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Linux goes Hollywood

Given how adorable that penguin mascot is, it’s no wonder that everyone in Hollywood is embracing Linux. Now, they’re finding out that the little guy has some serious muscle as well.

The adoption of Linux by major film and animation studios has put increased emphasis on running graphics applications on Linux. Disney, DreamWorks SKG, Pixar Animation Studios, and Lucas Digital Industrial Light and Magic have all turned to Linux for major portions of their work. This is great news for professionals and amateurs alike who support Linux and want to continue doing their work on the open-source platform.

Despite some early promises (and a few beta versions), major graphics firms such as Adobe have not ported their applications to Linux, even though major movie studios such as Disney have migrated to Linux. Corel, makers of CorelDRAW and a whole suite of graphics applications, used to offer Linux versions of the suite, but have since distanced themselves from it. Other applications, such as Jasc’s PaintShopPro, have never been offered in Linux versions.

For many graphics arts professionals, Adobe’s Photoshop is a required application. Users need Photoshop not only for its features, but also for its user interface, which users have spent years working with and getting used to. While other applications may contain functionality similar to that of Photoshop, the fact that they are different is enough to dissuade some users. With no native Linux version, this has led users, including Disney, to try running Photoshop under WINE.

WINE provides the ability to run many Windows applications under Linux on Intel systems. The Frank’s Corner WINE site provides simple instructions for Photoshop 5.5. Other articles on the WINE application database cover Photoshop 7.0.

CodeWeavers’ CrossOver Office is one alternative that supports Photoshop 7.0. CrossOver Office includes WINE along with extensions from CodeWeavers, and CrossOver Office 2.1 costs US $59.95 per user.

Other users have documented techniques for running PaintShopPro under WINE.

In addition to running Windows applications on Linux, there are also native Linux applications for graphics, although none are as well-known as Photoshop. The major application, known as the GIMP (short for the GNU Image Manipulation Program), provides extensive graphics support. Many users see it as a viable replacement for Adobe’s Photoshop, but the GIMP has not made a lot of inroads into the graphics marketplace, which remains dominated by Photoshop.

While the GIMP supports 16 bits of color per pixel, a variant called CinePaint supports 32 bits of color per pixel, making it much more desirable for the film industry. Originally called Film Gimp, CinePaint has been used in the Harry Potter films, “Scooby-Doo,” “Stuart Little,” and “2 Fast 2 Furious.”

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