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The Gimp

New GIMP Book Under Open Publication License 97

Carey Bunks wrote to tell us that last week, "a new GIMP site,, has come online and is making available the complete text of the recently released book Grokking the GIMP . This new GIMP resource, written by me and published by New Riders, has been released under an Open Publication License. The goals of are to provide high-level educational and practical resources for the GIMP, and to promote its skillful and knowledgeable use."

It's good to see high-quality books on open source software, and this one is well-organized, thorough and profusely illustrated. It happens to make a great online GIMP tutorial as well.

Note: as you might expect, many of the Web pages that make up the book are image-heavy (as you might expect), so if you're on a slow connection, browse the detailed, outline-format table of contents carefully.

And if you do have the bandwidth, you can slurp down the entire book to browse later. When's the last time you read a book that came as an HTML tarball?

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New GIMP Book Under Open Publication License

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    The animating GIF would be OK if there weren't long intervals between the movement of the eyes. It's unnerving!

    I looked at the gif and its eyes were pointed at me, I looked away then back at the screen again and its eyes were pointed down. I thought I was having a flash back then I realized I've never done LSD.
  • Could someone who already has it (preferably many someones) please mirror the handy tarball from that site to ease the load and get us our books faster?
  • Same here, I thought it was my video card choking on a scroll bar click, or something else mouse related like the way the king's eyes shift in Freecell. You look at it and it doesn't move and doesn't move and just when you think it isn't going to move it startles the bejeepers out of you.
  • Sometimes the way you say things influences the way people take what you have to say.
  • Apparently another benefit of the late hour (east coast U.S.) is that among the moderators present are fewer of the type we've had too many of lately.
  • I didn't know that, went over and registered my site straight away (which has been OPL'd since the beginning).


    tom, MandrakeUser.Org []

  • O'reilly already does [] this and their book on samba [] has been online for some time. It just got converted to HTML/PDF though.

  • If you don't like wading through menus, click the little line at the top of the filter menu (or any other menu). This lets you "tear it off", and floats the menu. Tada! No more wading! Does any version of Photoshop allow that?
  • Weird.. your post is a near perfect paraphrase of mine!

    I guess that means I don't have to worry about being wrong!
  • Of course, if you actually like PDF, you can run all that HTML through HTMLDOC and get a fairly spiffy PDF book out of it.
  • I thought OPL was yamaha's thing <g>
  • And there is definitely something sinister behind those moving eyes...

    Is it still there? []
  • How many people actually write books (that are more than a few pages) directly in HTML? This GIMP book was originally in TeX.
    Is the TeX source available? I'd rather have that than HTML.
  • That is the file I got from their site. It showed the transfer at 100% complete. Testing the archive, I got the same error, but going through the documents, I see no evidence of anything missing. In retrospect, I wish I had checked the file beforehand so I could have mentioned the problem before anyone downloaded a 27 meg file, but seeing how it seemed to work ok, and the fact that the original site was still swamped, I decided not to remove it.

    If this was poor judgement, my apologies.

  • I would provide a mirror (as would others I'd presume) if not for one minor issue... its going to take me 7 hours to download it at the 900 bytes per second I'm currently getting. Somewhat ironic comment about having the bandwidth to download the tarball. *I* have the bandwidth. Its just that they don't. :)

    Oh well, in 24 hours it will be off of slashdot's main page and the site will settle back to a non-slashdot effect mode. :)

  • Now that its not on the main page anymore, the site will probably clear up and mirrors won't be necessary anymore.

    But despite that, here's one mirror: ar.gz

    Be gentle. :)

  • Well, at least according to The New Hacker's Dictionary [], this is a legitimate use of the word parse.
  • This is a much needed development. The Gimp Users Manual, while at least being substantial documentation, was rather insoluble when I looked at it. I was trying to learn script-fu, and the examples it gave didn't work (!).

    Hopefully now I'll be able to tell my workmates to go and read about the GIMP....
  • by psergiu ( 67614 )

    The document contained no data
    Try again later, or contact the server's administrator


    Mirrors anyone ? Please ? Preety please ? (come on, you'll get a +5 Informative for posting the mirrors)
  • I wish people would support their facts when they make comments like this.

    The truth is that the rest of the computing community *is* paying attention to software like the Gimp. See Advanced Imaging Magazine, January 2000, "Commercial Imaging: Going Linux, too - How graphics designers, digital photographers and video editors are plugging into a world only recently reserved for technicians," a two page article plus screen caps primarily about the Gimp. (They interviewed yours truely for this spread.) This is a highly respected trade publication in the graphics world. (But alas, they don't archive their articles online so I can't provide a url).

    Second, people even in the Windows world are switching to Gimp quite rapidly and if you paid attention to the Gimp email lists, you'd know that. Adobe Photoshop costs $609. Gimp is free and has all the features plus some (except CMYK color which is a patent issue).

    Sure, if you're using a Gimp v.1.0x, you don't get any features. So download the CVS versions (1.1.1x) and you'll find that it is an elegant and sophisticated graphics editor.

    Just my two cents. And I figure I can speak with some authority. I use Gimp professionally all day long.
  • I noticed a few weeks ago a distinct lack of moderation for about a week. My own moderator privileges were occurring much less often then as well. I'm guessing They musta cut back on the moderator points handed out. Recently we've been back to about the normal amount of moderation that I've seen in the past I think.

    Oh well, I'm sure there's a picky early bird moderator or two who could get me.
  • Why does support in the industry mean that the program isn't good?

    I'm not saying that it's a factor in the quality of the software as much as it's one of the reasons people are not using it. The PSD file format is pretty much as portable (except for TIF and PS) as you get in the graphics world. Gimp supports it with a plugin but it's not native.

    Actually, the biggest problem is the lack of a stable Win32 port. And that's a fact.


    -- polish ccs mirror []
  • Sounds like someone has already done some thinking on the subject. Has anyone put up (on the web)an analysis of these licenses a la the ones for sofware licenses at the GNU site? It would be a useful thing to have, if only to flame and argue over .8-(
  • GNU Make? That's a texinfo book, like for instance the GNU Emacs manual. HTML is one of the various supported output formats. Info is another one. Better still, you can run it through tex and get a really-good looking book. The GNU Emacs manual is printed in this way, and it looks really good--all six hundred pages of it.
  • Does anyone know what the significant differences between the OpenContent license (which this book) is distributed under) and the GNU FDL, which there was a story about on Slashdot a couple of days ago? I looked at it briefly, and the only thing that struck me was the must-be-supplied-in-source-format-as-well clause in the GNU one, but I could be wrong.
  • IIRC you need to patch your X server. Check out Wacom's driver download page.
  • I cut my graphics-design teeth on Photoshop for Mac, and I've found GIMP easier to work with. Aside from including more filters, it lets you "undo" more.

    The author demonstrated some projects from the book last month at my local LUG meeting []. He presented without assuming that we had a graphic arts background (I can't draw). I think this is promissing.

  • I also got the EOF error from the mirror (I was only able to connect from Linux, my (faster) mac connection via Fetch or browsers wouldn't work - is it set up to reject clients based on platform?).

    However, going at it with tar xfzv Grokking-the-GIMP-v1.0.tar.gz got most of it out, maybe all of it. I'm browsing it right now and so far it seems intact. It may be that just the last image got mangled, or the tar itself.

  • This book looks great. In general, more technical books need to made available online. Right now, the web seems well-suited as a reference guide for technical info, but there are few topics for which you can find a complete, book-like read on the net. The Gimp is no longer one of those!

    Multiplayer Strategy []
  • It's also great for people like me in the UK - it's nice to see a new article here for when I get into work at 9am. Otherwise I can just wade through all the stories posted while I'm tucked up in bed, and it's not worth posting at that point even if I've got something to say.

  • Not directly computer related, but you can download free books from the Project Gutenberg []. Also, if you have a scanner and lots of free time, you can contribute to their online library...

  • "informative
    and educational"
    Well thats good then, I'd hate to be informative without beeing educational. Or Educational without beeing informative. That would be a real danger. :)
  • It's not the same file:

    sirppi% wget MP-v1.0.tar.gz
    --22:02:11-- -GIMP-v1.0.tar.gz
    => `Grokking-the-GIMP-v1.0.tar.gz'
    Connecting to connected!
    HTTP request sent, awaiting response... 200 OK
    Length: 28,182,939 [application/x-tar]

    The file I downloaded from your site is 27,893,760 bytes. Well, I'm downloading it myself at the moment (whee, at 150k already :)

  • gunzip: Grokking-the-GIMP-v1.0.tar.gz: unexpected end of file

    .. are you sure the file is ok?

  • claimed the internet was dead simply because it was now filled with so many commercial and useless websites. After contemplating his remarks I found it hard not to disagree at least to some extent. But on the other hand when something like this comes along it makes me look on the bright side again...

    Yes, so that more people can learn to effecively use the the GIMP to create more commercial and useless websites:)

  • I suppose we will have to disagree here; I've always liked menus in that style (same as Afterstep, etc.). There's an old joke that says:

    You: Come here
    Dog: OK, arf arf drool

    You: Come here
    Cat: Why should I come over there? Why don't YOU come over HERE?

    I feel like the menu should always be right under my fingertips, and I shouldn't have to move up to the top of the screen, where some designer decided the menu should be. Also, as others have pointed out, you can float the menus (I hadn't heard of that one before, but I mostly do audio; it's cool though).
  • How about opensource movies and TV shows? This would be a cool way for us to see what we want to see.

    I would say open source music, but anyone can make music anyways. has an open source T-Shirt, for those interested in opensourceing everything.

  • Parsing is what my cgi scripts do... you are just having trouble connecting the syntax/grammar with my intended meaning of these statements. Sorry for the confusion. I read it myself, and become utterly confounded.

    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC []
  • I hope to see more authors embracing this new lisence. Its great for the community. What other forms of media/whatever do you think an open source format could be applied?
  • Why the hell do people like you even bother reading slashdot? Learn to act responsibly and actualy CONTRIBUTE something to this great community instead of acting like a childish loser ass @#%$^%&@&. I mean come on, if you dont have anything inteligent to say, dont waste my time by making me have to scroll past your lame ass "wanna be first post" to get to the REAL stuff. And I apologize for wasting everyone else's time with this retorte, but I for one am getting sick of wasting my time on these people. Maz
  • I was very impressed with GIMP the first time I saw it. I'm still quite impressed with it, but I find it a bit lacking when it comes to painting. It doesn't have a brush shaped cursor, so its very hard to work out where you're painting, and there don't seem to be enough tools.

    So anyway, the question is what has changed since earlier versions? Most of it seems to be bug fixes.
  • Last time I read a book online? How about the whole of Mind you this is a good thing because:

    1. It saves trees.
    2. I can have the book wherever I go (so long as I have my laptop) without having to carry it and my laptop.
    3. Even when I don't have my own computer I can still read it if I have a computer with internet access.
    4. It is free (if I had to pay I would probably never read it).
    5. Its the best of both worlds. If I want a paper copy I can print it.
  • Thanks for that explanation :-)
  • Well, since the Gimp is open source, it should be possible for somebody to add this in.

    What was the rest of your comment, it seems to have been chopped off ?

  • Nice of them to do that, but if it becomes too widespread I think it will become a victim of it's own success, where publishers will notice a sharp drop in sales because of it.

  • GNU Make? That's a texinfo book,

    True, but the version I read was an HTML tar-ball. (at least I think it was a tarball - I know it was HTML).

    How many people actually write books (that are more than a few pages) directly in HTML? This GIMP book was originally in TeX.

    You are write about the beauty of texinfo, but for me HTML is the most useful output for my current needs. I was planning on buying a printed copy of the make book, but I couldn't find a copy in Australia, and Dymocks couldn't even order it for me. Oh well, it's not like it's the type of thing I'll ever need to read while I'm away from a computer.

  • I would like to see more books' content made available on the internet. As I am sure would many others. Major publishers such as O'Reilly take note.
  • Speaking of which, I've used Photoshop on SGI.. what's the big deal with porting from Irix to Linux? What's the hold-up?

    Last I checked, active PhotoShop for Unix (Irix and Solaris) development finished at around 2.5.1 or 3.0. So ther isn't a contemporary code base to port to Linux (unlike FrameMaker and Distiller). Moreover, Adobe have only decided Linux constitutes some sort of real platform they can make money with in the last few months, with the aforementioned Frame and Distiller ports (as opposed to the Acrobat Reader ports, which are to nearly every platform that still has any kind of ongoing development).

    Even with Adobe moving some of their existing Unix products to Linux, I still can't see them porting PhotoShop any time soon. If they didn't think it was worth keeping on the heavily graphics-desktop oriented Irix, I doubt they'll see much value in Linux. BICBW.

    On-topic, it is nice to see more Gimp documentation - one of the big problems anyone trying to provide a PShop alternative has is that most people in the graphic arts industry aren't taught about image manipulation (as they were in the pre-digital area), they are taught "PhotoShop"; most courses and books purporting to be about image manipulation and the liek are little more than PhotoShop HOWTOs, so its gratifying to see some substantive alternatives.

  • I use a small Wacom ArtPad 2 as my primary pointing device because it's a lot easier on my wrist than a mouse. This has the nice side effect of being able to draw and erase pressure-sensitively in the GIMP. It is necessary, however, to recompile your GTK+ toolkit with XInput Extensions enabled. After this is done, it works like a charm.

    The latest version of the driver supports even the multiple input Intuos series of tablets. It is available at [].

  • Although this book is under the Open Content license, both of the options of that license were elected, which makes the book not open source. No substantive modifications are permitted without the copyright holder's permission, and no print versions are permitted without the copyright holder's permission.

    OK, it's better than nothing, but I would have liked to see the same set of rights as the software.



  • Well, the Open Publication License (which is the one on this book, I keep getting confused too) is really 4 licenses, depending on the options you choose. Only one of those licenses is free in the GNU sense.


  • Hello,

    Am not sure why they are endosing Amazon. You can also buy the book at Barnes and Noble for $31.99.

    Grokking the Gimp []

    Other Gimp Books []
  • timothy asked: "When's the last time you read a book that came as an HTML tarball?"

    Sun has for a while had on their Java website a freely downloadable tutorial, html zipped or tarballed. Bruce Eckel at
    has freely downloadable books in html (or links to PDF) on Java and C++, Thinking in Java and Thinking in C++. He also makes drafts of his next editions available as he writes them. For that matter so does Sun with the Java tutorials.

    Of course the Free Software Foundation makes available their manuals in all sorts of downloadable formats including html.
  • Most people prefer to sit at their computer with a printed manual "on their knee", so to speak.

    Personally, I find that 90% of the book I only read once, and don't need anymore. The remaining 10%, I print when I need to reference it. It's more compact that way, too, and easier to carry around.

    Plus, someone's bound to make a good electronic book device, eventually. :-)

    If no-one else can make printed versions, then other people's hard work updating the manual will be at the mercy of the original copyright holder.

    If an author allowed for modifications, but didn't allow for printed distribution, then the community could "fork" the docs! Printed versions would still be forbidden, but the online version could be maintained, yet.

    I think it does actually work. If I am the author of the GIMP manual, you'd be more likely to pay me to do technical support than if I was just any old GIMP developer. I've proved that I have the communication skills that the job requires, *and* good knowledge of the GIMP.

    The average decision maker won't give much thought at a "publication" unless it's been "published", as in a book. If you say that you've written some popular online work, it won't carry nearly as much weight, I believe.

  • ...and no print versions are permitted without the copyright holder's permission.

    While I agree that modifications and updates would be handy, should the author not keep up with the times, I disagree with the idea that a work must allow print reproductions to be considered "open".

    Why? Because of the financial realities. Technical documentation isn't like software, where you can make money off of support, and custom enhancements. So, the only way to make money, and thus finance the endeavor, is to have a monopoly on the print reproductions.

    Of course, if you can point out ways to finance documentation of free software, that don't rely upon print sales, I'll be happy to be corrected. Especially since you're actually in the field of capitalizing businesses. :-)

    I don't count charity as a business model, though.

  • The GIMP is just amazing... I remember 0.99 when I first downloaded it and though "hmmm.... this is kinda neat." Now (i.e. 1.1.18) this program is fucking PHAT! I can't believe how quickly GIMP has gone from a decent paint program to the best photo editor and straight up computer graphics program around. Once they fix a few small issues with the path tool, this program will be perfect.

    Gimp was actually the reason my friend converted from MacOS to Linux yesterday. He's big-time into computer graphics and used Illustrator and Photoshop all the time - now he's a Gimp fiend. He had been using Gimp on my computer and finally broke down and wiped MacOS off his PowerBook (which I'm now using while lying in bed reading /. - he doesn't want to bring it to his dorm because he's afraid it'll get stolen so he leaves it at my house :-) Anyway, back to the Gimp. Gimp has some crazy features that even Photoshop and Illustrator don't (badass plugins, better gradient tool, better-than-photoshop-and-almost-as-good-as-illust rator path tool, great patterns, etc...) - and even better, it's free. I love it :-)

    And now with this book online (which is downloading way too slowly right now - damn you people), it's a good time to be a Linux user :-) (yeah, yeah, FreeBSD, et al, too :-) As that British guy in "The Man Who Knew Too Little" says, "Happy days, Hawkins... happy days." (that's a phat movie, by the way. If you're not quite obsessed enough to boycott the MPAA, rent it)

    Ergh... enough of this ramble. You can go back to reading about hot grits and listening to 11 year-olds ramble off all the swears they can spell.

    "Software is like sex- the best is for free"
    -Linus Torvalds
  • As the psd format plugin is a standard plugin that comes with every gimp installation, I'd say that it's natively supported. I don't think any image format is built in, with the exception of the gimps one.

    But yes, the reason its not used in the industry isn't because it sucks, but because it's not a Windows program
  • It's pretty well accepted that the GIMP is only as good as photoshop when it comes to doing web graphics, although that is being changed (afaik there's some cmyk work being done, and some fancy project I've seen (but can't remember what it did))

    I do contend with your first point though. Why does support in the industry mean that the program isn't good?
  • Have you used the most recent release, it has an extremely interesting GUI feature which would solve your access problem straight away. Open your image, right client on the image, go down to the filters menu, and hit the line "----" at the top of the menu for filters.

    The filters menu will promptly detach and become a single seperate window, accessible instantly. You can do this with any menu you feel is appropriate. Several steps ahead of Photoshop :)

  • The average decision maker won't give much thought at a "publication" unless it's been "published", as in a book.

    True, but free manuals can be published in print format, too. In fact, it's *more* likely that a good free manual will get printed even if the authors don't actively try to make this happen, because the (prospective) publisher can see how popular it is online, then fiddle with the texinfo file a bit, then sell it.

    Of course, the author(s) *can* make an active effort to get the manual printed and sold, and get some royalties in return for the word "official" slapped on the cover.

  • I disagree with the idea that a work must allow print reproductions to be considered "open".

    I think this is an important freedom for software docs. Most people prefer to sit at their computer with a printed manual "on their knee", so to speak. If no-one else can make printed versions, then other people's hard work updating the manual will be at the mercy of the original copyright holder. E.g. the copyright holder might refuse to update the manual for a while, because this would render lots of printed copies "obsolete". Or they might stop printing the manual for "business reasons" (say if Adobe pays them to take the book off the market). Without the freedom to print, everyone else's work would then be stuck in an unprintable file.
    Technical documentation isn't like software, where you can make money off of support

    I think it does actually work. If I am the author of the GIMP manual, you'd be more likely to pay me to do technical support than if I was just any old GIMP developer. I've proved that I have the communication skills that the job requires, *and* good knowledge of the GIMP.
  • HTML may be OK for displaying on-screen, it really sucks bigtime for anything that has to be printed out.

    For most computer related books, I'd rather have a kilogram of paper sitting right next to me on my desk, than having to read it from the screen. If I look at the books I use a lot -e.g. the bat book- which very much shows it's being (ab)used many times, I simply turn green by the thought that I would only have them on-screen or in HTML format. The single most important part of these books are the indices and TOCs, and printing an HTML file simply doesn't cut it.

    Electronically distributed books are very much a pro, but I really want them in a format which makes it easy to print them (sorry, trees ;-) and PS or PDF are two formats which accomplish that. There are plenty of tools available that can deal with these two formats.

    Okay... I'll do the stupid things first, then you shy people follow.

  • Granted this is OT and I'm sure I'll lose a little Karma.
    However I'd like to say "Yay tomothy" for posting a nice latenight article. Those of grunts work'n the late shifts appreciate getting a chance to post before the discussion has moved on.
    Thanks timothy
  • Oh my!
    That just scared the Bajizus out of me!
    I remember thinking that it moved in the past, but dismissing it to a few too many hours in front of my computer . . .

    Good call on the irony of using a GIF for the logo. I don't think it's too big of a deal either, but worth a chuckle or two.
    I'm sure the guys at would love it.
  • I dunno. I'm not too hot on Gimp for a few reasons.

    a) Gimp has almost no support in the industry. I don't know more than 2-3 people who make a living doing graphics who actually use Gimp day-to-day. And they only use it for web graphics.
    b) CMYK support is weak. From what I last remember CMYK support in Gimp is pretty much restriced to converting RGB => CMYK. If you're working in print you need to see your work in the restricted pallette that CMYK offers.
    c) Large files. I've heard many potential users complain about Gimp's handling of large files. When you start getting into 120-160MB files (posters and such) it can barely chug along while Photoshop steams on by.
    d) Color calibration. Does Gimp even have this?

    Now, I'm not saying Gimp will not own in the future, I'm just saying that it's got a way to go before being a viable alternative to the Photoshop. Especially to DTPers.


    -- polish ccs mirror []
  • If you really want to have a hardcopy of the GNU Make manual, you can order it [] from the GNU folks. It's a great way to support free software (and free manuals).
  • As a converted windows user, I was exposed for a long time to professional design packages such as Photoshop (raise you hand if you didn't know that one was coming), painter, etc.

    After using the GIMP for a couple of days and trying to do all of the same things that I used to do with my other packages, I found that it was distinctly limiting. Now, I am not speaking functionality-wise, but rather in the sense that the GUI was terribly constraining. I could not do the things that I wanted to do as fast as I would like to have done them. I particularly *hated* that the menus were hidden from me (right-click to get to the filters?? what kind of nonsense is that?).

    Until some larger companies (Adobe, Macromedia, et al) start to port their large design packages to Linux, I don't see me using it as my main OS for design purposes. Sorry.

    Speaking of which, I've used Photoshop on SGI.. what's the big deal with porting from Irix to Linux? What's the hold-up?

  • Personally, at first I thought it was eyes were to tired from reading to many posts about hot grits, natalie portman, and various other things that my mother told me would make me go blind.

    But upon a lengthy and closer examination, I noticed that the GIMPs eyes moved.

    And after some clever deduction, I realized that it must be a GIF animation.

    Then, I thought GIMP is a GIF... that's kinda interesting, considering the GNU Project's position of GIFs. [] Not really a big deal in my opinion. But still kinda funny.

    And there is definitely something sinister behind those moving eyes...

  • by Kagato ( 116051 )
  • Wasn't it just last night that I overheard the following exchange [] on the Simpsons?


    You want me to replace the villain with a dog? I mean nobody will know what's going on.

    They will if you set up that the dog is evil. All you do is have to show him doing this.

    [lowers eyelids and glances around in shifty-eyed fashion]

    The people will suspect the dog.
  • Can anyone comment on how well Waacom tablets are supported under Linux? My brother currently uses Photoshop, but he'll use whatever I tell him to (and he is a little odd, being an art major and hating Macs but liking DOS...) However, in order for Gimp+Linux to be a viable option for him, his 12x12 tablet needs to be supported, including pressure-sensitivity. The buttons along the top aren't all that critical, but PS _has_ to work.
  • Ok, there are two reasons why this is really cool, actually probably more but let me list just two.

    1) I'm not an environmentalist but this does save a few trees.

    2) I couldn't help notice a comment posted by someone a few discussion back who basically claimed the internet was dead simply because it was now filled with so many commercial and useless websites. After contemplating his remarks I found it hard not to disagree at least to some extent. But on the other hand when something like this comes along it makes me look on the bright side again...
    There is use for the internet... distribution of information that is both informative and educational. Granted there is plenty of crap out there if you go searching but putting a good book like this online restores my faith in the internet once again.

    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    NPS Internet Solutions, LLC []
  • by fishbowl ( 7759 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @04:49PM (#1206786)
    > Well, since the Gimp is open source, it should
    > be possible for somebody to add this in.

    Problem with that:

    The very process of pre-press colour management is patented and controlled by the industry in other ways. The pantone system, for example, is an industry standard method of converting additive colours to their subtractive equivalents. Unfortunately, even if you can work this into your free software, you cannot call it pantone. That's okay for some situations (I need cmyk for my colour laser printer, e.g.), but it's not going to fly for professional prepress.

    This is not just a matter of working a translation layer for colour into the software. There is an intellectual property issue. Even if you could do a colour separation with Gimp, you cannot use the results professionally without licensing which we cannot obtain.

    For web publishing, that's fine, since all we need for computer monitors is RGB+alpha. For hard publishing, it's altogether another story, and not a trivial matter at all.

    The printer needs to know, for a given ink and paper on a given press, how a colour is defined. If I have a press in michigan and a press in new york both printing the same book, magazine, cd cover, or what-have-you, I need the colours and ink textures to not only match each other, but also to match as closely as possible the original RGB image. (There are a LOT more colours possible with ink than even the best graphics systems can display, so "closely as possible" means we get the same results from different systems). Just because you have an amazingly accurate flesh tone on your monitor, does not mean that you have the information you need to get that flesh tone onto paper. And even if you could tweak one press or printer to give you the correct tones, you haven't done it for another printer, or even the same printer with different ink.

    If you can convince someone like Adobe to release a pantone plugin for gimp, some of this problem will be solved. If you have photoshop, you can do your colour separation with that and use the rgb values for gimp, but do you see something wrong with that picture?

    This problem is very similar to the problem with RSA. Someone in a free country could create a NON-US version of Gimp that has CMYK separation capabilities (which isn't hard). *BUT* it could never be legally used in the USA for prepress (commercial or not!) so no one bothers. (At least, the non-us/non-rsaref crypto has a niche where it is useful, so the community delivers that.)

    Basically, pointing out the lack of colour standardization as a shortcoming of gimp is not fair to those whose images are not destined for hardcopy press.

    I would wager a dollar that most people reading this slashdot article are using gimp to create rgb images which will remain rgb images for their entire life, and that those who criticize the lack of colour standardization in gimp are using something far more sophisticated than gimp for their prepress work.

    Furthermore, most of them end up using ONE cmyk value more than any other. (the one for black).

    It's not totally fud, but it's not really a fair criticism either. Colour standardization will not magically find it's way into gimp; and it only needs to be there for prepress purposes. Unfortunately, this includes everything from the black ink on your business card to getting your digital photograph on the cover of the Rolling Stone. Basically, if the only tool you have for your digital image is gimp, you won't be getting your picture published, or rather, you will get to pay someone else to put their grubby hands on your image before it gets printed. Do you understand the problem now?

    We haven't even touched on the font problem. Have you ever thought about why people who write books benefit from typesetting systems as opposed to word processors? Just because you can make a beautiful antialiased screen font and display it, does not mean that's the way it's going to be rendered by the printing press.

    I thought online publishing was taking over anyway. Did the revolution end, or did I miss something? Why are we still printing things on paper? Is it only to keep these patent holders fed?
  • by dsplat ( 73054 ) on Monday March 13, 2000 @05:41AM (#1206787)
    I'd be very interested in hearing the experiences of both authors and publishers about how well open licenses work for books. There are now at least three publishers that I am aware of who have published books that are licensed in whole or in part under an open license: O'Reilly [], Coriolis [], and New Riders []. I am not counting the various publishers who have printed the Linux HOWTOs, Guides, manpages, etc. because those were not new material at the time they were published in printed form. For the same reason, I have also omitted the Free Software Foundation, which has been publishing printed copies of its own manuals for years.

    Obviously, from the point of view of the publishers, it works well enough to stick their financial necks out to print the copies. It would be interesting to hear the pros and cons from a financial viewpoint. But what I really want to know is whether anyone has found a way to blend an open license with a print book in such a way that the open source community feedback has continued to improve the text after print publication. There are a lot of worthwhile documentation projects that are too big for a single person working part time on them. A positive answer to this question could encourage them to happen.
  • by tpv ( 155309 ) on Sunday March 12, 2000 @09:57PM (#1206788) Homepage
    When's the last time you read a book that came as an HTML tarball?

    Like the GNU Make book ? (The GNU version, not the ORA one).
    In that case, it can't be more than a week or two.

    HTML Books are cool. I wish that ANSI/ISO would work that out. I'm still using the Draft C++ standard bcs I can get an HTML version of it. I'd happily pay for the final standard, but I'm allergic to PDF.

  • Note that an Open Content license work is only Open Source if the copyright holder does not elect to use either of the options.

    Don't forget to register your open texts and open web sites: At [] there's a database specificaly for works under the Open Content license, and of course you should also register them with [].

    The database at is pretty impressive but a lot of existing Open Content titles are missing from there.



Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.