It is certainly possible to do all the work on digital images under Linux. However I think to a large part it still feels somewhat clumsy. At the very least it requires dedication and time to achieve similar results as under Windows.
Since VMWare released the player and the former GSX server (still beta at the moment) for free, I decided to check the feasibility of using a VMWare virtual machine for any digital darkroom and cataloguing work.
The Windows VM was quickly created after having installed the necessary VMWare software. The VM is run on a AMD 2800+ with 1Gb main memory of which is 512Mb assigned to the VM. The Windows installation was extended with these tools from Microsoft:
- Alt-Tab Task Switcher Powertoy for Windows XP
- CmdHere Powertoy For Windows XP
- Tweak UI
- Windows Defender
Additionaly these free utilities were installed to make the operation of the VM reasonably safe and comfortable.
And now, most importantly the tools, that I wanted to check out within the VM.
Of course, all of these programs run perfectly within the VM. The question was, how much am I slowed down for my typical work because the software runs within the VM.
Imatch works very well. The importing of many pictures into the database is slowed down due to the fact, that the pictures and and the actual database reside in the Linux native file system and are accessed in the VM through the networking layer and SAMBA. However, this not much of a problem. In my other scenario, where Imatch would be running on a real Windows system the access of the picture would still be over the network. Once the pictures are imported the tagging and categorising of the pictures works without any noticable delays, very smoothly. Only if you want to look at the picture in the native resolution with Irfanview, there is a distinct delay until the image appears on the screen.
Basically the same can be said about RawShooter Essentials. It works quick enough for me. It would be snappier running natively, but it employs so clever algorithms, that the slow down from the VM is very acceptable. Anyway, I’m not so quick in deciding if I want a certain picture or not.
Now, Neatimage benefits from every CPU cycle it can get. If you only want to de-noise the occasional one or two pictures, it is ok to run it in the VM, but if you have many pictures, that you want to treat with Neatimage, it is definitely better you used it natively on a Windows host. Or since Neatimage runs within Wine, this might be another option.
In the end the VM solution is very usable for me. Even some Photoshop work is possible, if you’re only doing some cropping or some colour and contrast enhancements. However it is completely impossible to do any work, which requires colour calibration. The Linux/VM combination doesn’t provide the required setting to actually calibrate the monitor. The best, what you can do is to set the monitor to a colour temperature of 6500K and use this diagram to adjust the monitor so that black and white levels are displayed correctly. And you need to stay in the sRGB colour domain.
And since I was at it, I also checked, if I could use my Canon Pixma 4000 printer from within the VM and if I could connect to my recently bought used Nokia 3660 phone through Bluetooth. For this I additionally installed these packages:
- Belkin Bluetooth Software (from the F8T012 Bluetooth dongle)
- Canon Utilities Easy-PhotoPrint (from my Pixma 4000 printer)
- CD-LabelPrint (from my Pixma 4000 printer)
- PC Suite für das Nokia 3660
I’m happy to say, that this worked flawlessly as well. I loaded some new pictures onto the phone, so data transfer works. However since I don’t use any of the synchronisation targets like Outlook or Lotus Notes this is somewhat useless for me, but it would work.
The driver for the Konica Minolta Dimage IV apparently isn’t build cleanly enough. Installation work fine, but when I tried to access the scanner with the scanning software this resulted in a Blue Screen of Death.