Recently I read across some experiences of a Web developer (read: web page designer) who switched from Windows to Linux. Though it wasn’t very interesting for me since I do not really design web pages one detail caught my attention: he talked about the shortcomings of GIMP, and mentioned that he used the Pixel Image Editor (Homepage, Wikipedia entry) instead. The interesting fact is that this proprietary raster graphics editor runs on Linux – and features the CMYK color model, indexed colors and HDR, functions which are missing in GIMP and which keeps GIMP from entering the professional image manipulation market (besides other, also missing functions).
I never heard of it, and never knew that there are proprietary solutions available for Linux, so I searched a bit around. This brought me to the Wikipedia comparison of raster image manipulation programs where I also found Photogenics (Homepage, Wikipedia entry). This is again a (proprietary) CMYK, Indexing and HDR capable image manipulation program which can be used on Linux. Looks like the situation of proprietary image editing software for professional use on Linux is not as bad as normally assumed. Sure, Photoshop is missing, but there are other programs as you see. (And, yes, Photoshop can be used with Wine, I know, but I concentrate on native support).
Besides the proprietary world most people tend to focus on GIMP only – which is not capable of handling CMYK or HDR, and therefore cannot stand any professional comparison. But there is not only GIMP:
Cinepaint (Homepage, Wikipedia entry), a fork of GIMP, cannot handle Indexing, but CMYK and HDR. It is developed by some people from the movie world and was already used in movie productions. However, the shortcomings are clear: the current interface is uglier than you could even imagine, and the Indexed colours support is missing.
Even more important and noticeable is perhaps Krita (Homepage, Wikipedia entry). Developed for the KDE Office suite KOffice it was heavily improved over the last months, and now features CMYK as well as HDR and Indexed colors. If you follow the development for some weeks you also get the feeling that there are some people working on it who are really interested to develop a professional and usable program. And you literally see that the development is quite fast!
So – lots of choices, and much more than I previously thought.