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Disk Space

I can’t believe the Ubuntu Desktop Team Meeting Minutes. They are dangerously close to drop the GIMP from their CD. Read the detailed transcript further below in that document, between [17:33] and [17:45] how the team leader tables the motion to drop the GIMP. Either they didn’t discuss all their sources of information or they are using the wrong criteria. Disk space?

Amongst Wakoopa users GIMP is the most popular image editor and #24 most used software on Linux. Dropping it would make the CD nearly useless. And when looking on Wakoopa at the top software list, the top applications are, unsurprisingly:

  1. web browsing (25% of the apps listed in the top twenty are web browsers!)
  2. file browsing
  3. instant messaging
  4. word processing
  5. social networking
  6. gaming
  7. email
  8. image editing (it’s Adobe Photoshop, #16, but nevertheless: users want image editing)

Granted, Wakoopa may not be the most reliable source. It’s a subset of the consumers world. Canonical can and should afford professional analysis of the kind offered by NPD. Or it could do some aggregate usage statistics on its own user base. Why a random roll of dices?

If the Ubuntu Desktop Team is really concerned about user experience and disk space, maybe they should consider how the system overall affect disk usage (not only the CD).

At some point in the recent past I ran out of space on my Ubuntu install. My workstation’s disk is partitioned for multiple operating systems and within Ubuntu there are a few user accounts. Investigating the issue I found that the .thumbnail folder was bloated beyond 2GB. Multiply this over the half dozen users and you get the picture.

$ cd
$ rm -fr .thumbnails

Temporarily solved the problem. Unfortunately I did not find any system-wide option to prevent this from happening again. I had to resort to heavy-handed methods:

$ ln -s /dev/null .thumbnails


$ chmod 000 .thumbnails
$ sudo chown root:root .thumbnails

Repeat for each user. I am missing a way to kindly ask the system not to waste my resources. Indeed in both cases the first reaction of the applications was that this must be an error. Can’t they imagine that this is intentional choice?f-spot_fatal


F-Spot is useless (it quits after the error message). At least the GIMP continues and work well. It has even a preference setting:


And in the Ubuntu Desktop Team F-Spot is considered as a replacement for the GIMP? Oh, please! What will we see next? Winbuntu? Ubuvista?

What I would like to see next is the GIMP taking seriously the criticism about its user interface. Make it more efficient (i.e. it should take less clicks, less keystrokes, less moving time, less thinking time to accomplish a task);  make it modular so that it is possible to present a “light” basic interface to the casual user and a fully fledged interface for the heavy user. Not a new idea, but it does not have to be new to work?

5 Responses

  1. I think the reasoning is that for most users, F-Spot is sufficient. They are certainly not saying that F-Spot should replace The Gimp, merely that many people don’t use The Gimp, as F-Spot does just fine for them. Therefore, perhaps The Gimp is not absolutely necessary *on the Live CD*. However, if you WANT The Gimp and it’s not on the install CD, there will be absolutely nothing stopping you from opening up Synaptic and installing it from there. The Gimp itself is not being discontinued.

    They are pushed for space on the install CD with only 700Mb and, unless they move up to a DVD with 4Gb, something’s got to give. I think saying the CD would be nearly useless without The Gimp is maybe a wee bit extreme?

  2. I suppose the “CD” means the liveCD, in which case the .thumbnail directory is irrelevant (at least, I hope ubuntu’s livecd comes with an empty one ;) ) And I also believe that apps such as F-Spot can cover 95% of editing use cases of 95% of users.

  3. RIOT!!!!

    Seriously though, I’m guessing that they’re thinking Fspot as a replacement because average joe / mary user organises their photos but doesn’t edit them. Still, Gimp is one of the handful of shining open source jewels used by end users across all platforms that nearly everyone has at least heard of.

    It would be a deep shame to have it dropped from the CD.

    By the way, GIMP’s UI woes *are* *finally* being looked at. Check out the video of the Talk Peter Sikking (of Gimp) gave at the Libre Graphics Meeting. You can see it at: http://river-valley.tv/media/conferences/lgm2009/0202-Peter_Sikking/ after 25:40.

    Now wouldn’t that be ironic to have Gimp’s UI finally overhauled just as it was removed from the largest Linux distro around… *sigh*

  4. @Bugsbane

    Yuv was there when Peter was giving the talk :-P

  5. Indeed I was there :)

    @Bugsbane: to be honest I don’t expect much based on the GIMP-UI talk.

    I talked at LGM with some GIMP developers about a very simple efficiency issue and I have the impression that my message did not come across. As in: “you are just trying to make GIMP Photoshop-like”.

    I very much prefer Mike Terry’s approach. The Kinematic Templates are a brilliant innovation (and with multitouch screens they will have fabulous applications), and so is the adaptive function subset which as far as I could see was met with skepticism / resistance.

    Single-Window-Mode (which is what Peter Sikking seems focused on) makes little difference IMO. It is where the menus and tools are docked that makes the difference and if you ask me I would use a “frame mode”, with the menu and the tools safely docked on the four sides of the display so that targeting them is faster. And reduce the number of entries in menus (particularly context menus), so that reading them and choosing the appropriate one is faster.

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