The 5 Best Photoshop Alternatives for Linux

Yes, you can get image editing software on Linux

Graphics & Photography apps on Ubuntu Linux

While many graphics professionals use Photoshop on Mac or Windows, it's not hard to find alternatives on the Linux platform. Here is a list of the best Photoshop alternatives for Linux.

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Screenshot of The GIMP interface.
What We Like
  • Great for photo editing.

  • Excellent all-around basic tool.

  • Familiar feel for Photoshop users

What We Don't Like
  • Some tools feel underdeveloped or limited.

  • Lacking in third party support.

The GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Project) is the first Photoshop alternative for Linux anyone will mention in any such list. Why? The GIMP is as powerful as Photoshop, with tons of tools, plenty of available brushes, and all of the standard image editing features you’d expect from such a powerful tool (layers, layer masks, selections and paths, color tools, automation, scripts, plugins, and more). With The GIMP, you can create masterful works of art, design company logos, and touch up photographs (and more) using a customizable interface that allows you to dock tools into tabs or keep them in stand-alone windows. With The GIMP you can work in what is called single window mode, which places open images in their own tabs and docks all tool windows, just like the standard Photoshop interface.

An alternative interface, a holdover from The GIMP’s earlier days, is multi-window mode. This mode breaks the docks and individual images away from the primary window. Those who are accustomed to Photoshop will not prefer this interface mode.

Although The GIMP is equal to Photoshop in power, it does lack the plethora of third-party tools that further extend its feature set. And although some tasks in The GIMP do take a bit more work than they do in Photoshop, it is quite possible to do nearly everything you need with this open source image editing tool.

Anyone looking to do any level of image editing on Linux should start with The GIMP. Chances are, you’ll need nothing else to get the job done.

Install GIMP with:

apt install gimp


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Screenshot of creating abstract art on Inkscape.
What We Like
  • Made for vector graphics.

  • Simple to import images from GIMP.

  • Produce high resolution SVG graphics.

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve.

  • Not great for general editing.

If you prefer to create your images from scratch, by way of the digital pencil, pen, or brush, you should seriously consider Inkscape as your tool of choice. Inkscape is a vector graphics editor with similar capabilities to Adobe Illustrator, but includes enough Photoshop-like features to make it a viable solution within this realm. Although you’ll be doing more image creation than editing, Inkscape is an incredibly powerful tool that includes many advanced SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics) features (such as markers, clones, alpha blending, etc.). 

Although the Inkscape interface might come off as a bit old-school Linux to some, don’t let it fool you, as Inkscape is as modern a vector graphics tool as you’ll find. With this tool you’ll enjoy features like node editing, node movement, node alignment and distribution, path simplification, path insetting and outsetting, bitmap tracing, object creation, bezier curves, and much more.

The one thing you should know about Inkscape is that it does have a much steeper learning curve than The GIMP. And because it focuses primarily on image creation, you should come at the tool with plenty of skill at the ready, as Inkscape does not hold your hand.

Install Inkscape with:

apt install inkscape


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Screenshot of Krita template selection.
What We Like
  • Professional digital art platform.

  • Tons of tools for artists and animators.

  • Specific tools and templates for various media.

What We Don't Like
  • Steep learning curve.

  • Mostly for artists only.

Krita is a full-featured digital art studio that is a perfect match for sketching, painting, creating concept art, comics, textures, and more. Krita offers artists all the tools they need for their creations, all in a single user-friendly interface. With Krita you get templates for animation, comics, design, DSLR photos, and textures. Open the tool, select a template, and get to work on your next big project.

Krita’s feature list includes an intuitive, customizable interface, brush stabilizers, a pop-up palette, brush engines, wrap-around mode, bush and texture import, and much more. Along the same line as Inkscape, Krita was created for freehand artists, who need a professional-grade tool for the creation of their work. Anyone looking to take their digital artistry to the next level, without having to pay the high cost of Photoshop, would be hard-pressed to find a better tool for image creation than Krita.

Install Krita with:

apt install krita


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Screenshot of the Darktable interface.
What We Like
  • Designed for professional photographers.

  • Compatible with various high resolution image formats.

  • Engineered to work with professional equipment and cameras.

  • Professional grade image processing and effects.

What We Don't Like
  • Something of a learning curve.

  • Fairly exclusively for professional use.

If your medium of choice is photographs, you will want to install Darktable. With Darktable you can take your digital photographs and (non-destructively) enhance them with professional color management, filters, standard image operations (such as contrast, brightness, saturation, shadows, highlights, crop and rotate, curves, exposure, demosaic, and much more). You will also find plenty of tone image operations, color image operations, correction modules, and effects/artistic image postprocessing.

Darktable is to photographers what Krita is to illustrators. Anyone serious about the quality of their photographs should seriously consider this a must-have application for finished products. Darktable also includes DSLR camera support, as well as DNG files from compatible cameras. For a complete list of supported cameras, view the Darktable camera matrix.

Install Darktable with:

apt install darktable


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Screenshot of an image in Pinta.
What We Like
  • Simple to use.

  • Provides basic image editing.

  • Includes masks and filters.

What We Don't Like
  • Lacking some power and tools.

  • Not that widely supported.

If you’ve ever used Paint.NET (which is not available for Linux), then Pinta might be the perfect tool for you. Pinta is an image editing tool without the power and complexity of The GIMP, which makes it ideal for users who don’t want to have to take the time to get up to speed with a professional interface or a more challenging piece of software. Pinta enables users of any skill level to dive in and start creating from scratch or editing a pre-existing image. You could even take a pre-existing image and make it look as if it were a sketch.

Pinta does include a few effect categories (such as artistic, blurs, distorts, noise, photo, render, and stylize), adjustments (such as auto level, black and white, brightness/contrast, curves, hue/saturation), as well as tools for layering, cropping, resizing, selection, and more. Want to dabble in image editing on Linux? Pinta might be just the tool you’re looking for. 

Install Pinta with:

apt install pinta