2003/01/02 - Jakub 'Jimmac' Steiner
An interview conducted by Alain Buret
Alain Buret - Please present yourself !
Jakub Steiner - Jakub Steiner's my name. Wilber's youngest son.
Alain Buret - When did you start using "The Gimp" ?
Jakub Steiner - In 1999, after returning from a short stay in the UK I was searching for cheaper alternatives to the Photoshop 3 package they had at the University of Huddersfield. I was running windows 95 on my home PC back then.
PaintShopPro was missing layer functionality so I altavistaed and bumped into this GIMP thing. After downloading a very large win32 archive on my 28k modem, I unpacked it to see a text file with a "get a real OS" message repeating about a million times :) So I did give this cool GNU/Linux thing a go and never went back.
I got absolutely excited about GIMP and started telling people about it and started investigating this thing called free software which back then sounded like a complete utopia to me.
And since I had a lot of time (We have a mandatory military service in .cz, but you can opt for a civil service which I did) I decided to try to write a book about it. I got a lot of help and support from a friend at the Technical University. I doubt I ever had a chance to publically thank him for that so I take this opportunity ;)
And when I was researching about about GIMP I obviously met many GIMP folks on IRC.
Alain Buret - Do you know what is the origin of the program name ?
Jakub Steiner - Of course! It's an abbreviation of "Gods Inseminate Mullets Pornographically". There was a rumour it's GNU image manipulation program, but that obviously isn't true.
Alain Buret - Do you just use it or are you also coding ?
Jakub Steiner - Fortunately for the users I have only contributed artwork.
Alain Buret - As a great Gimp user, can you tell us what is, for you, the major disadvantage of Gimp? What should be added first?
Jakub Steiner - The main disadvantage of GIMP is the lack of developers ;) But I understand you wanted to hear what I miss in GIMP most. My top 5 list is:
layer grouping - once you get over 10 layers, it starts to be a mess and you eventually end up merging layers or wasting a lot of time navigating the layer stack.
layer effects - something like a dynamic filters. The best thing about this is you don't lose information when you apply a filter this way. You always have the original data.
proper text tool - editing on the image canvas, text on curve, multiline/multifont.
MNG support (at least with a GIF-comparable functionality)
indexed PNG with alpha mask
Unfortunately some of these are not easily implementable with the curent codebase.
Alain Buret - What do you think is its major advantage over other non-free solutions like Photoshop ?
Jakub Steiner - First of all that you can run it ;) If you happen to be a person with a Windows or MacOS operating system with a big budget, you will probably be tempted by the featureset of Photoshop. But Adobe ignores the Linux platform. Eventually it _may_ support the x86, but I'd be surprised to ever see it run on linux/ppc for example. People also have limited budgets.
GIMP is a very powerful bitmap editor though. For webdesign-related tasks it simply rocks. It's got a rich featureset for photo-retouching too.
With an apropriate plugin, GIMP san save to Photoshop's native format so in a lot of environments it would make sense to only pay for a single Photoshop license to do the few things GIMP can't and for the rest of the workstations use GIMP. The UI is very similar and a Photoshop user will have no trouble switching saving considerable license fees.
And it's free software so you can add (or let someone add) your own features to it at the end. Make it compile/run on your mobile phone. Some things you just can't do with proprietary stuff.
Alain Buret - People often complain that "The Gimp" is very difficult to use, what do you think of that ?
Jakub Steiner - That very much relates to the previous question. It has a similar featureset of Photoshop. GIMP is a complex program. It lets you do very sophisticated actions on bitmap graphics interactively. I doubt one can do no-entry-barrier interface to, say 3D modelling program.
Everyone wants to manage files, play back music. In those applications it makes sense to get rid of features in order to 'clear' the interface, make it obvious to use. I love the iApps on the macintosh for that.
For what you can do with it, GIMP's easy to work with. There is a lot of work going into the UI in the devel version of GIMP so the rough spots are being cleared out. Although there is a lot of basic funcionality missing/broken and the developers are advising everyone not to, I tend to use the development version because of the little things that make it easier to use.
Alain Buret - Regarding the tutorial you are going to give, what are the "Gimp requirement" ? Will it be a tutorial for newbie or or for advanced Gimp user ?
Jakub Steiner - I will try to describe every key procedure during the tutorial to the newcomers, but a basic knowledge of terms like brushes, layers, opacity, layer masks, selections, paths will help. Advanced GIMP users will probably get bored, but maybe they will learn something here and there. I picked up many cool tricks watching other GIMPers gimping.
Alain Buret - You're also working for Ximian ... What is your job ?
Jakub Steiner - Suprisingly it has to do with graphics ;) Together with Tuomas we try to make Gnome look fab. That means a lot of icons, splash screens, wallpapers, themes, etc etc.
Alain Buret - When visiting your homepage, we can see you are a great music fan ... tell us a bit more about your passions.
Jakub Steiner - Unfortunately it's been about 2 years since I composed anything. Although the music industry is trying hard to make it impossible for me, I'm enjoying music from the listener perspective these days.
I blame it on the lack of cool composing software like the thing I was used to on win32 - buzz. But if you look around, things are getting better. I'm prolly just lazy.
Alain Buret - What are your expectations from your Fosdem tutorial ?
Jakub Steiner - I hope to meet people interested in learning about this cool graphic package. People who wanted but never got enough time to investigate it themselves. Showing off other people's achievements is part of the deal I guess, Gimp 1.3.x rocks! ;)
And as with every free software event I'm hoping to meet the hacker crowd and try to talk about something else than icon requests ;).
 Doesn't sound as cool as googled, does it?
 There is a win32 version of GIMP these days
 Obviously I have no clue how to translate that into english. It's just a silly way to waste every man's year of life basically.
 As oposed to the batch mode where something like ImageMagick is probably a better solution
 An interface that is so intuitive that it doesn't require learning how to achive a result.
 I will be talking about them in the tutorial too
will take place
on February 8 - 9 2003
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