfterShot Pro. As a long-time Bibble user I was weary at first, but AfterShot Pro is a nice upgrade to Bibble 5 and the workflow is the same. Yes it is commercial, but many of the plugins are freeware (although a few still need to make the step from Bibble to Aftershot) and all in all it is a great tool that is both stable and (very) fast.
    – FvD
    Jun 2, 2012 at 13:07
  • Note that Bibble has been purchased by Corel, and the product is now AfterShot Pro.
    – mattdm
    Jun 2, 2012 at 14:08

Google Picasa is available for Linux download page.

I've had limited success in getting digikam working on Ubuntu.

  • 7
    "sudo aptitude install digikam" is usually enough to get digikam working on Ubuntu.
    – sastanin
    Oct 22, 2010 at 15:32
  • 3
    I believe that Google has stopped developing Picasa for linux users. They only offer an old version for linux at this point. And technically the version they offer isn't even built for linux. It's just their Window's release with WINE built-in, so some stuff doesn't work quite right. Apr 6, 2011 at 15:51
  • Even when Google was actively supporting Picasa on Linux, it actually ran under WINE, the Windows emulator. It "worked" but I didn't think it worked well. Jun 3, 2012 at 0:56

I use kphotoalbum which is a great piece of software.

I keep my photos organized in it. It allows me to tag the photos in diffrent categories - be it people, places or events.

My usual workflow with it is to import photos (which means just to copy them to the program's direcotory; I keep the photos in subdirectories named after dates of copying them from my card to PC), then reviewing. What I start with is to group similar photos (like a few from a single burst shooting) in one group. Then I review the groups again and mark the photos with tags, usually 1-letter ones, to mark them for printing, web gallery export or posting to online forums or such.

If the shooting was for the client, I also select photos I want to show her at this step.

After all this, I edit the pictures I selected, either starting with RAWs or with JPEGs. Editing means curves, cropping, etc.

Kphotoalbum also has a nice selection of plugins that automate exporting pictures to picasa web albums, flickr, creating flash or html galleries, and many others.


I have been using f-spot for a few years. It works very well for me. It only has very basic functionnality, but integrates well with Gimp.

It is also very easy to backup: all the photos are in the directory of your choice, and the database is a single file. You can also ask it to store your tags in the exif infos, so even if you lose the database it is not too much of a problem.


I've been using Linux longer than I've been using digital cameras and have tried serveral different programs to manage and edit my photos.

At first I used to manage the photos my self and edit them i Gimp and it worked ... but Gimp does/did not support Nikons RAW format NEF.

Today I use Shotwell (replaced F-Spot I think) to manage photos and have purchased LightZone for editing photos. LightZone works with Nikon RAWs NEF (and others Canon RAWs ect.)

Regards Sigersted

  • 1
    Like you I have tried them all and now I am also using Shotwell.
    – labnut
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:59

I prefer to organize photos myself, so I download them from camera using gphoto2 and store in a directories like 2010/07 Some event. That way I can backup them by simple copying, and don't have to do much more with them except deleting the bad ones.


Don't forget about virtual machine software like VMWare or Oracle/Sun's VirtualBox, which will let you run Windows programs from your Linux environment. The latest VM software is able to support DirectX in the Windows client, and I think both of these options have a "seamless" mode that lets you view a Windows program right on your Linux desktop, as if the program were running right on your Linux OS.

There's a small performance penalty for running in a VM, but if you can't find a good native-Linux option, this might give you some additional choices.

  • I am a fan of VirtualBox, works well for me.
    – labnut
    Jan 24, 2011 at 14:57

Google's Picasa runs under Wine, it's seamless. I like it because I can use the same software under my home PC running Ubuntu and my work PC running Windows. The images are stored on Dropbox.


I have used f-spot, digikam and shotwell, all for 'management'. I preferred f-spot but that has been dumped from ubuntu and replaced with shotwell. Big mistake. I have found shotwell very slow, freezes and crashes. I will remove it and look again......probably go back to f-spot.


I've used digikam (back in the KDE 3.x days), F-Spot and Shotwell. Of the 3, I liked F-Spot best.

  • I recall digikam as being nice, but rather slow. As it's been years since I last used digikam, that's all I can really say about it.
  • F-Spot was a bit buggy, but had a nice feature set.
    • My favorite feature was F-Spot's ability to treat RAW+JPEG so that the two files showed up as different versions of the same photo.
    • F-Spot also had a number of quick filters (B&W, soft-focus, etc), as well as quick options for opening photos in external apps (e.g. GIMP, UFRAW).
  • Shotwell is less buggy than F-Spot but has far fewer features.
    • I read somewhere on Shotwell's site that they're planning to add the same sort of RAW+JPEG handling, but as of 0.10.1 that's still not happened.
    • Shotwell does have quick links for opening photos in external apps, but next to no built-in filters.

For me its a 2 step process:

  1. From tens of thousands of photos, sort out the good from the bad (while removing duplicates) - for this I wrote and used vsPhotoSorter - after this, I exported the good photos into yyyy/MM directories

  2. Now I had a much reduced collection of good (share-worthy) photos, I can use any photo management software to further organise, tag, etc - on linux, f-spot or shotwell.

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