Although Gnu has been around for many years, providing free software for many distributions, it is wrong to think of the Gnu program as only providing software for Unix and Linux systems. A variety of Gnu programs have become available for Windows that can compete well with commercial offerings. The Gnu Image Manipulation program, called the Gimp, offers much of the same functionality as does Adobe's Photoshop. Each one has specific advantages and drawbacks. Which one a person uses will depend on his needs and his chosen operating system. Photoshop is not available for many platforms.
Adobe's Photoshop is one of the most popular commercial programs for manipulating images. It works well and many people will download it illegally through Bit torrent and Warez sites, despite the viruses that such pirated software often contains. Linux and Unix users have long had to use the free program available to them, known as the Gnu Image Manipulation Project, or the Gimp for short. Photoshop is available only for Windows and the Macintosh OS, although this may change as the popularity of Linux increases.
Both Photoshop and the Gimp are powerful programs that allow those who know their inner workings to do amazing photographic edits, but the serious person who does photo editing, an investment in Photoshop is recommended. Adobe's program is significantly easier to learn, but at the moment is only available for Windows and Macintosh environments.
True to the ideals of the Gnu project, the Gimp is available for free. A version exists for nearly every operating system imaginable. Many Linux distributions, including the popular Ubuntu, install the Gimp as part of the operating system's software package. Manuals and tutorials for using this complex program can be found online. Far fewer books have been written for this software, although that is changing as it gains popularity.
Some things Photoshop can do faster as it does not rely on the routines implemented in the GTK toolkit, but because the Gimp is open source a variety of add-ons and features can be downloaded and installed. Not only that, unlike the commercial Adobe Photoshop, users can modify the source code to meet their particular needs if they are good at programming and interpreting the code others have written. Most users do not care about a programs source code, provided the program is not difficult to learn to use and can perform the tasks for which the user requires the software.
According to this web site, there are special features that Photoshop supports professionals require that can not be found in the Gimp. This may or may not have been true at the time the author wrote the web site. Many plug ins add increased functionality to the Gimp, but people who work with graphics for a living probably do not want to waste time finding modules to make a program function the way they need it to.
A professional graphic artist that uses Windows or the Mac OS and wants to avoid a learning procedure that may include countless frustrating Internet searches looking for how to do something in the GIMP, Photoshop should be their choice. Photoshop may be pricey, but it allows a user who knows how to use the software to its full capabilities to put forth a professional image with the minimum amount of effort. Professional that work on Linux or Unix platforms must learn to do the same things with the Gimp.
The average user who uses such programs to make signatures on an Internet forum, or just needs to crop, resize, or cut out parts of pictures taken with digital camera can do all these tasks with either, but need not worry about long downloads of illegal software if they decide to use the Gimp instead.
Adobe Photoshop should be purchased, but the GIMP may be downloaded or ordered on CD. Both are full-featured graphics programs, but which one person uses will depend on the image they want to convey, the functionality they need (Photoshop is still ahead slowly out of the package), and how much time a person is willing to invest in learning to use the software. A person who wants to try out the Gnu Image Manipulation project for the first time can go to [http://www.thegimp.org] and find the download link appropriate to their operating system. Windows users may also have to download the GTK to get many other pieces of GNU software working on their computer.