GIMPs Are Popping Out All Over the Place

It was just days ago that we learned that a UCLA sysadmin has discovered the largest known prime number — we'll spare a visual, as it's 13 million digits long — and possibly won $100,000 being offered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation as part of the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search (GIMPS). Now today comes the release of version 2.6 of the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) — the follow-up to the 2.4 series, first released last October.

Among the new features, the most eagerly anticipated and most talked about is the GEGL integration offered in GIMP 2.6. While it's still in development — the project described it as "tentative integration" — the addition of GEGL begins the process which will eventually result in the GIMP offering full 16-bit-per-pixel non-destructive editing, a prerequisite to pro-level adoption. The existing 8-bit paths are still enabled by default, as GEGL-integration is still experimental, but "curious users" can enable the new option through a menu setting.

The interface has received an overhaul, removing components considered redundant and introducing new options as well. The toolbox, which previously served as the default "main window" has given up that status to a new "empty window" (Screenshot) which will appear at startup, becoming the first active window, and then reappearing if all windows are closed. The toolbox and other boxes have become "utility windows," no longer having their own taskbar entries and allowing the user to configure and dock them in new ways (Screenshot A, Screenshot B). The new release also introduces the ability to pan beyond image edges and to utilize brushes at the edge of images, adds a "recently closed" menu with the ability to reopen windows, enhances the abilities of the free select tool, and introduces a number of new brush options and utilities.

Plugin developers have gained a new, enhanced API, as well as a new error handling, and Script-Fu has received attention, including a fix for a possible crash which unfortunately may cause problems for scripts without initial values for variables in certain situations. Fuller details of all the new features and changes are available in the release notes, while the new release can be picked up from gimp.org's downloads page.

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Justin Ryan is a Contributing Editor for Linux Journal.

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