Top open source photo organizers

9 open source alternatives to Picasa

Open source alternatives to Picasa
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Are you a Picasa user?

After over a decade of ownership of the product, Google announced just a few weeks ago that they will be closing the shutters for good on Picasa, a cross-platform photo viewer and organizer with basic editing capabilities. In the official announcement, Google has set March 15 as the end of support for the desktop client, with changes to the accompanying web album hosting service set to roll out later in the spring.

While it wasn’t open source, as free product with a strong commercial backer, Picasa’s desktop client had become quite popular among amateur photographers, and so with news of the project’s discontinuation, many are wondering where to turn next for their photo management needs. Picasa was available across multiple platforms, and while it had not been recently packaged for Linux, it still worked well for many Linux users inside of Wine.

Sadly, this isn’t the first time we’ve had to recommend alternatives to a discontinued Google product; three years ago, we helped you find open source alternatives to Google Reader for your RSS reading needs.

While there’s no word yet on whether Google will release the code for Picasa under an open source license now that it has been discontinued, fortunately for you, there are many open source alternatives already out there to help you with your photo organizing and editing needs.

Photo viewers

For some, the greatest value in Picasa was just as a simple photo viewer and browser; a great to quickly flip through multiple images without waiting for a full fledged editor to load, but going a little above and beyond their operating system's default. Here are some great replacements for that need. Some, like Picasa, offer minor touch-up abilities, while others are strictly viewers.

  • Eye of GNOME, the built-in image viewer with many Linux distributions, does a fine job with displaying images in most common formats, although it is slated to see an upgrade in the near future as GNOME moves towards Sushi for file previews.
  • ImageGlass is another open source basic image viewer, which, while simple, benefits from the speed that comes with being so lightweight, and is a good choice for Windows users.
  • PhotoQt is a Qt-based image viewer for Windows or Linux which is designed to be fast and flexible with thumbnail caching, mouse and keyboard shortcuts, and support of many formats.

Photo organizers

The major functionality of Picasa that puts it above just a photo viewer is photo organizing. Once you’ve got a few hundred photos in your collection, a flat structure just won’t cut it; after a few thousand, it’s simply impossible. Additionally, photos often contain a great deal of metadata which can help in the organization process if you can easily edit it. Here are a few open source tools for organizing your photos.

  • DigiKam is an image organizer that is a part of the KDE family, supports hundreds of different file formats, has multiple different collection organization methods, and supports user plug-ins to extend its functionality. Of the open source image organizers listed here, it's probably the easiest to get working for Windows in addition to its native Linux packaging.
  • Shotwell is an image organizer which you'll find as the default in many GNOME-based distributions. It contains basic editing features like cropping, red eye reduction, and adjusting color levels, in addition to automatic organizing including grouping by date and tagging features.
  • F-Spot is another GNOME image organizer, and while it hasn't been updated in a few years, the older release which features basic tools for amateur photographers including basic editing functions, color adjustments, and exports to the web or photo CDs.
  • gThumb is another image viewer and browser for GNOME which has a similar feature set, including basic editing, web album export, batch renaming, etc.

Web albums

Picasa linked with an online album as well; Google is continuing on this functionality with Google Photos, but there are plenty of open source alternative for this function as well, for anyone willing to host their own web album software.

  • Piwigo is an open source photo gallery program written in PHP with a large community of users and developers, featuring a number of customizable features, themes, and a pluggable interface.
  • Coppermine Photo Gallery, another PHP/MySQL gallery program which you can easily self-host in your own web space, which integrates well into a number of content managers and forum systems.

So how about you? Are you a current or former Picasa user, looking for a new option to manage your photos? Or have you already moved on to something newer, and preferably, open? These certainly aren't all of the options out there, which ones are your favorites? Let us know in the comments below.

About the author

Jason Baker - Jason is passionate about using technology to make the world more open, from software development to bringing sunlight to local governments. Linux desktop enthusiast. Map/geospatial nerd. Raspberry Pi tinkerer. Data analysis and visualization geek. Occasional coder. Cloud nativist. Follow him on Twitter.