Mac X11 goodies

The new Mac OS X release, 10.4 and codenamed ‘Tiger’, is out soon. I won’t be among those in line at the Apple stores to upgrade to it, at least not right away, as I’m pretty happy with my current environment.

My camera software and Adobe PhotoShop both work nicely with 10.3, though I am noticing some memory problems when I run PhotoShop and certain other applications at the same time. Additionally, access to the Unix bits works nicely, including the integrated X11–X Window System–support. If you’re not familiar with Xll, this is the standard GUI interface prominant among Unix boxes, and is also a way for applications created for Linux to run within Mac OS X, without having to use the Apple user interface components.

Thanks to the built-in X11, I’m able to run OpenOffice, which gives me access to Microsoft Office documents on my Mac without having to buy Office for the Mac or install a PC emulator. (I’m running the stable 1.1.4 build, not the beta because of a vulnerability just discovered in 2.0.)

Over at the Wordform site, James Robinson mentioned GIMP for free graphics and photo software on the Mac OS X, and I installed the 2.2.6 application bundle. What a lovely application, and a decent alternative to PhotoShop for those who can’t quite shell out the hundreds that Adobe wants for its software. Especially since there is not just one but three GIMP plugins to work with D70 RAW images.

Of course, to install the RawPhoto plugin, I needed to have access to the gimptool2 utility. To have gimptool2, I needed to install the gimp2-dev toolkit. To install gimp2-dev, I had to make sure that Fink (a Mac OS X installer) was configured to work with unstable builds. To make sure Fink could work with unstable builds, I had to update the configuration file, synch up the package binary on my machine, re-configure it, and then run the fink installer. To run fink without warnings I had to install a new verision of gcc. To continue the installation, I had to install Perl’s XML::Parser. To install the … well, let’s just say that I now have much more software on my machine than I used to. And all for a plugin.

Still, gimp is a fun tool, and you can’t go wrong with ‘free’. However, if you try it on your Mac, you may want to bag the NEF plugin.

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