A GIMP replacement? – Popping down the pub for a “Pinta” with Novell?

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Fancy a Pinta? Whats your poison? - This round is on Novell. Lets forget "patent trap" allegations and look at who really uses Mono...

There has been talk for some time regarding the removal of the default GIMP packaging from Ubuntu, now as Gnome DE seems to move more in a Mono direction, could it be that Ubuntu (and others) will go for a Mono app replacement?

Ladies and gentlemen meet Pinta, no, not the type you buy down your local pub, this type of poison is a Mono app aimed at being a “clone” of for Linux and a potential replacement for GIMP?  Now normally I would be the first to support an opensource project.  If Pinta had been the culmination of a “bedroom coder” who was keen to release his/her work to the public I would have supported it fully.  But the reality is not like that.

I’ve often made the point that if Mono is so great, where is the killer app for it?  Where is the app that everyone MUST have?  Whatever coders think about Mono and whatever they create, its the end-user who will decide on its future and I challenge anyone to show me a FOSS project that continues to run when nobody wants to use it.

Over at where the Pinta project has a blog, the authors description says:

…I’m Jonathan Pobst and I am a full-time open source hacker for Novell. I work on Mono, specifically on Mono Tools for Visual Studio.

and he certainly has “great” aspirations for this software.  Full time open source hacker?  You mean employee then?  Implying that he is inspired by  Inspired by eh?…..moving swiftly on….

and not so obvious (in fact on the official site) is a comment about a topic which many people have remarked on before – Mono bloat, this comment was found in the FAQ in relation to the question “Pinta memory usage keeps growing” (and maybe a reminder to many of experiences of Microsoft products:

This is caused by keeping around infinite levels of Undo. In future versions, this will be mitigated

Im sure….it will be better next time….I would expect then that 10.04 Lucid NBR won’t even consider Pinta then since its ethos seems primarily to remove excess for a netbook deployment?  You can visit the official page of Pinta here:

I digress, forgetting that I have opinions on Mono, why should I not champion this product?  Simply because its being made by a Novell employee and hardly an enthusiast/impartial/bedroom coder.  When I asked previously about killer apps and Mono, it appears that the people trying to make them are the very people trying to push Mono.  Where is the independent coder support here?  As I see it, the popular packages that people want are NOT made with Mono and maybe Novell have realized that our “traditional” and respected developers are not going to touch it?

If I had seen a mass of Mono apps being released to “hungry” end users I may have seen the need, but when Novell is seemingly trying to create its own killer apps to promote its own implementation of a Microsoft framework then I really can’t see the point of this “gift to the world”.

In the case of Mono and its associated “wares” the most important person is not the coder(s) behind the projects, but the end-user – YOU.  The success or failure of such projects will solely depend on if they are taken up by the “average desktop user” who outnumber enterprise/advocates/coders many times over.  Ask yourself did you move to Linux for a “FOSS” implementation of a Microsoft technology which is headed up by Microsoft MVP Mr De Icazza or did you (like me) move because you were tired of inhibiting licenses, crashes, bloated software and the blame being placed at the feet of anyone but Microsoft? Were you fed up of the ethos of “everything has a price” or the takeaway menu style purchasing of Microsoft products? – I’ll let you decide.

In the meantime, if you think Microsoft want’s to play nicely with FOSS, lets remind ourselves of comments made by Microsoft.  But before we do that we only have to cast our minds back a few months to the allegations against our “FOSS friendly” Microsoft when it was claimed that they had stolen code from another project – Plurk.  You can read more about that here.

Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches,

Steve Ballmer – Microsoft CEO.  Source:

Yet Linux sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the characteristics of communism….

Steve Ballmer – Microsoft CEO. Source:

Now lets have some comments from Mr De Icaza from the Mono team and the people who want you to use Mono and its related apps.  If you look back on Mr De Icaza’s Twitter and blog, you can see he does praise Microsoft technologies:

Why I am uber-super-fascinated by Silverlight 4

Mr De Icaza – Mono team.  Source:

Silverlight 4 Beta available now at, will ship first half of 2010. w00t!

Mr De Icaza – Mono team.  Source:

and lets not forget Mr De Icaza’s comment:

Thanks to everyone that participated in the campaign to nominate me for a C# MVP award


Mr De Icaza from what I have seen is a very nice chap and the purpose of this article is not an attack or critism of Mr De Icaza.  He has his agenda (whatever that is) and he has his own opinions/views.   The Mono framework, Moonlight and any associated wares are there for people to choose if they wish.

Previously I said that I had found GIMP to have a rather steep learning curve and something that I could not justify learning for the limited need of a GFX app that I have.  That being said, I’d rather learn GIMP than have Pinta or similar package on my system.  Time will tell if the “average user” agrees or not, however in the absence of a killer app I think Mono will continue to be promoted by those who have a vested interest in it and largely ignored by mainstream app developers and if thats the case, should any distro have Mono packaged as default in the future?

Goblin –

GIMP to go Mono to stay?

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GIMP getting the boot from Ubuntu and Mr De Icaza drooling over Silverlight 4? Whatever next? It certainly appears though the community isn't drooling over F-spot.

Since Im suffering with the seasonal flu that does its rounds, this article was intended to be published rather earlier, as such I have only just got around to spell checking and publishing.

Its being reported that GIMP will be removed from default packaging with Ubuntu 10.04.  To be honest I have never really been a user of the GIMP.  This stems from the fact that the investment of time required to learn the package cannot be justified with my requirements in a graphics package.  My needs for photo editing etc are pretty infrequent and often very simple.  Ive found that online apps provide more than enough features for my needs. Thom Holwerder giving the reasons behind this decision as follows:

The reasoning behind removing the GIMP from the default Ubuntu install is solid. The application is geared towards a different audience than Ubuntu itself; it’s for technical and skilled high-end graphic editors. This makes it unsuitable for quick image editing, because thanks to all its plug-ins, the GIMP’s loading time is long. To make matters worse, because the GIMP is a complicated and advanced application, its interface reflects that.

So personally that decision makes sense.   A few things that I would challenge however,  “because thanks to all its plug-ins, the GIMP’s loading time is long.” which I would question the validity of.  Ive just run GIMP on a 5 year old PC and its  load time is about 6 seconds.  Is that too long for Thom?  I doubt Microsoft would ever adopt this ethos since I can’t even get IE to load in Windows 7 within 6 seconds[1] and if Microsoft started stripping out packages that took 6 seconds or more to load, I don’t think there would be much (if anything) left in 7.

I would question the skilled and technical point too.  So gfx designers don’t use Ubuntu?  I’d suggest a pro gfx user would want an OS as simple and as easy as possible so that they can concentrate on their profession.  I’d say Ubuntu is exactly the distro they would be after.

At the end of the day though, its all academic and just how the default bundling of Open Office doesn’t prevent me from removing it in favour of AbiWord, this is a minor point and one thats as simple as me removing Mono from Ubuntu.

Moving onto Mono

Whilst the Mono supporters claim that it benefits FOSS, they apparently are not too keen with anyone expressing their opinions on that Free and Open ethos.  In my experience with them free speech is acceptable, as long as its in agreement of Mono.

Ive repeatedly felt the need to say that I don’t believe Mono is some sort of patent trap.  If I don’t repeat that now, my opinion will be cheapened and distorted with all sorts of implications.  I personally don’t use Mono or any of its affiliated wares.  Thats my choice.  You can make up your own mind.

However I digress.  When I originally asked the question about the Mono killer app, I was cheapened by Mono supporters.  My point was simple, if Mono has no killer app to its name and people are happy with non-Mono software, whats the point of having Mono on your system?  Is it not just bloat?

Worryingly that question was answered all too quickly for my liking at the news of GIMP being removed.  Whilst F-Spot has been looking to get into users regular choice it too has an issue (apparently) when wanting to edit photos (that being load time).  Allegedly the viewer software or light version is fine, however full one with all the advanced features was the one that took the time to load.   It is reported by Thom:

F-Spot developer Stephane Delcroix added the editing tools to the view mode within mere hours of hearing of Ubuntu’s plans to remove the GIMP.

Thom’s comments on GIMP were in my opinion fair enough, where it was spoilt was the news of F-Spots leaping into action to try and fill that gap.  That makes me suspicious.  Ive always said the Mono/Moonlight packages (either intentional or not) were not for me firstly because they are based on a Microsoft framework and secondly because they appear to be a sickly sweet taster for the full blown “hard stuff” only available from Microsoft.  This is not paranoia.  Compare Mono/Moonlight for yourself.  Forget patent traps, this is in my opinion like a supermarket offering tasters of wine (no pun intended)

Roy Schestowitz makes a valid comment:

If Canonical thinks of disk space as an issue, then why not remove Tomboy (or replace it), then remove Mono altogether

and in the spirit of space saving it will certainly make a difference.  Of course in my view this has nothing to do with space saving does it?  As we see next there are plenty of space saving alternatives (or simply just alternatives)

F-spot though (and its Mono framework) are not all they are cracked up to be if you read some opinions on the net and certainly in the past there have been issued raised:

I quite like F-spot’s interface, but its slow as all hell, and not terribly stable. I blame Mono.


I can’t get F-Spot to do anything but crash

Taken from the Ubuntu forums in 2007 here:

Although as you will read in the next section, in my opinion the feelings continue today with a poll conducted on the Ubuntu forums.

Alternatives to F-Spot

I digress.  I am sure that Stephane is a supporter of freedom of choice as much as they are free software, so with that in mind, lets give Thom a little help here and offer solutions that take even less time to load (since that seems one of his problems)

If like me, your requirements of photo editing are small, here are just a few online tools that require no installation and (which Im sure Thom et al will celebrate) make your distro gb requirement shrink even further.

Thats just a small selection, you get the idea.

So what do users think?  Well if the Ubuntu forum poll is anything to go by when asked if they use F-Spot:

No. I find it to be unusable. I use gthumb, digikam, picase instead. 32%

No. I find it to be unusable too, but use file manager for browsing photos. – 34%

Yes, I use it, but I use gimp for photo correction. – 20%

Yes, I use it, and I use embedded image editor for photo correction – 11%

So currently then only 11% actually use it for viewing/editing.  Thats hardly a glowing recommendation and in addition tends to put down Thom’s opinion that the majority of Ubuntu users find GIMP unusable.  On the basis of those stats I would suggest its more a reason to get rid of F-Spot than GIMP.

Mr De Icaza “drooling”?

Apparently so and with news of F-spot updates and GIMP getting the boot from Ubuntu he may have another reason.  Over on his blog, he seems to be jumping (in relation to Silverlight 4):

But having Microsoft stand behind this new model will open the gates to a whole new class of desktop applications for the desktop. The ones that I was dreaming about just two weeks ago……Droolingly yours,
Miguel de Icaza.

and maybe now he will also be pleased with the news of GIMP and F-Spot?

What a lovely mental image I am building up here.

Now before its claimed that this is some attack on Mr De Icaza (which it is not) lets have a look at some of his more recent Twitter comments:

Why I am uber-super-fascinated by Silverlight 4:

Lovely.  So why is Moonlight dragging so far behind and why not (if you are such a champion of Silverlight [1]) do you not just be done with it and migrate to Windows where you can assist in that community instead?

Silverlight 4 Beta available now at, will ship first half of 2010. w00t!

Mr De Icaza does seem to love his Microsoft technologies.  Nothing wrong with that, but it makes me wonder, what on earth is he still doing here if thats the case.

Mr De Icaza also has this to say with how he is being portrayed (I am presuming in relation to Boycott Novell):

I am their favorite defamation target. He lies, twists and misrepresets me. That site is 1% fact 99 bile

Im not sure who “their” is.  Roy is responsible for his own opinions (many of which I differ from) and as far as Im aware Roy acts by himself.  There is no collective of agreement or exclusive gang over on BN Chat.  Anyone can check the logs to see the amount of debates people have with differing views.  So where is the bile here Mr De Icaza?  Have I misquoted/misrepresented you?  Please let me know.

Mr De Icaza, its not unfair to say that maybe, just maybe people moved from a Microsoft platform to Linux because they were disappointed and let down by it.  Its not Microsoft hatred to not want to go back to those days or at least aspire to emulate Microsoft technologies.


As always its up to the reader to draw their own conclusions and decide which route is best for them.   For me personally it makes no difference as any new distro containing Mono (and subsequently any of its wares) is removed upon install.  I do wonder why Mr De Icaza harks after Microsoft technologies as much as he does, but more importantly doesn’t consider the effect of doing this on, IMO an un-trusting Linux community in regards to Microsoft.


[1] I am currently still running/reviewing Windows 7.  I intend to spend longer with it than with any of my Linux distro reviews just to ensure that I am not unfairly representing it.

Links for further reading

Goblin –

Is Microsoft saying “Please use our products”? – MS pleads for support?

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Whilst H1N1 is no joking matter, I would think Microsoft wanted Silverlight to spread just as quickly.  Unfortunately for Microsoft (IMO) people were already immune and Silverlight did not make its way into our desktop like Flash.
Whilst H1N1 is no joking matter, I would think Microsoft wanted Silverlight to spread just as quickly. Unfortunately for Microsoft (IMO) people were already immune and Silverlight did not make its way into our desktop.


Theres a few pieces of Microsoft news here.  Firstly its been reported over the last few days that Microsoft is releasing Silverlight for Moblin.  No, not some .net chasing version like Moonlight, but the real thing.  Theres a link to the article here.

There’s been plenty of news recently about the dumping of Silverlight.  Most notably for me was when ITV switched to flash, which I documented here.

It is my opinion that Microsoft has finally learned that people are not blindly following it anymore.  People can and will look at alternatives to “Microsoft’s way” and in my opinion Microsoft is now desperate to get its Silverlight platform accepted.  To remind ourselves of how Silverlight is being received look no further:

“Microsoft has lost customers when Silverlight didn’t live up to its expectations, even after Silverlight 2 was released., which switched from Flash to Silverlight to stream live baseball games beginning in August 2007 with Silverlight 1.0, said in November—a month after 2’s release—that it was dumping Silverlight and had signed a two-year deal with Adobe to use Flash again for live streaming.”

Read the rest of this excellent article by Elizabeth Montalbano at MacWorld:

ITV had this to say regarding its dumping of Silverlight (although in my opinion somewhat none comital as to why):

ITV can confirm it has switched from Microsoft’s Silverlight to Adobe Flash to support the ITV Player on

and also said on their Twitter feed:

As you’ve probably gathered, we’re now using Flash on our site rather than Silverlight.

We also only need to cast our mind back a few months to when MLB dumped Silverlight in favor of Flash too.

The Register has this to ask:

The awkward question: If it’s that easy to port Microsoft Silverlight to Linux, why does the Moonlight project exist at all?

A reader of Openbytes recently refered to Silverlight as Silverblight, which although a good take on the name is inaccurate, how can it be a blight when IMO few people want to use it?  In my computing world Silverlight has had little to no effect and infact if it wasn’t for ITV using it at one point I don’t think I would have ever had any contact with it.

How things change?  There was a time when Microsoft could count on users following like sheep to every RC they churned out.  Now it seems to me that the only advocacy they get is when offering prizes, gifts and enticements to users in order for them to pimp themselves in cyberspace in order to get a freebie.  When sales reps are being trained in counters to Linux in favor of Microsoft products does that suggest to you that Microsoft products are actually the best on the market?  I didn’t see these type of tactics being used for Firefox yet its already taken IMO a massive chunk of IE’s share.  Why?  Because people actually like it.  Simple.

Keeping on topic and talking about Moonlight and Mr De Icaza, there is also “controversy” recently regarding RMS allegedly saying that Mr De Icaza was a “traitor to open source”, this has obviously started up the blog posts of RMS loosing his mind, RMS this, RMS that.  I don’t know about anyone else but I think Icaza, RMS, Shuttleworth or anyone else in the computer world don’t speak for me or indeed the FOSS community as a whole.   I have this silly notion that my I get my opinions from my own personal experiences and unlike the MS faithful do not hang on the word of any one person (in their case Ballmer IMO) for my views.  Why do some like to promote the view that just because RMS says something, the entire FOSS/Linux community wholeheartedly agree?

I have alot of respect for the work RMS has done and I agree with much of what he says.  There is also much I disagree with.  The same goes for any other person who puts opinion on the net.

So what of Mr De Icaza?  As a person, I am sure he is a very nice chap.  Is he good for open source, Linux?  I would say my opinion on that doesn’t matter.  I don’t like the way Icaza (IMO) appears to chase Microsoft technologies (and remember we’ve quoted statements with a pro-Microsoft flavor that Mr De Icaza is alleged to have said going back a long way)  I don’t like the way Icaza seems happy to not only promote a Linux flavor of a Microsoft technology (Mono/Moonlight) and be happy to have Linux’s version playing second fiddle to Microsoft.    That aside though, he is an adult, has his own opinion and the right go in whatever direction he chooses.  The point I make is that he stopped going in the same direction as me years ago. Is he a traitor?  I would say thats a little harsh and in anycase premature.  Time will tell as to the direction of his projects.

So is Microsoft desperate for its Silverlight product to be accepted?  In my opinion yes, I think the Moonlight project has failed to grasp the love of the Linux community firstly because of previous allegations against Microsoft and Mr De Icaza’s apparent love of Microsoft (IMO) and secondly because Moonlight (IMO) was a pale reflection of Microsoft’s alleged sparkling jewel Silverlight (pun intended)

With my experience of Windows Mobile, this was the only place I could recommend my MDA Mail to.  Microsoft has high hopes for the next version of Windows Mobile, do you?  and why is Microsoft developing Silverlight for Moblin? Surely if Windows Mobile is going to be so great, the last thing they want to do is help the competition by giving them what they think is the "great" Silverlight.
With my experience of Windows Mobile, this was the only place I could recommend my MDA Mail to. Microsoft has high hopes for the next version of Windows Mobile, do you? and why is Microsoft developing Silverlight for Moblin? Surely if Windows Mobile is going to be so great, the last thing they want to do is help the competition by giving them what they think is the "great" Silverlight.


Ive often joked about the comment of “It will be better next time” when mentioning certain Microsoft products, but if the allegations of Twitter users who were in attendance at Microsoft’s Venture Capital Summit are correct, it appears that Steve Ballmer doesn’t have a high opinion of Windows Mobile.  No surprise for me there since I suffered with Windows Mobile on an MDA Mail and its a topic I have often mentioned on this blog.  It was the first phone where I had the battery cover break on me (when Windows Mobile crashed for me on a regular basis it did so with style, refusing to respond to any button and requiring me to remove the battery to switch it off)  anyway I digress, Steve Ballmer is alleged to have said:

“We ‘screwed up with Windows Mobile'”

Really?  Is that an apology? Mr Ballmer I would suggest that is of little comfort to the users of it.  Are you acknoledging Mr Ballmer that Windows Mobile was infact hopeless? if this is the start of a brave new age of Microsoft openness what about apologizing for some of your other products?

Just with Vista, Microsoft has ruined its chances of being accepted by me again.  How many more products is Microsoft going to have to “be better next time?” before people will turn away?  Lets look at some other examples, the numerous returns on faulty Xbox 360’s? the new year Zune problems?  and what do users have to look forward to in relation to Windows 7?  remember we were told that Vista was going to be great pre-release.  Is Microsoft going to apologize there as well?


In my opinion the desperation of Microsoft in wanting you to use it’s products is displayed perfectly in the Windows 7 Party campaign (below video) where it takes a Tupperware/Ann Summers type approach to try and get YOU to promote its software with the enticement of chances to win prizes etc (IMO).  As I’ve said before, it appears to me that Microsoft gets its advocacy by enticements.  A little different to someone who recommends Linux eh?

The following video has been slated over the net with comments such as:

Unbelievable. I guess it speaks volumes about the intellect of a typical windows user. The marketing person responsible for this should be shot.

…..I would say it speaks volumes on how Microsoft envisions their users though.

Are micro$oft seriously suggesting people have a windows 7 party. WTF!

These are merely a small selection of comments from Engadget. The disgust of users appears to continue on Youtube, with comments such as:

I can’t think of anything I’d rather do less than go to a Windows 7 launch party…..

Anyway you can see it for yourself now, I have to admit this video is (IMO) even more cringe worthy than one of the “I’m a PC” ads or heaven help us, Steve Ballmer on one of his stage presentations.

Goblin –

ITV Dumps Silverlight (and not before time!)

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ITVplayer has sent Silverlight down the u-bend in favor of Flash.  Picture used with kind permission of Roy Schestowitz of Boycott-Novell.
ITVplayer has sent Silverlight down the u-bend in favor of Flash. Picture used with kind permission of Roy Schestowitz of Boycott-Novell.

The success of BBCiplayer cannot be denied and for UK residents who want to catch up (or indeed explore) the wealth of content the BBC offers online it really is a great service.  Relying on Flash I am a regular viewer of the BBCiplayer with its smooth perfomance and decent quality (even on the lowest quality setting)

ITV on the otherhand went the Silverlight route which instantly made it unavailable for anyone running Linux (I wouldnt know if there was Moonlight compat since I, like many Linux users refused to put it on their system)  ITV’s decision was strange because unlike the BBC which is publically funded, ITV relies on its advertising revenue to pay the bills and surely wants to appeal to the largest audience possible.

I had often wondered why ITV had opted for the Silverlight route and can’t help asking the question “Did ITV get some reward by forcing it down the online community?” – That can be answered another time because the good news is, without any large celebration or shouting ITV has ditched Silverlight in favour of Flash, not only making their material open to even more users but another blow for the company that wants you to do everything their way (Microsoft).

There are other questions in regards to the move that need to be answered such as was the move as a result of complaints from potential users or was it as a result of pressure by advertisers?  or indeed something else entirely.

An ITV spokesperson is reported to have said:

ITV can confirm it has switched from Microsoft’s Silverlight to Adobe Flash to support the ITV Player on

and there are also interesting views from other users in respect of this, one comment which caught my eye was in regards to the “standards compliant” IE8:

What I’ve found is that I can see the programmes available using Firefox and Opera using Flash Player v10.0.32.18 (which is the lates version), however I can’t get anything using IE 8.

Is this a double whammy for Microsoft?  If the comment is accurate then it seems a little ironic that the ITV site was “off limits” to many non Silverlight users is now off limits to IE8?  The above comment can be found here.

The site had this to say in regards to the move:

ITV, owner of the UK’s largest commercial television channel in terms of audience share and advertising revenue, had been using Silverlight since the launch of the service, but if the ITV forums and other reports are anything to go by, the use of Silverlight had certainly caused frustration for many visitors to the site trying to use ITV Player.

You can visit the ITVplayer here:

Goblin –

Moonlight shines on Linux – Did anyone notice?

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Life is a great for Microsoft Novell (as long as you dont mention Red Hat).  Moonlight 1.0 is now available for Linux users. – Lucky us.

I would put money on many people not even knowing what Moonlight is, but for those interested its an open source project sponsored by Microsoft Novell in order so that Linux users can experience Silverlight content.  Which sites employ Silverlight?  I couldnt tell you since none of the ones I visit do.

“Microsoft Silverlight offers the most comprehensive and powerful solution for the creation and delivery of rich internet applications and media experiences, and is used by hundreds of thousands of developers worldwide” – Scott Guthrie

So there we have it, lets be thankfull to Novell for providing us this wonderful gift, especially since they’ve given it at a time when Red Hat has managed to form a better “agreement” with Microsoft than they did.

I will let you consider if you really need/want to use this Microsoft Novell product, but after spending time moving to Linux and away from the proprietary lockin and restrictions of a Windows system, do you really want this on your system?