I was in the Langley NCIX store yesterday picking up some RAM for a new server I'm building and picked up the latest issue of HUB: Digital Living
The cover has a picture of my Nikon D80 as well as a Canon EOS over the headline "beyond point & shoot" which immediately caught my eye and mind. Thumbing through I spied another favourite word of mine - Linux. In this case referring to a product called "LightZone" from a company called Light Crafts. It turns out that chief architect of this product, Anton Kast, has ensured through the development process that this mostly Java based software would run not only on Windows, but also on Linux, and the company has been convinced to release it for free (as in beer) to the Linux community for their use. This is not open source software, it simply doesn't cost anything for the version that runs on Linux. You will have to purchase a copy (30 day free evaluation available) if you run Windows.
When I got home I went looking for the software. It turns out that Light Crafts doesn't admit that it exists for Linux - they don't point to the download page, and don't even think about talking to them about support.
Having said that, Google is my (and your) friend - and I quickly found a pointer to a different version of the Light Crafts web site with the Linux link on it.. After giving my name and e-mail (not required, but a courtesy) I downloaded the 25Meg zipped tar file (tgz) to my new workstation which is running Fedora Core 6. I unpacked the file into a temporary area and ran the program - nothing. The log file showed a bad version number for the Java I have on this system, so I moved the file over to my older machine which is still running FC5 and lo and behold it ran!
I spent the next hour or so playing with some of the latest raw pictures I've taken - cropping, adjusting, re-sizing, saving, etc. and found the results to be excellent!
The program comes up in its own single window in contrast with other tools like GIMP that bring up tools in separate windows from the images. I've found that I can stretch the display across two screens to at least move the tool bar off the main screen so I have a bit more size to the picture portion, but that's about all. I can't blow up the photo to full screen but there are 3 different screen layouts and by carefully positioning the frame across the two screens I can isolate the tool bar while getting most of the main screen filled with the image. In my case I have my trusty Optiquest 19" CRT for color viewing and to the right I have a LG Flatron Wide LCD. Set up this way things work quite well.
As most of this suite is written in Java, it is a bit of a resource hog - suggesting a minimum of 1 Gig RAM and 2+GHz CPU. My older workstation has the RAM but is a bit weak on the CPU. Having said that though, the performance is actually pretty good. Doing a sharpen takes only a few seconds on one of my raw 10 Mpixel shots for example.
I'll report back when I've had more time to play with the program, but I can tell you already that I'm adding it to my suite of tools. Just the options it has for doing sharpening and the few images I've played with show me that it does an excellent job of this daunting task.