How dirty is the Gimp?
January 16, 2006 2:03 PM   Subscribe

I'm evaluating The Gimp for use in a corporate setting, and it's looking pretty nice. Now, however, someone in desktop software is saying it's not allowed because it installs naughty things...

So, they're looking for a cheap alternative to Photoshop: while the team needs some graphic editing capabilities (more than Paint), full PS licenses are going to be a really hard sell (politically, too). I'm liking The Gimp, but in the course of trying to get GimpShop installed, all of a sudden I get this back from the software people:

Gimp is currently on the software restricted list. When this software was installed another application was also installed. This other application discovered by the Desktop team created peer to peer shares to the internet. This could allow a host PC running the application to be compromised and allow protected customer information to be harvested. If customer data loss took place by the use of such a program, we would be open to severe penalties etc. etc. etc.

In the past, I've talked to a lot of people who know scary amounts about computers, and watch their boxen carefully - and they've all been all about The Gimp. Searching isn't getting me anything other than this 100% great rating from softpedia.

Since I can't find anything that backs this up, I'm suspecting FUD.* Regardless, I'd like to have my ducks in a row before I try to call them on it and they try their moon language on me. Could this have been some sort of rogue demon hunter install? Are they crazy? Is The Gimp dirty? Is this a known thing and not an issue for just everyone else in the world?

*only because it's happened before
posted by mimi to Computers & Internet (32 answers total)
It sounds to me like they're confusing GTK (the graphical toolkit library that The Gimp uses) with some sort of other software. At the worst, it sounds like they're confusing GNU and Gnutella! In any case, this sounds completely wrong to me.
posted by mikeh at 2:21 PM on January 16, 2006

if youre running windows i'd say your tech team is probably afraid of gtk (which you need to have for gimp)

gimp is not dirty

there are some more nice free/cheap photoshop alternatives/near-alternatives out there, so even if the gimp is feared and banned forever you can ask for paint .net
posted by suni at 2:22 PM on January 16, 2006

lol, mikeh is right, gtk-gnutella :D
posted by suni at 2:24 PM on January 16, 2006

First and foremost, I'd join one of the Gimp mailing lists (whichever is most appropriate) and raise the concern sent to you by your software people, to see what more experienced users in the community have to say. You could even join the Developer mailing list, available at that link, and ask in there.

As for other alternatives, Xara Xtreme is definitely worth a look. Currently only available on Windows (you don't mention a platform?) for $79US, with the Linux / MacOS versions in development and slated to be free when released. Xara Xtreme is more of a vector graphics application (ie more like Adobe Illustrator than Adobe Photoshop), but does handle most pixel based operations equally well, if my memories of giving it a trial run serve me right.
posted by planetthoughtful at 2:27 PM on January 16, 2006

it surprises me. i have gimp installed on windows and have never had any problems - i would be aware of any p2p activity (for example, skype scared the heck out of me until i found a reverse-engineered description of its protocol). can you ask them for more details?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:29 PM on January 16, 2006

Yeah, it sounds like they're full of it. I've installed Gimp numerous times and never had anything close to that happen.
posted by jackofsaxons at 2:31 PM on January 16, 2006

They are on crack; the gimp is clean. You need to press them to demonstrate this alleged vulnerability and videotape the demo for us.
posted by Wolfdog at 2:32 PM on January 16, 2006

Response by poster: Er, yeah, it's all Windows there.
posted by mimi at 2:33 PM on January 16, 2006

They are hallucinating.
posted by ori at 2:40 PM on January 16, 2006

if "something else is installed with it" download the source and build your own executables. Its not very difficult.
posted by devilsbrigade at 2:51 PM on January 16, 2006

the gimp is dirt-free, and very nicely written, and FREE. print this page out and present it to your misled desktop people. they are *wrong*.
posted by mcstayinskool at 2:56 PM on January 16, 2006

FUD? What is FUD?

Please enlighten me. Thank you.
posted by younggreenanne at 3:06 PM on January 16, 2006

This is complete asininity on the part of your software people. The GIMP is as clean as they come. For God's sake, the source code is open to inspection -- you could roll your own binary if necessary.
posted by killdevil at 3:09 PM on January 16, 2006

Fear, Uncertantity and Doubt, the three pronged attack often used against software that's made by dirty hippies who want to communize your computer and steal your women.

If they're not blowing smoke, it's possible someone fell for a site like this what tries to sell you something free, and what might come with some "bonus" software installed too.
posted by Capn at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2006

Response by poster: FUD = fear/uncertainty/doubt. In addition to the definition there, it's also used when someone makes up a big scary reason why something can't be done when it really can (like when I say there's "no way to make rainbow gradient buttons in Photoshop"). Sorry, it looks like my sexy acronym tag got stripped out.
posted by mimi at 3:11 PM on January 16, 2006

This is utter bollocks.

The Gimp does NOT install anything dirty. Your IT team is full of it.
posted by teece at 3:16 PM on January 16, 2006

And to be more constructive: mikeh is most likely on the right track.

The Gimp use GTK -- which is a windowing widgets toolkit: GTK draws the buttons, boxes, etc. on the screen for Gimp.

Your (really uninformed about free software) IT department is probably making the REALLY stupid mistake of confusing GTK with GTK-Gnutella, which is a Gnutella file-sharing application, which just also happens to use the GTK windowing API.

Again, the IT department is most certainly 100% wrong. They've made a very ignorant mistake.
posted by teece at 3:22 PM on January 16, 2006

What about Photoshop Album or Photoshop Elements?
posted by designbot at 3:50 PM on January 16, 2006

If your IT guys are unconvinced, tell them to search Slashdot. If such a thing as a dirty GIMP installer existed, it would have already come out.
posted by Dipsomaniac at 4:13 PM on January 16, 2006

GIMP and GIMPshop are completely clean; I've used both on my Windows computer. It's open-source, how the heck would someone hide something in it? If they really won't budge, I second the Paint Shop Pro suggestion, I got my copy for $80 and it's just as capable as Photoshop.
posted by katyggls at 4:34 PM on January 16, 2006

Because the GIMP is freely licensed, it's possible that someone, somewhere, bundled it with some other software that included p2p capabilities. But the installers linked from are completely clean and open-source, and have never set off the virus or adware detectors on my machines. (They're hosted on, which doesn't even allow closed source software, much less spyware.) They don't include any sort of p2p program.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:49 PM on January 16, 2006

This post sums it up pretty well for me:

"The argument people have used is "if you don't like a piece of open source software, you can always pitch in and help" ... sure. Adobe has a development team of 50 people devoted to Photoshop who have worked for more than a decade on the program. Finding people with the talent, taste and deep appreciation of the problem for large specialized pieces of software is none trivial. GIMP has done impressive things getting as far as it has, but the effort required to make it even as usable as Photoshop Elements would be formidable.

Serious users will focus on Photoshop. It isn't cheap, but in its intended market a computer and the software is a necessary tool for getting work done. If I do $150k billable in a year (not unusual in advertising), I'm going to take advantage of a $650 program that is the only practical way for me to get there. "

The GIMP is, and this is no slur, designed by and for hardcore geeks, not creatives. Get Photoshop, or one of its less expensive versions mentioned above. You won't be sorry.
posted by Scoo at 6:11 PM on January 16, 2006

I got a freebie from a magazine called "Photo Impact". I quite like it for editing. I'm no expert, I'm not even a skilled armature. Photoshop irritates me.

For enhancing photos, PS Elements, free with my camera, does nice things quite easily.

(Edit=manual pixel work. Enhance=color/light adjustments)
posted by Goofyy at 7:50 PM on January 16, 2006

If the IT team is really panicky about it.... have them build you a GIMP install from source. They can be ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN the binaries are clean if they build them inhouse.
posted by Malor at 10:32 PM on January 16, 2006

If the IT team is really panicky about it.... have them build you a GIMP install from source.

If they could do that, they wouldn't be working in IT. Sad but true.
posted by kindall at 10:43 PM on January 16, 2006

If they could do that, they wouldn't be working in IT. Sad but true.

Of course there *are* exceptions to that rule. Many of my super talented programmer comrades from school ended up in IT department jobs because they preferred it to being a code-monkey. Crazy, I know, but they liked the social interaction every day, even if it WAS with complete raging morons. :)
posted by antifuse at 1:26 AM on January 17, 2006

since when is it hard to build a program from source? I think you underestimate IT or have bad IT guys/gals.
posted by meta87 at 4:19 AM on January 17, 2006

I don't know what your requirements are, but before you decide on the GIMP evaluate Paint dot Net...It's free and super awesome.
posted by jaded at 5:18 AM on January 17, 2006

In defense of the GIMP, the usability and interface design is actually much better in recent versions than it was just a year or two ago. There's still a learning curve, but I personally find it a very useful program.
posted by mbrubeck at 9:04 AM on January 17, 2006

since when is it hard to build a program from source?

If all your experience is on Windows, as is the case with most IT staff today (especially those working in all-Windows shops)? Is this a trick question?
posted by kindall at 9:11 AM on January 17, 2006

Response by poster: ok! Some followup! What they're concerned about is something called "Nova" that popped up in the Gimp directory, which they're saying is this (which seems quoted from a site) -

Nova is an open source client operating on the Gnutella network. The aim of Nova is to provide an uncluttered environment to share all types of files, not to confuse you with jargon and expect you to learn it all before you can use the application. Nova is 100% free of spyware.

Which seems REALLY strange. With a just a cursory Google, I'm seeing that there's a plugin called Nova that does something with light angles. I'm wondering if their automatic scanning software picked it up and they didn't double-check.

since when is it hard to build a program from source?
Kindall's right. When they shut down "outside" e-mail, meaning people weren't allowed to look at their gmail or whatever, someone asked if it was ok to run it through as another address on Outlook, since that would presumably run it through the superdooper virus scanner. The IT response: "You can do that?"
posted by mimi at 1:40 PM on January 17, 2006

Response by poster: Indeed:
  1. nova.exe -Gimp plug-in -makes pretty star effects -dependent (won't run on its own) -code in my plugin directory matches link above
  2. nova.exe -gnutella p2p app -clean file sharing -something else entirely!
It showed up as flagged in an automatic sweep of the box they installed Gimp on and they didn't look further. Let's hope they're more flexible than the TSA... Thanks everyone for your help!!
posted by mimi at 2:44 PM on January 17, 2006

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