Kubuntu 11.10 for digital painting

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Warning :the method presented in this article are too old to be applied now. Use this information at your own risk. The photo above is enough to communicate I spent more time than professionally acceptable just to find a system able to run my daily tools for my digital painting studio. Hard to say FOSS workflow on Linux system is 'ready' for mass usage. It would be false.


With the new year, hard to escape to the temptation of upgrading tool and system.
My last working professional system was done over a Linux Mint 11 installation detailed on this blog so I was first tempted to upgrade with Linux Mint 12, but Gnome 3 provided me bad performances while painting, and the operating system was really missing of simple settings already their in Gnome 2 ( windows colors / thumbnail of my files / panel position / changing ergonomy ). In fact, my Gnome 3 experience was a deception because of that feeling of regression and non flexibility.

So, I tryed the fork of Gnome 2 : Mate ( also delivered on the Linux Mint 12 DVD ). Mate worked pretty well, but was also a regression compare to the Gnome 2 of Linux Mint 11 because of a lot of things who worked for Gnome 2 to readapt to all the new Mate's name. Plus this, my home hidden preference folder started to look like this : Mate configuration mixed up with Gnome 2 configuration , mixed up with Gnome 3 configuration. So it started to really look like a big mess. And , I don't really likes to invest a future into forks ; it's still good to look ahead.

Then I decided to explore other desktop environment on Linux ; XFCE, KDE, LXDE, FluxBox, Awesome ; but it took a lot of time to find the one able to meet my needing . My surprise was the discovering of KDE ( XFCE was also really near adoption ). I started testing it on Fedora KDE Spin; then I installed a ArchLinux + KDE. But a stupid problem of Canon printer driver make me came back to an Ubuntu based distribution : Kubuntu 11.10 64bit. ( where the driver of my printer was downloadable via ppa. ) Then, I started to really like it :)

KDE related screenshots :

This are not the default install screenshot of Kubuntu 11.10 , but a version with my preferences setup.

First good surprise is the no need to tweak a lot to get a dark theme ; Get Hot New Stuff ( a manager of online content ) is everywhere in the system settings, and it's easy to find new theme , as dark theme , and install it with one click. ( for infos, dark theme with neutral grey are better for my appreciation of value and balance with my pictures creation )

The package manager 'muon' can install directly the package you are used from Ubuntu or Linux Mint, because they are the same than in all 11.10 based distribution. Note here the "kde-config-tablet" application.:-)

"kde-config-tablet" makes your wacom tablet easy to configure in the system settings > devices, a real advantage for CG artists using Linux

Every option have a GUI equivalent, and it's easy to set a complex setup in a minute

same for button ( here on the layout of my Intuos 4 M ). For the screenshot I loaded an empty setup to show you how it looks on the first run

And last screen of the KDE tablet tool , ( very important as I run a dual screen with a Cintiq ) the mapping of tablet. ( By the way, here I still use my xsetwacom script at startup, just because all is already configured from my last system. )

Other very cool goodies : .kra , .xcf and *.ora thumbnails in the default file explorer 'Dolphin' after installing Krita ; thanks to the preference menu General > Previews > Select Calligra Files

2D Painting applications :

Mypaint ; You can install it via the PPA to get updated, or compile it if you follow branch.

[uptd] Easy way to install Mypaint :

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:achadwick/mypaint-testing  
sudo apt-get update  
sudo apt-get install mypaint

Krita .No surprise saying Krita fit very well his native KDE environment ( but to kill a common idea, this not boost the painting performances )

[uptd] removed PPA for Krita, watch script on bottom of page for instalation

And a patched Gimp painter 2.6.11 , still more laggy and abandonned from developpement. ( sad death for a software ... but still I couln't work only with the 2 previous one )

[uptd] Easy way to install ... Heu wait ... The Mizuno PPa is broken , so no easy way for the moment. Read the install notes on the bottom of this page.

Conclusion :

Many things works better for my usage and so I'm a happy new KDE desktop user. So I definitely like it and want to contribute to even a better place for my professional activities. System is efficient and default application are very nice . Many user settings in the system settings are way more smarter than I experienced with my previous Gnome 2; it's really flexible. Other good points ; a centralized KDE forum , and a centralized Bug report website for all your KDE applications. I definitely like the KDE way to do things.

Next time I'll try to separe completly from Ubuntu ; I'm annoyed by all the things who broke, and the 6 month release who speedly makes distribution outdated. In my target : Chakra , Linux Mint Debian Edition or ArchLinux with KDE.

Installation notes :

To get Krita :

[edit : simplified all, things get simplier and thats a good news ] Krita will install without any problem with the script of Kubuntiac ; download the script of Kubuntiac : http://forum.kde.org/viewtopic.php?f=139&t=92880 , and follow the instructions.

Only 1 trap : Old Gimp-painter needs patch

Gimp-painter from Mizuno PPA and all 2.6 now have damn bug of ghost lines. This is the same for all Gimp-painter, and become more and more laggy with newer xorg or wathever new and regressed stuff. To avoid it you 'll need to download the sources already patched I propose you : Gimp-painter patched for 11.10 compatibility here : http://david.revoy.free.fr/forums/support/gimp-2.6.11-patched-src.tar.gz extract it on the place where you store your sources ; then go with a terminal inside the extracted folder and paster this :

sudo apt-get build-dep gimp ./configure --prefix=/opt/gimp-painter --disable-default-binary make sudo make install 

Your new Gimp should be able to be launched from /opt/gimp-painter/bin/gimp-2.6 , you can of course create a laucher or a sym link to /usr/bin/gimp to launch it faster.
Note : for building , you will need also commons package as 'make' , etc... If the instalation return error, please read what the computer complain ; it's often the lack of a library. Note the name , and open 'Muon' the package manager to install it. Upgrading to 2.7x is also a solution to avoid the problem ( no Gimp-painter features ).

Have happy painting ! I hope this notes will help you to save time tweaking computer, to get more time painting.

License: "Kubuntu 11.10 for digital painting" by David Revoy − CC-BY 4.0
Tags:  #KDE  #linux  #install   | Download: Markdown