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Gimp 2.7 released for testing and we are impressed with the outcome

The latest version of Gimp, version 2.7.1 has been released for testing purposes. Compared to its predecessors, it promises to include a host of new features that were previously unavailable. It seems that the developers of Gimp have finally started paying attention to the requests of the community about the serious need to include certain all important changes to the software, so that it can rival its nearest contender and the established benchmark in photo editing software, the almighty Photoshop from Adobe.

Since we like to get our hands dirty with all kinds of new software, we decided to try it out. Maverick Meerkat has just been released and we thought that it would be a good idea to try the latest release of Gimp on the latest release of Ubuntu. Ubuntu stopped shipping Gimp as the default photo editing software from Lucid. However, it is still up for grabs in the default repositories.

The default repository of Maverick Meerkat only contains the old version of Gimp so we had to try out other methods. To install Gimp in Ubuntu 10.10 follow these steps.

Open a terminal and type

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:matthaeus123/mrw-gimp-svn 
sudo apt-get update 

This will add the new gimp repositories to the existing system. If you have already installed Gimp in your system you need to update it. Since this was a fresh install all we needed to do was

sudo apt-get install gimp

Thats it! Gimp 2.7.1 in now installed on your Ubuntu 10.10. 

The new load screen portraying a scene similar to a steam boiler room with antique gauges and levers was proof enough to show that there was something really different and fresh about this release.

Our expectations on the rise, we were a bit disappointed to see the same old interface again. However, our inhouse designer Gonville, as he is commonly known, quickly zoomed in on a new feature. Since he was familiar with Photoshop (being a designer) he pointed to us that one of the strengths of Photoshop and the weakness of Gimp was a single-window interface that the latter lacked. Photoshop has only a single window with all the necessary tools placed in it, whereas Gimp has everything spread out in at least three, which feels cumbersome and also uses up valuable screen real estate.

This version has the option to change this scenario, as pointed by Gonville. There is an option to change to the new mode under Windows. We ticked the checkbox of Single-Window mode and lo and behold, all the three avatars merged into one. The change was obvious, Gimp now looked more professional and also felt much easier to use, not to mention the screen real estate now saved in the process.

Buoyed by the new change in the UI, we decided to try out other new features. The new version has a new nifty feature which includes support for layer groups, which were absent in the previous releases. Another significant change was the distinction between the saving and exporting of images in Gimp. Now onwards images can only be saved and edited in the xcf format. However, the images can be exported to other popular formats like .png and .jpg.

Overall, we were quite impressed with the new features and changes available in the new Gimp. However, it is still in the testing stages and needs a lot more improvement and bug fixes until it becomes usable. Anyway, things have started to look up in Gimp and the developers seem to have taken a step in a positive direction and we are really looking forward to the next release.

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