In today’s installment of the Command Line, we’re going to take a look at a serious photo editor that is not only free but can be a viable alternative to Adobe’s popular Lightroom. While I don’t fancy myself a professional photographer, I’ve had a number of people ask about this app. After doing a little research, it looks like Darktable is quite popular among the pic-taking crowd and that includes the hobbyist and expert alike. So, today, we’re going to take a look at a couple of different methods to install the Darktable photo editing software.
What is Darktable?
There are a lot of options out there when it comes to editing photos. For basic features, online editors such as Pixlr X will serve your purposes and then some. However, for those who are looking to take and edit professional photos, a Raw editor is almost a must. Raw image files are what you get when you take a photo and your camera saves exactly what the image sensor sees. No processing, just a raw image. From there, the Raw image is uploaded to an editor where the magic happens.
At the top of the list of popular photo editors, you’ll usually find Adobe Lightroom and the more recent Lightroom CC. There are plenty of other options out there but Lightroom is pretty much the industry standard. Darktable takes a lot of its cues from Lightroom and if you’re able to invest some time learning your way around, it can produce results that are on par with other professional-grade editors. In addition to all of Darktable’s robust features, it’s totally free. Also, thanks to Crostini, you can install it on any Chromebook that supports Linux apps.
If you’re just getting your feet wet and trying out your hand at photography, Darktable is a great editor to try out instead of paying for Lightroom. You can look up Darktable vs. Lightroom on Google and you’ll find a lot of mixed reviews but where most photographers agree is that Darktable is just as capable if not more so than Lightroom if you’re willing to learn how to use it. Installing Darktable on Chrome OS is quite simple if you’re okay with an older version or just want to get a feel for the program.
First, you will need to make sure your Chromebook is set up for Linux apps. You can find those steps here. Once you’re up-to-date, you can install version 2.6 of Darktable directly from the Debian repository using the command below. Just open a new terminal window and type or paste the command and hit enter.
sudo apt install darktable
You can now find Darktable in your app launcher or run it by typing
darktable in the terminal. If you’re interested in getting the latest version, there are a couple of different methods but the easiest is probably by using Flatpak. After installing Flatpak and adding the Flathub store, you will be able to install version 3.0 of Darktable on your Chromebook. First, we will need to remove any older versions of the software. Do this by running the command below.
sudo apt remove darktable && sudo apt autoremove
Now, we will install Flatpak and add the Flathub store.
sudo apt install flatpak sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
Next, we will install the Darktable flatpak. The first time I did this, I got an error that one or more components did not install. If you run into the issue, simply run the command again and you should be good to go. Remember, anytime you install a flatpak, you need to add “sudo” to the beginning of the installation command from Flathub.
sudo flatpak install flathub org.darktable.Darktable
There you go. You now have a full-fledged, Raw image editor on your Chromebook. It’s exciting to find more and more apps that can allow users the ability to transition fully to Chrome OS. Is there an application that you’ve wanted to try out using Linux on Chrome OS but don’t know where to start? Drop a comment below or hit us up on Twitter and I’ll get to work figuring it out.