Open Source Advent Calendar: Gimp Image Editing Software


This is the advent calendar for tech-savvy people. In the fully digital business world, almost everything is owned by a large internet company. Their software is neither open nor free. Alternatively, there’s this little island of an open source world: a program whose code is publicly visible and can be independently scanned for potential vulnerabilities and backdoors. Software that can be freely used, distributed and improved. Often the reason for the action is simply the pleasure of doing something useful to society.

Short images of open source projects will be uploaded from December 1 to 24. They relate to the respective functions of the program, pitfalls, history, context and funding. Some projects are supported by an individual, others by a loosely organized community, a tightly managed organization with full-time staff, or a consortium. The work is done entirely on a voluntary basis, or is funded through donations, collaborations with internet companies, government funding, or an open source business model. Whether it is a single application or a complex ecosystem, whether it is a computer program, an application or an operating system, the diversity of open source is huge.


Short images of open source projects will be uploaded from December 1 to 24. They relate to the respective functions of the program, pitfalls, history, context and funding.

Gimp has no formal structure and is loosely supported by a community. One of the main players in the project is an Allgäu bookseller.

Sheneb Shenab: With GIMP, the GNU image manipulation software, you can crop vacation images with just a few clicks and with little graphic design knowledge. Computer software also allows complex image processing. Gimp is licensed under the GNU GPLv3 license. There is no version for smartphones, and none in development, says Michael Natterer, one of the main developers.

He cannot provide distribution figures. You can’t save it and it can’t say anything about download numbers. They will have a rather important informative value anyway, because by default, Gimp is a mirror server of external elements. It was downloaded and delivered independently of the different Linux operating systems as part of the respective software packages. The project assumes that Gimp is widespread.

Almost all open source projects include at least some organizations that accept donations and have trademark rights. There is absolutely no formal structure in Gimp, as Natterer explains in an online interview with Heise. Society only comes together by working together. Donations The GNOME Foundation of the United States accepts GIMP. The Via Liberapay subscription platform receives lame people Around € 100 per week from 160 regular sponsors.

Alternatively, you can donate directly to up to three community members as part of ongoing projects. Overview Gimp.org lists 371 people who “made Gimp possible”: 323 people contributed code, 15 worked on design, and 29 worked on documentation. However, these are all people who have contributed something at some point in their 25-year history, Natterer says. The size of the active community is currently in the low double-digit range.

There is no central contact for the community. Much of the communication It works through the IRC chat channels. There are also forums. It plays a special role Pixls.us. The forum moderator, which deals with the intersection of photography and open source software, has also been active on Gimp for a long time. The core of the community, usually five to ten people, meets once or twice a year. At least under normal circumstances: Natterer complains that the pandemic is also frustrating Project Gimp. These real-world encounters have simply been absent for almost two years.

Like many open source software, Gimp started out as a college project. It was invented by Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis, two computer science students at the University of California at Berkeley. Not in 1995 They advertise Gimp in various newsgroups as a free and paid alternative to Adobe Photoshop.

In February 1995, the first incomplete beta appeared, which they constantly developed. In June 1998, version 1.0 was ready. The show’s parents pulled out of the project shortly before.

Michael Natterer, who has worked with Gimp since the early days, is named one of the main developers of Gimp. Natterer lives in Wangen im Allgäu in Baden-Württemberg and works as a bookseller.

His career with Gimp also began during his student years. He just used it, caught an error, and downloaded the source code according to the “It can’t be that hard” tagline: “After hours the patch was ready and it was my first Gimp hack. During the next semester’s break, I then signed up as a newspaper volunteer (“Give me something to do”).

The work of the article series is based in part on a “Neustart Kultur” grant from the Federal Commissioner for Culture and Media, awarded by VG Wort.

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