How To Use a Digital Camera With Linux

Chris Hoffman 31-10-2012

digital cameras linuxThe days when working with digital cameras and other common consumer hardware on Linux was a chore that involved fiddling with terminal commands are over. Using a digital camera with modern Linux distributions like Ubuntu is an extremely simple process. In fact, the built-in software on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions The Best Linux Operating Distros The best Linux distros are hard to find. Unless you read our list of the best Linux operating systems for gaming, Raspberry Pi, and more. Read More is better than Windows for this, as it allows you to easily do basic photo-editing and upload your photos to web services.


The following instructions work on Ubuntu. Other Linux distributions may include a few different programs, but everything should work similarly and be very simple – assuming you’re not using a super geeky Linux distribution that disables this stuff, of course.

Getting Photos Off Your Digital Camera

When you connect your digital camera to Linux using its included USB cable – just like you would on Windows – you’ll see a prompt asking you what you want to do. You can open a photo management program like Shotwell Shotwell - The Future of Linux Photo Management Software It's taken a long time, but finally the future of Linux photo managers is looking up. It's all thanks to amazing new photo management software called Shotwell. Read More (included by default in Ubuntu and many other new Linux distributions) or open the digital camera’s storage in your file manager.

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You can browse the photos on your digital camera in Shotwell. To get all the photos off your digital camera and onto your Linux computer, right-click the camera in Shotwell’s sidebar and select Import All. To grab only some photos, select them and use the Import Selected option.

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You can also browse the photos on your digital camera from your Linux distribution’s file manager. It will work just like using a USB drive, so you can easily copy files off the camera and onto your computer.

digital camera linux

If you don’t have a USB cable that fits your digital camera, you can also eject your digital camera’s SD card and insert it into your computer’s SD card slot (assuming your computer has an SD card reader.) You’ll be able to grab photos off the SD card in the same ways.

Basic Photo Editing

You can do some basic photo editing right in Shotwell. Shotwell includes tools for rotating, cropping, and straightening images, as well as performing red-eye correction and color adjustment. There’s also a one-click Enhance button that tries to make the image more vivid.


To edit an image with Shotwell, locate it in in Shotwell’s library and double-click it.

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Shotwell’s tools are quick and easy to use. They’re ideal for basic photo touch-ups.

use digital camera linux


Advanced Photo Editing

If you need to do more advanced photo editing, you’ll need another application. The most full-featured photo editor for Linux is the GIMP image editor Top 10 Beginner Video Tutorials to Learn GIMP Fast Read More . It may not be installed by default (it isn’t on Ubuntu), but you can install it from your Linux distribution’s software repositories – for example, in Ubuntu, open the Ubuntu Software Center application, search for GIMP, and click the install button.

After you have, you can locate your imported photos in the Pictures folder (or wherever else you stored them) in your file manager. Right-click a photo and use the Open With menu to open it in another installed photo editor, such as the GIMP.

use digital camera linux

The GIMP provides many more photo editing tools, allowing you to apply all sorts of effects and perform other image-editing operations. It’s the closest thing to Photoshop on Linux An Idiot's Guide to Installing Photoshop CS5 on Ubuntu 10.04 Read More .


use digital camera linux

Uploading and Sharing Your Photos

Once you’ve grabbed your photos off your digital camera and edited them to your satisfaction, you’re ready to upload them to web services, email them, and share them with your friends. You can upload these photos to websites just as you would on Windows – just browse to the Pictures folder when uploading a file.

To easily upload photos to a variety of web services, you can also use Shotwell’s image uploader. Simply select some photos in your library and click the Publish button.


You’ll be able to upload them to a variety of services, including Facebook, Flickr, and Google’s Picasa Web Albums.

digital cameras linux

These aren’t the only programs you can use on Linux – not by a long shot. You could use different applications The Best Linux Software and Apps Whether you're new to Linux or you're a seasoned user, here are the best Linux software and apps you should be using today. Read More  to import and edit your photos. You could even do this all from the command line with terminal commands. But this should give you an idea of what you’re in for – Linux distributions include software to make working with digital cameras easy.

Want to take better photos? Download our free Essential Guide to Digital Photography A Beginner's Guide To Digital Photography Digital photography is a great hobby, but it can be intimidating, too. This beginner's guide will tell you everything you need to know to get started! Read More . Or, to learn more about Linux, download Ubuntu: An Absolute Beginner’s Guide Ubuntu: A Beginner's Guide Curious about Ubuntu, but not sure where to start? Everything you could possibly need to get started with the latest version of Ubuntu is right here, written in easy-to-understand, plain English. Read More .

What programs do you use to import photos from your digital camera, edit them, and upload them to the web on Linux? Leave a comment and share your favorites!

Image Credit: Compact Digital Camera via Shutterstock

Related topics: Digital Camera, GIMP, Image Editor, Photo Sharing, Photography.

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  1. metarhyme
    June 8, 2017 at 11:38 pm

    Shotwell is unable to deal with my Sony digital camera - I can't access its photographs. I will have to continue to use Irfanview in Windows. Another Linux botch - keep hoping for tomorrow?

  2. Boni Oloff
    November 4, 2012 at 10:44 am

    Even Linux is very difficult to used, they still many fans.. Even Photographer.. :D

  3. Nikhil Chandak
    November 1, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    amazing article
    I did not knew how to use a digital camera on Linux !

  4. Efi Dreyshner
    November 1, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Thanks (:
    The biggest problem is the drivers...
    First, you need to make sure that Linux will recognize the camera...

    • Chris Hoffman
      November 7, 2012 at 5:46 pm

      I haven't had any problems with cameras. Cameras use pretty standardized protocols, just like USB sticks, in my experience.

  5. Félix S. De Jesús
    November 1, 2012 at 3:09 am

    I want to adapt to that OS to get rid of Windows... LOL!!

    • Lisa Santika Onggrid
      November 1, 2012 at 4:31 am

      It's easier than you might think. Try some live distros, pick one that plays nice with your hardware, and here you go.

      Thank you MUO. I haven't tried connecting my camera to Linux.

  6. Adrian Rea
    November 1, 2012 at 1:27 am

    Thanks Chris, I tend to use GIMP for photo manipulation but I see some could be done with Shotwell

  7. Besian Cato
    October 31, 2012 at 10:33 pm

    nice article :) it may come useful