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Working with graphics under Linux

This page may now be out-dated - for example okular and gimp are probably more useful

This page is a brief summary of the software which is available for manipulating graphics under Linux. To find out more about a piece of software, check its man page or Google for it.


  • To view an image, double-click on it in the File Manager. ristretto runs the same image viewer from the command line.
  • Or open it in your web browser. Firefox has an "Open File" option in the File menu, or you can type a special URL of the form
  • Or use xv - right-click on the image to bring up the xv menu.

Drawing and plotting

For drawing, use xfig. It is mostly intuitive to use. The following options are particularly helpful for accurate drawing.

  • Grid mode will display a square grid (like drawing on squared paper).
  • Point posn allows the points you select to snap to a virtual grid (take care, this need not be the same size as the grid displayed by grid mode, unless you keep them the same yourself).
  • Angle geom restricts the slopes of lines e.g. to only those which can be produced by LaTeX, or to just horizontal, vertical and 45Ā° ("Mounthatten").

For plotting, use gnuplot or xmgrace or any mathematical software package such as R or Mathematica.

Editing (mostly for photographic images)

xv works well for simple manipulations such as cropping an image or reducing its size. For more complex manipulations use The GIMP.

See also