Sunday, July 16, 2006

GNU stands for

GNot easy to Use. Or GNUse. Or something.

So last night I took some pictures of the production and I wanted to edit them down to nice, usable proportions and see what I can pull out of them. Sounds like a job for Photoshop. But I'm too poor and too honest to have it, so I have this other thing, the GIMP, which is the GNU version. I'm working on the first picture, which I took freehand (and crooked) and I want to add a layer, draw a guideline on it to help me rotate to a horizontal based on a good visual reference, then remove the layer and save the resulting JPEG. I can't get the layers to rotate simultaneously, so I decide to check the help. Apparently I didn't install it. Turns out it doesn't auto-install.

OK. Whatever. I'll download it. So I open up my browser and go to the GIMP site, where I find the GIMP help package easily enough. .tar.gz. I spent another two hours finding Win32 gzip and tar programs, get the package extracted, and discover that it includes a Makefile. Yay.

For those who are slightly less on the bleeding edge of computer wizardry, a Makefile is kind of like a batch file that directs a program assembling another program. Very useful for programs distributed as source, or in components that need to be assembled differently on different platforms. Different UNIX/Linux platforms. Microsoft, of course, doesn't acknowledge the .tar and .gz methods of archiving, so let's stop talking about Makefiles right now.

I figured, "Andrew, you're badass at computers. I bet you can just do this manually." Nope. Can't even open the .xml file that should be the index, and I don't have enough information to know where the directory structure needs to go within the GIMP's many folders.

So now it's time to go back to the 'net. I actually managed to find a Win32-oriented distribution of the help system, which I'm downloading as we speak and will hopefully be able to install without incident. Now that I've found that, there's still 50 megs of crap on my hard drive - gzip, BSDtar, and the UNIX distribution version of the help install package for the GIMP. For whatever reason, various files thought they were in use and resisted deletion. So I had to reboot.

And all this so that I can access a "help" file. Seems to defeat the purpose a little bit. Anyway, it's no wonder that Photoshop can sell for $700. Even if the GIMP duplicates all of its functionality, if only someone like me can install it, that raises the cost to a minimum of the $100 I'd charge a client for showing up, let alone my hourly if I couldn't make everything work in half a day.

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