6 Best Free and Open-Source Tools for RAW Image Processing in Linux

Brief: Looking for RAW image editing tools in Linux? In this article, we’ll show you the best free tools to edit RAW photos in Linux.

A RAW image file contains minimally processed data from the image sensor and needs processing before you can print or edit them. When you shoot in a JPEG format, the image is compressed and some information is lost and non-recoverable, while RAW images are non-compromised high-quality images preserving all the necessary data from the sensor.

That’s the reason most photographers prefer capturing RAW images and editing it later.

Best RAW image editors for Linux

Note: The list is in no particular order of ranking.

Best RAW Image software in Linux for photographers

There are many free and open source applications to manipulate RAW images in Linux. In this article, we have compiled 6 best Software to handle RAW images in Linux.

Note that while I have included the installation method for Ubuntu-based distributions, you can easily install them from the software repository of the Linux distro of your choice.

1. RawTherapee

RawTherapee is another cross-platform, free and open-source RAW image processing application supporting different image editing operations and a large number of file handling. Along with the usual RAW image files, it supports some less common types such as X-Trans, Foveon, and Pentax Pixel Shift.

RawTherapee

Features

  • 96-bit (floating point) processing engine.
  • Non-destructive editing.
  • Advanced color handling from white balance to HSV (Hue-Saturation-Value) curves, color toning and color management including wide-gamut and soft-proofing support.
  • Powerful CIE Color Appearance Model 2002 (CIECAM02) module.
  • Enhanced exposure and tonality tools: tone and Lab curves, highlights and shadows tools, tone mapping (HDR-like effect), etc.
  • Several tools to enhance details: unsharp mask, RL deconvolution, contrast by detail levels.

Installation on Linux distributions

It is available in the official repository of Ubuntu. You can simply look for it in the software center or install it using the Flatpak package on any Linux distribution.

You might want to refer to our Flatpak guide if you want help.

Alternatively, you can install it using the command below:

sudo apt install rawtherapee

2. digiKam

digiKam is another advanced open-source photo management application for Linux which can handle raw files and provides a comprehensive set of editing tools. Prominent features include adjusting colors, cropping and sharpening, curve adjustments, panorama stitching and more.

Features

  • Importing and processing RAW files and photos
  • digiKam core, image editor and image filters support 16 bits color depth pictures. Image Editor has a full-color management support using ICC color profiles.
  • Red-eye, brightness, contrast and Gamma correction
  • Color balance, blur/sharpen feature.
  • Black and White and tonality converter using curves adjustments.
  • Noise reduction, Liquid Rescale, Unsharp mask, correcting lens spherical aberration.
  • Hot Pixels Correction, Vignetting, Channel mixer, white balance etc.
  • Pseudo HDR-tone mapping tool to recover highlights and shadows while keeping local contrast.

Installation on Linux distributions

It is available in Ubuntu’s official repository. You can install it from the software center or just type in the following command:

sudo apt install digikam

You can also utilize the Flatpak package for any other Linux distribution.

3. Darktable

Darktable is an impressive open-source RAW image editing application which allows you to develop RAW images and enhance them. With fully non-destructive editing, Darktable comes with a powerful export system supporting Facebook web albums as well.

In addition to that, it also supports exporting RAW images to a lower dynamic range (JPEG, PNG, TIFF), 16-bit PPM or TIFF, or linear high dynamic range images.

Darktable RAW Image processing tool

Features

Darktable currently serves 47 image operations modules some of which are:

  • Crop and rotate, base curve presets, exposure controls, highlight reconstruction, white balance, demosaic, inverting options.
  • Local modification of the exposure based on pixel lightness, level adjustments.
  • Tone curve, changing lightness of the image, tone mapping.
  • Saturation enhancement, overexposed correction, channel mixer, color correction, contrast adjustment, color transfer from one image to another, managing color profiles.
  • Sharpen, equalizer, denoise, lens correction, spot removal, chromatic aberrations, hot pixels.
    Low light vision, split toning, framing, watermark support, soften, colorization options etc.

Installation on Linux distributions

It is available in the official repository. You can install it directly from the software center or type in the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install darktable

A flatpak package is also available for Linux distributions if you do not find it listed in your software repository.

4. Filmulator

Filmulator is a simple yet useful RAW image editor available for Linux desktop. It claims to simulate the film development process with its editing tools instead of simply applying a basic filter on top of an image.

If you’re curious to know more about it, you might want to check out our article on it.

Filmulate

Features

  • Compressing the output dynamic range
  • Enhancing local contrast
  • Histograms
  • Highlight Recovery

Installation on Linux distributions

It offers an AppImage file to help you get started on any Linux distribution. You can find it in the release section of its GitHub page.

You may refer to our AppImage guide if you need help.

5. Photivo

Note: It isn’t actively maintained for latest Linux distributions (Bitbucket). At the time of updating this article, Photivo is available for Ubuntu 18.04 and older through the PPA.

Photivo is a free and open source RAW file editor supporting almost all RAWs and Bitmaps. A plugin is available for GIMP integration, which allows sending your modified photos to GIMP for further retouching and color profiles. Best suited for distortion and geometry correction and adaptive saturation, Photivo is a powerful RAW editor.

photivo

Photivo features

  • 16-bit internal processing, color managed with LCMS2.
  • CA correction, Green equilibration, line denoise, bad pixel reduction, wavelet denoise, median filters on RAW data.
  • Tone mapping and split toning.
  • Several local contrast filters and Sharpen.
  • Denoise, separately on Luminance and Color (Edge avoiding wavelets, GreyCStoration, Wavelet, Masked bilateral, Pyramid).
  • Film grain simulation.
  • Black and white conversion and cross processing.
  • Texture overlay (external texture)
  • Fake tilt/shift, toy effect.

Installing Photivo on Ubuntu-based Linux distributions

To install it use the commands below:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dhor/myway
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install photivo

6. LightZone

LightZone is a non-destructive RAW image editor with a variety of tools and options that you can re-adjust and toggle them on/off anytime you want.

You can even apply the same tool stack to a batch of photos if required.

Lightzone

LightZone Features

  • Ability to read RAW files for a variety of cameras and display the metadata (e.g. exposure, ISO, flash, etc.)
  • Rating of images for one to five stars
  • Batch processing of files
  • Range of available style filters (e.g. Alien Infrared, Skin Glow, Polarizer, etc.)
  • Non-destructive tools including relight, sharpen, gaussian blur, hue/saturation, color balance, white balance, black & white, noise reduction, clone, spot, red eyes
  • Editing modes include crop, rotation, and region
  • Raw tone curve modification

Installing LightZone in Linux

You can easily install it on Ubuntu or Ubuntu-based distros using the PPA, here’s what you need to type in the terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:lightzone-team/lightzone
sudo apt update
sudo apt install lightzone

You can also find it in AUR for Arch-based Linux distros. For other distributions, you can refer to its GitHub page (under the releases section) for build instructions or installation instructions.

Wrapping up

There are a number of Open Source software tools for processing RAW images in Linux desktop. The ones mentioned here are feature-rich and should help you accomplish all your needs.

Of course, it needs prior experience working with RAW images to utilize all the features. So, if you’re new, I suggest you to do some research about it.

What do you prefer to edit RAW images on Linux? Is there any other tool available for Linux that we missed listing here? Let me know in the comments below.

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  • Tried all except Photivio which seemed to have been (re)moved. None of tools hase the ability to handle image libraries on smb share. Darktable just crashes, all others simply are not able to show the directories and/or files, some do not even offer access to directories which are not on the local maschine.
    Went back to Lightroom in a Win10 VirtualBox.