4 Great Tools for Editing RAW Photos in Linux

Tim Brookes 06-04-2011

These days most digital SLR cameras include the ability to shoot in RAW, an uncompressed image format that gives you great control over a number of photographic variables. This can vary from the basics like white balance and exposure; to curve adjustment, lens vignetting and more.


As a semi-serious photographer and Linux user, you’ll be forgiven for feeling a bit left out when it comes to post-processing. Whilst Adobe Photoshop (and fantastic Camera RAW module How To Edit RAW Photos in Adobe Camera Raw Read More ) happily chugs along in Windows or Mac OS, unless you’re prepared to put up with WINE Run Windows Applications on Linux (or Mac) With WINE Read More you’ll be looking for something a little more native.

Here are 4 free solutions for getting the most out of your photography on a Linux machine.

A Quick Word About RAW

If you’ve bought a digital SLR camera in the last 5 years or so, there’s a good chance it can capture photos in the RAW image format. Depending on the size of your camera’s sensor, these files can be roughly two to three times the size of your average high quality JPEG.

editing raw photos linux

Whilst it is possible to open JPEG files in some RAW editors, the compression and lack of data stored within a JPEG simply does not compare it to RAW. If your camera does shoot RAW and you haven’t experimented yet then I’d urge you to give it a go.


Once you’ve transferred your RAWs to your computer, you’ll need an editor. With an editor you can change (within reason) most aspects of your photographs in a way JPEG doesn’t allow. Speaking from experience, it’s amazing how well some of your worst shots scrub up after a 10 minute edit!

Note: Where possible, Ubuntu instructions for installing via repositories have been provided.


editing photos linux

An incredibly powerful RAW editor, Photivo handles nearly every RAW format and BMP files with startling ease. The interface could do with some work, but with literally hundreds of processing techniques at your disposal it’s clear that the open-source project is being taken in the right direction.


If you’re a fan of GIMP Batch Edit Your Images with GIMP Read More for your photo editing (and let’s face it, using Linux you don’t exactly have a choice) then you’ll also like the way Photivo is able to send modified photos directly to GIMP for retouching, with correct EXIF data What EXIF Photo Data Is, How to Find It & How to Understand It Pretty much every digital camera available today records EXIF data within each image you take. The data is useful for improving your photography and can also be quite interesting, especially if you're a geek. Read More and colour profiles.

The developers claim that Photivo uses the most advanced image manipulation algorithms available, though this powerful and complex tool is geared more towards power users and those with prior RAW experience, rather than complete newbies.

Ubuntu install, in Terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dhor/myway
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install photivo

Raw Therapee

editing photos linux


Not the most intuitive program to use at first, Raw Therapee is a fairly feature rich and comprehensive RAW editor that’s compatible with Linux. At the time of writing, the team are working on a stable release of version 3.0, which is a major release for the project.

Due to this, the team are keen to hear from anyone who uses the software and encounters bugs and such. The forum is a great place to start, you can report bugs, learn about current and upcoming features and find detailed discussions about compiling Raw Therapee from source.

There are also versions of the application for Windows and Mac OS X, for those interested.


editing photos linux


Rawstudio offers a decent amount of control over your RAW photographs and supports a wide number of filetypes. Using the sliders it is easy to alter exposure, curves and so on, as well as colour management thanks to Little CMS.

You can convert your RAWs to JPEG, PNG and TIFF image formats, and what’s more you can batch process a whole collection of images in one go. Rawstudio can be compiled from source, or download pre-compiled OpenSUSE or Ubuntu packages.

Ubuntu install, in Terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:rawstudio/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install rawstudio


editing raw photos linux

Unidentified Flying RAW (or UFRaw for short) is a dedicated RAW image editor based on GTK+. It can be used as an application on its own or as a plugin for GIMP (simply open a RAW image in GIMP to be presented with the UFRaw editor window).

The software is especially beneficial to Nikon users as it can easily read the camera’s tone curves (Canon and other users can still apply a Nikon curve to their image if desired). Unfortunately sharpening and the ability to embed EXIF data into images from certain (more obscure) camera brands is still not present.

UFRaw is available in ready-to-install packages for a plethora of Linux distributions The Best Linux Distros for First Time Switchers From Windows and Mac Linux has an intimidating image, making it seem like it would be difficult to start using it. But the switch from Windows and Mac is actually pretty easy, if you can ease yourself into it. Read More and other operating systems, along with detailed install instructions.

Ubuntu install, in Terminal:

sudo apt-get install ufraw


Whilst these applications don’t offer you the immense amount of customization and sheer tweak-ability of Photoshop’s in-built Camera RAW editor, they should at least make post-processing on Linux a bit easier.

If you yourself favour any particular RAW editing program we’ve not featured here, let us know.

Do you shoot in RAW? Do you edit RAW photos in Linux? Let us know in the comments below.

Related topics: Image Editor, Photography.

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  1. Johan
    December 18, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    You should also try Darktable.

  2. Jon Charnas
    April 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    There's also LightZone (non-free), and supposedly digikam does basic RAW editing as well.

  3. Nick
    April 9, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Bibble! Sure it's commercial but if you get it with the full Noise Ninja licence it's marvellous. I'm using it over Photoshop these days.

  4. doofus
    April 9, 2011 at 12:12 am

    windows sucks

  5. Gyucism
    April 7, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    How about some open source solutions for windows. The ones I have found don't seem to handle some for the newer raw formats.

    • Aibek
      April 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

      Google Picasa?

    • Aibek
      April 19, 2011 at 11:34 am

      Oh sorry, i see you asked for Open Source