Ubuntu 12.04: Graphics Programs

I typically have various needs for working with graphics and video.  These are the tools that I have found helpful for various situations.


  • Gimp
  • Inkscape
  • Dia
  • Ubuntu Restricted Extras (Codecs)
  • MPlayer
  • KdenLive
  • OpenShot
  • Cheese


One of the best tools for tweaking images is Gimp.  It is comparable to Photoshop but free.

From the Gimp Website:

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

I simply installed it from the Software Center:

I went ahead and also installed all of the Add-ons, too:


Inkscape is great for drawing vector-based drawings.  This is from their website:

An Open Source vector graphics editor, with capabilities similar to Illustrator, CorelDraw, or Xara X, using the W3C standard Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG) file format.

Inkscape supports many advanced SVG features (markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.) and great care is taken in designing a streamlined interface. It is very easy to edit nodes, perform complex path operations, trace bitmaps and much more. We also aim to maintain a thriving user and developer community by using open, community-oriented development.

I simply installed it from the Software Center:


I haven’t used Dia in a while, but it is nice for creating diagrams.  I keep meaning to create some stencils for it to make my diagrams look nicer, but I haven’t done much with that.

From the Dia website:

Dia is a GTK+ based diagram creation program for GNU/Linux, MacOS X, Unix, and Windows, and is released under the GPL license.

Dia is roughly inspired by the commercial Windows program ‘Visio,’ though more geared towards informal diagrams for casual use. It can be used to draw many different kinds of diagrams. It currently has special objects to help draw entity relationship diagrams, UML diagrams, flowcharts, network diagrams, and many other diagrams. It is also possible to add support for new shapes by writing simple XML files, using a subset of SVG to draw the shape.

It can load and save diagrams to a custom XML format (gzipped by default, to save space), can export diagrams to a number of formats, including EPS, SVG, XFIG, WMF and PNG, and can print diagrams (including ones that span multiple pages).

I simply installed it from the Software Center:

Ubuntu Restricted Extras

Next, I wanted to make sure that I could play various videos.  That means I need the codecs.  Accord to the Ubuntu Documentation, I need to install the Ubuntu restricted extras package from the Software Center.

It prompted me to remove two packages:

I don’t know if running this script is required or not.  From the documentation, it looks like this is for older versions, but I decided to run it anyway just in case.

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/install-css.sh

I tested the codecs by downloading the zip file from The Web Video Codec Test.  This gave me a video encoded in a number of different codecs.  If someone knows of a better place to go for testing the codecs, please comment below.

I tried playing each of the videos in the zip files.

The following videos did not work, but the rest did work fine:

  • wheelieAVCsorenson.mp4 — sound but no video
  • wheeliesorensonvideo2cbr.mov — video but no sound
  • wheeliesparkpro.swf — wouldn’t play


I have always liked MPlayer for playing videos and music from the commandline.

Kdenlive for Editing Videos

Kdenlive is a tool for editing videos.  I haven’t actually tried it because on the last version there was a bug.  Now, it appears to work, so I need a video project to work on!


I found Openshot a great tool for patching photos together into a nice little video.  I installed it from the Software Center.


Cheese is a great tool for testing the webcam on the laptop.  If you want to record or take a picture with the webcam it will work good for that too.


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