Originally Published: Monday, 13 November 2000 Author: F. Grant Robertson
Published to: enhance_articles_multimedia/Video Articles Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

What up, gPhoto?

So, you've got a digital camera, and you want to use Linux to pull pictures from it! What will you do? Most digital cameras don't come with a driver diskette for Linux, or any of that third-party imaging stuff that usually gets shoveled onto those CD's. Linux.com welcomes F. Grant Robertson to the front page with this fantastic article on gPhoto.

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It seems lately that everyone has a digital camera. They all come in shiny boxes, have mega pixel resolutions and are operable by your grandma on her worst day. The only question is: What about the Linux user?

For a while, you just had no options. Dual boot to Windows or you were going to be showing those pictures while everyone looked over your shoulder at your 2.5-inch LCD screen and your battery rapidly headed south.

Fear not! There are options for you, the Linux user, and they don't require a reboot. The gPhoto application has matured over the past year into a full-featured digital camera management utility supporting over 130 of the most common digital cameras.

The gPhoto project, having painstakingly reverse engineered most of the cameras it supports, has now moved on to development of gPhoto2. The first open source digital camera API available anywhere, gPhoto2 promises to make writing graphical front ends under Gnome, KDE, or any GUI toolkit a much easier process. The first such application that has appeared is GnoCam.

What the original gPhoto lacked in beauty and made up for in usability GnoCam hits squarely out of the park. With buzzword-compliant features like drag and drop, preview and folder support, GnoCam delivers on the essentials of camera manipulation. It takes those things a step further with a clean Gnome interface that rivals a lot of the bundled Windows applications you may already be using.

Since late 1998, Scott Fritzinger has been hard at work along with countless contributing developers adding support for more cameras, debugging routines and developing the API. The result of the project he started 2 years ago has spawned a revolution of digital camera owners moving their use of yet another new peripheral off of the proprietary Windows and Macintosh platforms. gPhoto2 promises to follow in these footsteps, while separating the control of the device from the user interface, allowing new digital camera control applications more freedom in their development process.

The project is now housed at Sourceforge.net, and as always is freely available under the GNU General Public license. The up to the minute versions can be retrieved by anonymous CVS, and the latest released version can be found at Freshmeat.net by searching for "gphoto".

Currently in release 0.4.3, significant work is being done on the gPhoto2 API.

According to the developers roadmap at http://gphoto.org/, future plans for gPhoto include support for sending pictures via E-mail from within the application, exportable XML galleries for easier integration with external software, thumbnail index views and a full screen slideshow feature complete with audio from an external application controlled by a plug-in. Even more far reaching plans call for dynamic loading of camera libraries, a built in photo album and CORBA support.

Supporting serial cameras as well as some USB models, unless high-end production cameras are your thing, it's very unlikely that your camera isn't supported in some manor by the gPhoto application or the gPhoto2 API.

While some of the advanced functionality of your camera may not yet be available under gPhoto, everything you need to capture, erase and load images is there. At the least, giving you the choice not to reboot for standard camera operations. For some camera owners, you can do everything your bundled software supports.

With new cameras added constantly, this is arguably the fastest moving digital camera project in the world. Far outpacing and outperforming anything available under Microsoft's Windows or Apple's MacOS platforms, gPhoto2 promises to deliver compatibility with many cameras to developers, leaving them free to create any user interface they can dream of.

What does this mean to us, the users? Choice, the foundation of the open source movement. You are no longer tied to the software that came bundled with your camera, but free to use any gPhoto2 frontend you like. For owners of cameras that came bundled with lackluster software, this is a panacea of choice that at one point you wondered if you would ever have.

F. Grant Robertson has been listening to They Might Be Giants for most of his natural life. This is his first article for Linux.com.

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