You may have heard the news. Google is getting rid of Picasa. I know, you’re not the only one who is sad about this. There may be an abundance of ways to store and edit your photos online, but they don’t quite offer the benefits that come from having a good native application you can run without an Internet connection.
For Linux users, this is a case of welcoming our Windows and Max OS X-using friends to the club. Google stopped supporting the Linux port of Picasa years ago, leaving people to install the last version released and crossing their fingers that it works.
The good news is Picasa is far from the only good option available. There are plenty of applications to choose from on Windows and Mac OS X. Plus, this is an area where the Linux desktop also has a wide range of options. Whether you’re tired of clinging to an old version of Picasa or switching to the Linux for the first time, these are some of the best alternatives currently available.
It may feel like the GTK-based desktops get all the love, but when it comes to managing photos, KDE has you covered out of the box. Gwenview is the project’s default image viewer, and much of the core functionality you get from Picasa is already baked in.
You can move photos around into folders, perform minor edits such as cropping and resizing, and apply tags and ratings. The editing options aren’t nearly as comprehensive, but if you already do most of your tweaks in a dedicated photo editor like GIMP, that’s not too much of an issue.
For that Gwenview-style experience on a GNOME desktop, you want to download gThumb. The app isn’t the default image viewer (that would be Eye of GNOME), but it adheres to GNOME 3’s modern design language so closely that you could mistakenly believe it were.
gThumb comes with quite a few additional editing options, such as tweaking colors and applying a few filters.
The tagging functionality is a tad different. In this case, you can organize photos into catalogs and selections, in addition to traditional folders and good old-fashioned bookmarks.
Picasa offered a simple and pretty way to browse your pictures, and that’s something GNOME Photos does well. The app automatically imports images from your Pictures folder and displays them in a grid. You can click on any image to view it free of clutter.
GNOME Photos is very limited. You can mark pictures as favorites and organize them into albums, but the latter is entirely separate from your existing folder hierarchy. That means that you have to organize your collection from scratch, even if you’ve already created a system that works. The interface encourages searching instead, much like GNOME Shell in general.
Gwenview is, at its core, an image viewer. If it’s missing a feature that’s important to you, KPhotoAlbum is the next step up. As the name suggests, this KDE application is intended to manage your photo collection, rather than merely show you images.
KPhotoAlbum comes with a timeline view that makes jumping through time a speedier task than digging through folders. You can organize images into categories, and you can make annotations to attach additional memories to a photograph.
With KIPI plugins installed, KPhotoAlbum can batch rename images, import from and export to a wide variety of sources, edit metadata, apply filters, and perform more advanced image edits.
Shotwell forms a nice balance between functionality and simplicity. You can browse through existing folders in a hierarchy or scroll through your entire collection in a giant grid. Whether you like to micromanage or don’t particularly care about folder structure as long as the photos are on your computer, Shotwell can adapt to your tastes.
You can tag photos, give them a rating of one to five stars, and leave comments. Instead of viewing a set of photos as a folder, Shotwell lets you organize them into events. Like an old-school GNOME/GTK application, there is quite a bit of functionality hidden behind the simple interface.
This far down the list, you may have noticed that many of the options look a bit same-y. That’s the Linux way of doing things. For the most part, users like applications that integrate with their desktop environment of choice.
Darktable bucks this trend. It has its own dark interface that looks the same regardless of what desktop environment you call home.
As for who should use Darktable, this is a good option for people who want to make extensive edits. You can use the application to browse through photos, but this is a piece of software geared towards taking a picture you’re not quite happy with and turning it into something that pops.
Many consider digiKam the best photo management application available for Linux. Some consider it the best option on any desktop operating system, period.
For Linux-using professional photographers, this is the place to start. DigiKam will import RAW files, manage metadata, apply tags, create labels, and turn your terabytes of photos into something manageable.
That’s not to say that digiKam is overly intimidating. There’s a lot of functionality here, but if you just want to browse through folders and make the occasional touch-up, none of the extra features should get in your way.
Maybe you used Picasa because it imported photos from your camera without much fuss. Many of the options above can do the same, but if you want complete control over the process, I highly recommend Rapid Photo Downloader. This little piece of awesomeness lets you determine exactly how to structure your folders and name each photo that comes off your camera. Once it’s done, you can proceed to load up the images in your photo manager of choice.
Did You Use Picasa on Linux?
Before I switched to Linux, Picasa was my favorite photo management tool. After I got acquainted with my new operating system, I found I didn’t miss Google’s software all that much — there were plenty of good alternatives to pick from. What I’ve listed above isn’t even a comprehensive list — a number of other options are out there.
Considering the Picasa “port” was really just the Windows version running under Wine, you could say all of the alternatives provided a better experience, regardless of the available features. But there is something to be said for using the same application across different operating systems., especially if you sync your photos across multiple machines.
Did you use Picasa on Linux? Did you hunt around for .debs and .rpms after Google ended support in 2012? Does seeing Google officially end support across all platforms bring back old memories? You’re among people who understand, so feel free to share your thoughts!
Image Credits:penguin runs by Anton_Ivanov via Shutterstock