Using Camera RAW with Linux.

These days the vast majority of my photos are taken with my camera phone, but it’s nice to know that I can still use my fancy DSLR camera with my Linux computers when I want to.

Connecting my camera to a Linux box is no issue — it’s this pesky Camera RAW file format that I’ve been worrying about. But once again, Linux has you covered.

There are at least two highly-regarded apps for handling RAW files, Rawstudio and UFraw.



Here’s Rawstudio running on my Linux Mint 8-powered rig. I prefer it over UFraw because it has support for batch-converting RAW files to JPG (or whatever) built-in. Rawstudio seems to have been designed with workflow in mind — while there aren’t so many options to tweak individual photos there are three separate presets which you can conform your digital negatives to. And critically, editing any particular photo in the GIMP is just a click away.

The exposure settings and other tweaks are saved by Rawstudio in a hidden folder inside your image directory.



Here’s UFraw running on my Eee PC (!) It also supports batch-processing RAW files, albeit in a slightly different way. UFraw now comes bundled with an image viewer called Geeqie — or Geeqie comes bundled with UFraw… Anyway, you load up an image directory in Geeqie and from there you can batch-convert to JPG using UFraw. Note that this is only an available option in the latest Ubuntu repositories; for Mint 8 I could only find the original (and since abandoned) GQView.

Instead of storing the colour settings and such for individual photos separately, UFraw saves another copy of the image altogether in the .PPM file format. This is another reason why I prefer Rawstudio, as it’s what I’m used to from years of using Photoshop on proprietary OSes. But backing up a hidden folder might represent an extra step that UFraw users wouldn’t care for, so the choice is yours.

The important thing is that Camera RAW files are fully supported by Linux. For really high-level tweaking you’ll probably want to calibrate your monitor — but that’s a discussion for another day…


  1. “I prefer it over UFraw because it has support for batch-converting RAW files to JPG (or whatever) built-in.”

    erm… so what’s ufraw-batch then? (installed by default with UFraw)

  2. A terminal command?

    I only poked around UFraw for a few minutes, and the only batch-processing option that I remember was from a right-click menu in Geeqie.

    If there’s something I missed by all means let me know…

  3. “Note that this is only an available option in the latest Ubuntu repositories; for Mint 8 I could only find the original (and since abandoned) GQView.”

    I use Salix, a Slackware based distro. Geeqie is available in the repositories but it doesn’t come with UFRaw but Rawstudio is also available. There are other distro’s beside Ubuntu & Mint.

    The following is from the Geeqie web site:

    “Geeqie has been forked from gqview project, because it was not possible to contact gqview author and the only maintainer. Geeqie projects goal is to move the development forward and also integrate the existing patches.”


  4. Hi there,

    I’ve used Geeqie for a while and found it good. It has been an advanced image viewer for a few years now and I’ve been a bit frustrated that it has not been picke dup by the major distros. I’ve suggested its inclusion on the Mint software site but it has been ignored to date. I am with Ubuntu again now and I always load it. It might get more press now it is tied to UFRaw.

    Other RAW image software is GTKRawGallery and Fotoxx. I also have Raw Studio and Raw Therapee. There are some HDR packages too, but Fotoxx handles them as well. You can fake HDR with Gimp scripts.

    Thanks for the article.


  5. [mandatory_you_forgot_to_mention_post]
    Commercial apps include: Bibble, LightZone

    I use Raw Therapee and Bibble mostly.

  6. You should try digikam which also provides a frontend for dcraw. Its an all in one solution for photo management, editing and raw processing.

  7. I like the additional touches that Geeqie makes in the interface. For example, it gives you more flexibility in viewing and handling graphic files.

    Close to a lot of Browser features, Geeqie’s view menu proffers options to view a picture in a new window, pan view or perhaps Exit window. Besides that, you could select the preference for how files and folders display. The selections incorporate list and tree options for folders and image lists on top of icons and thumbnails.

    Geeqie:Linux Image Viewer :

  8. I’ve been trying both RAWStudio and Darktable. RS is quite simple but easy on the workflow. Darktable is more complex with plenty of filters and tweaks, making it comparable to ACR. DT is a little difficult on the eyes and workflow but when it’s working can give more control and allow for greater creativity. DT seems to work better using a Terminal command to put it into debugging mode. I think it needs a babysitter. It’s either crashed or produced capricious results when switching from its processing mode (Darktable) to its file opening and exporting mode (light table). Sometimes the photo I’ve worked on just disappears when switching to LT mode. DT works better with that babysitter.

    Overall I prefer both of them to UFRaw which is very limited in scope.

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