The GNU Image Manipulation Program (Gimp) has been around since 1995. The Gimp story was begun by two University of California at Berkeley students named Spencer Kimball and Peter Mattis, who started writing a “Photoshop-like” program for an undergraduate class in computer science. Over the course of the next year they crafted the program into a smart, expandable image manipulation system. The first public release was version 0.54, at which point they invited others to contribute. A couple of years and several thousand lines of code contributed by people all over the world later, Gimp 1.0 was released. It is a remarkably slick and stable platform for creating computer graphics, particularly graphics intended for use on the Web.
The Gimp has received a lot of positive press as a “Linux thing.” That is, as a shining example of the power of the open source development model. The pieces of the core Gimp distribution (as well as the majority of the plug-ins) are covered by the GNU Public License. It has also moved beyond its origins on the Linux platform; there are versions for other Unix platforms, as well as ports for an OS/2 version of Gimp (URL) and a limited Win32 port. It is probably more accurate to call the Gimp a success story for the free software movement as a whole.
Right off the bat I’m going to say that this chapter is not intended as a manual for the Gimp. There is a fine 500+ page “open document” manual available called the