After having insisted for nearly a year to work on my “cheap” laptop with Ubuntu and various different free image processing applications like GIMP and Raw Therapee, I am back using Adobe’s Lightroom. First, I would like to explain you why I considered Ubuntu a valid approach and then why I gave up and returned to Windows, Lightroom setup. Maybe, my experience with this topic could be of interest for someone else in a similar situation.
Why insisting using Ubuntu? Saving Money!
Windows requires more hardware resources than Linux and you can save significantly on hardware purchases if you are able to setup your workstation with Ubuntu. Switching to Ubuntu, allows me to reactivate some older hardware standing around, useless with windows. Difficulty and required time to install Ubuntu or Windows are nowaday about the same. For both OS you will find software for most of your tasks. (note “most”, I will address later). Some applications I use are provided for both platforms: Python, MySQL, Editor Caret. For others, not available on Linux I found decent replacements like GIMP for Adobe Photoshop, RawTherapee for RAW photo processing with Lightroom. There have been two features which I haven’t found a solution which are Adwords editor and Google Drive automatic synchronization. For editing Adwords account I had to use again the Web site and Google Drive synchronization can be achieved with a free third party tool but works only manually or scripted.
I indeed saved money. My $900 laptop, purchased two years ago, suddenly performed again well and there was no need for a new laptop. I saved also the $10/month for Adobe Photoshop/Lightroom license.
Why do I have switched back to Windows? Saving Time!
GIMP and RawTherapee are excellent tools built and supported by a passionate community and Lightroom has its downside but if I compare the time I spent to screen through all pictures from a photo session, to select the interesting ones, to process the best ones, to add geo-location, meta-tags and then to push them out as finalized images with the correct size to my web sites and to social media, Windows/Lightroom is a clear winner. Even if I consider extensive additional scripting to assist with the most tedious tasks like geo-, meta-tags and others, in a lot of situations there is no shortcut for the manually process and scripting will not save significant time.
Time is money? Not really. Reducing the time I sit at the computer and therefore having more time to stroll around in nature and even more important to spend it with my daughter is priceless.
Comparison Image Processing Ubuntu vs Windows
- Import from camera
The files are copied over to a folder on backup storage. The location is used for import and DNG conversion with lightroom or simply copied into the workspace (another folder) for RawTherapee
- Photo selection
Both Lightroom + RawTherapee have convenient gallery browsing features
- Image Processing
For most of the photos it’s roughly the same but with RawTherapee, the need to use GIMP has been more frequently. If GIMP is required then the adjustments are done after RawTherapee has been completed or you cycle around: RawTherapee/GIMP/RawTherapee JPG/GIMP/… Attention endless loop with no escape ;).
Winner: Windows, slightly
In case of Ubuntu, tagging had to be done when publishing the image (Flickr, WordPress, Ploring, etc. ) manually. With Windows, all tagging can be done within Lightroom and the data is saved in the final jpg file, and can be read by WordPress, Flickr, Python script etc.
Winner: Windows, massively
Lightroom offers the functionality to publish photos directly to different social platforms which saves time. Ubuntu requires manual process, although scripting to some extend is possible. Note for Adobe: Provide publishing to Google+/Facebook Page (not personal profile) as included feature and not third party plugin. I may program that at some point for free distribution.
Winner: Windows, massively
- Backup files
Applies to the original saved files, the processing history, and the final output. A bit more complex with Ubuntu but can be optimized with scripting.
With Ubuntu, I also observed that repetitive steps have to be done manually, although not very time consuming, having to do something like image title copying multiple times is boring. Better to spend that time on improving image quality too.
Using Ubuntu you save money, using Windows you save time. Time is not really money. Having more time means increasing life quality, which is priceless.
Originally, this article should have been published with the headline “Two steps forward, one back” referring to the German saying “Zwei Schritte vor, ein Schritt zurück” or “Pilgerschritt”. Later, I considered “Back to square one”. I ended up with the current headline, first, with the previous headlines the outcome turned into being too depressive and second, search engine optimization. “Two steps forward, one back” or “Back to square one” have no SEO value at all. I am very disappointed how my WordPress blog performs in attracting organic search traffic and I plan to do some changes to improve.
Featured Photo: Lightroom processed photo as symbol of creative chaos (filaments) carried by a highly structured base.