Perhaps the F stands for “Fail”?

Recent news that Ubuntu will likely be giving up the GIMP as part of the default install are interesting, but not a huge concern to me – I already have to install Inkscape, so adding the GIMP to the huge sudo aptitude install command I run on a shiny new Ubuntu install isn’t a big deal. I’d love having both Inkscape and the GIMP by default, but there’s only so much space on a CD-ROM-sized ISO. Fair enough.

What still concerns me is F-Spot by default. Not because of Mono fearmongering – I really don’t care what language the thing is written in – but just because it’s got some very irritating behaviours compared to the older lightweight editor/viewer/photo manager I still use, gthumb.

Allow me some simple demonstrations of why gthumb is still, in many ways, superior to f-spot.

I take a fair number of photos, and as anyone knows, they add up in filesize very quickly. I shoot fair-sized JPG, not the very largest my camera could, and not RAW, and I still have 10.2GB of images in Photo – 4133 images, apparently. I´ve only owned a digital camera for about two and a half years. Someone with a longer digital history, or who shoots RAW, or who simply takes even more photos than I do, is going to easily dwarf my photo collection. My photo collection is still old enough to have pre-dated F-Spot in Ubuntu, however.

So, I want to view, manage and do light editing of this existing photo collection. Fire up F-Spot (Applications->Graphics->F-Spot Photo Manager). There is no File->Open command, and by default the “Browse” button on the toolbar does absolutely nothing… so File->Import it is. Aim this at my existing ~/Photos directory… and by default it will duplicate the entire thing, rearranging the files to it’s liking as it duplicates them!

F-Spot will also take an insanely long time trying this – I aborted the whole mess ten minutes in, with only 1434 of 4133 files “loaded” (what does that mean? they don’t need to be loaded, they already exist in ~/Photos!) and the “Import” button still greyed out…

Are you serious? All I want to do is crop one of them! Abort, abort! Fine, we’ll find an existing image through Nautilus, and choose to open that in F-Spot individually.

Nope, sorry. That gets you your image, without the insanely long Import process, but it’s in a little window called “F-Spot View” with none of the editing tools available, and no way to switch to an actual editing window

Now let’s try the same simple procedure(s) in gthumb. Same existing photo collection, in the Ubuntu-supplied default ~/Photos, but first we’ll install gthumb with your favourite package manager. (gthumb languishes in Universe these days, so have that enabled) Now go Applications->Graphics->gThumb Image Viewer. No Import button, any images that happen to be in your ~ will show up on one pane, and a Nautilus-style folder navigation pane to the left. Rummage through your files with that pane, no need to wait for some sort of unexplained “importing”of existing files here.

Or go the other way – find an individual image through Nautilus or on your desktop, right-click, choose Open With->gThumb, and open your image. You get exactly the same window you would if you’d opened gthumb via the menu, with all the lightweight editing options you require right there.

No “importing”, no attempt to duplicate your entire photo collection, no crippled “viewer” window with no useful tools in it, and  gthumb will traverse your entire directory, not just the one folder it insists on importing/duplicating everything in. Oh, and no distracting “Mono is of teh devil!!!11111” nonsense either, just for a bonus. Somebody does need to code an upload-to-Flickr plugin for gthumb, granted.

While the GIMP is being removed from Ubuntu 10.04, let’s ditch F-Spot and return to gthumb too!

Launchpad bugs for most of the above Fail-spot issues: 488566, 488574. Closely related, and older: 182862.
Related silly “Import” bugs: 412091.
There’s probably many others over on Gnome’s bugtracker, but I only searched LP’s Fail-spot bugs for now.