Back to Ubuntu with Precise Pangolin, GIMP 2.8 (FTW!), Corel AfterShot, and adding expose-style functionality to Unity

So I keep flip-flopping back and forth between Fedora and Ubuntu.  I can’t help it though, because Fedora is *soooo* darned attractive with Gnome Shell (Gnome 3, whatever) and it has the most amazingly frequent release schedule, yet Ubuntu has all that support, just-works functionality, Google is filled to the brim with articles on how to make something work on Ubuntu, and hey, to be honest, it’s definitely the smoothest linux experience.  Ubuntu’s latest, Precise Pangolin, is no exception.  It’s smooth, it’s fast, it works, and I don’t have to hammer at it until mp3s play, or worry about some jacktard geek’s interpretation of ‘free as in beer’, or their moral standards.  At the end of the day, you’re still getting a linux experience, all the power and flexibility (if you want/need it), and out-of-the-box it’s just a whole lot less of a headache.  Nuff said.

So I installed Ubuntu 12.04 on my laptop, it runs great and smooth, and it really, truly just works.  I haven’t even installed the latest Gnome Shell, I’ve just been using Unity and frankly, I really really like it.  It’s fast to work with, it’s pretty well thought out, and only takes a slight learning curve to get accustomed to.  I still think Gnome Shell is a superior UI, but I definitely see the appeal of Unity and will continue to give it a fair shake.

The guys and gals at GIMP have given us GIMP 2.8.  Oh man, is it ever a worthy update.  Single-window view (awesome!), lots and lots of speed and performance improvements, text editing has been (finally) reworked and is now usable.  There’s so much to love about it.  Can I give up Adobe’s Photoshop?  Well… no, not yet.  Possibly not ever, unless Adobe decides to wait 5 years between updates.  Still, I find that GIMP does most anything I need it to do, especially in a pinch, so maybe.  If you’re on Ubuntu, you’ll need a few special instructions (and a PPA) to get 2.8 properly installed.  Click here for more information on installing GIMP 2.8 on Ubuntu.

Either way, head over there and download it today.  It’s available for Windows too, so if you’re a photochopper or just a graphics guy, and you’re not one of those rabid tool-specific kids that tattoos the Adobe logo on their arm, give it a shot.  You probably won’t regret it too much.

Corel bought out Bibble.  Then they took Bibble’s Lightroom-esque app, rebranded it, fixed up the interface (a LOT) and released it as AfterShot.  It’s effin’ awesome – I like it a lot, especially for the price.  This is worth checking out (a 30-day trial is available) if you’re a photographer and you’ve been looking for an alternative to Lightroom.  I mean, I have no idea why you’d be looking for an alternative to Lightroom (it’s really that good) but if you’re a photographer using Linux (for some reason), or trying to wean yourself off of Windows (for myriad good reasons), you don’t even have Lightroom available to you.  AfterShot is definitely, *definitely* the droid you’re looking for.  Forget all the other pretenders, and just pony up the $60, it’s worth it.  Try it out before you buy and see for yourself.

Finally, here’s a little trick for Ubuntu that I ran across (for Unity, at least).  If you’re like me, you pine for the days when you used to have a Mac, and dream about the day when you can finally afford another one.  Until that day, we just hack and beat on whatever we’re currently using in an effort to make it more mac-like.  Expose (yes, I know I’m missing the accent) is an unbelievably useful tool that you didn’t know you loved until you didn’t have it anymore, and then constantly try to activate.  Well, if you’re using Unity, here’s a link with step-by-step instructions on how to activate expose-ish functionality in Unity, via Compiz.  It’s neat, it works, it’s fast, and it doesn’t cost anything.  Is it Expose?  Not quite, but it’s close enough.