GIMP open source image editor forked to fix ‘problematic’ name


GIMP open source image editor:

Glimpse is a fork of the popular open source image editor, GIMP, created primarily to offer the software under an alternative name.

GIMP is a longstanding project, first announced in November 1995. The name was originally an acronym for General Image Manipulation Program but this was changed to GNU Image Manipulation Program.

The new fork springs from a discussion on Gitlab, where the source code is hosted. The discussion has been hidden but is available on web archives here. A topic titled “Consider renaming GIMP to a less offensive name,” opened by developer Christopher Davis, stated:

Others opined that changing the name of long-established software would hurt its recognition and usage. The discussion became bad-tempered and caught the attention of Bobby Moss, whose day job is a technical writer at Oracle.

GIMP open source

“I’m a long-standing user of the project,” he told The Reg. “I saw the abuse and unpleasant things being said to Chris. It was decidedly not cool and not how we should make decisions in free software. I also thought the arguments he made were well reasoned, not focused so much on the offensiveness of the name but on the marketability of the application.”

Moss therefore forked the project into a new one called Glimpse.

“Initially I thought it was just going to be a quirky project on my own private GitHub but people expressed enthusiasm for it. It’s evolved now into this new thing where you’ve got multiple people running it, myself, Chris who originally posted the issue, and another woman called Clipsey … it’s all kind of ballooned out from there.”

image editor

The subject of the suitability of the name is not new, and is enshrined in the official FAQ:

The Glimpse project is therefore entirely within the spirit of open source. “We believe free software should be accessible to everyone, and in this case a re-brand is both a desirable and very straightforward fix that could attract a whole new generation of users and contributors,” says the About page.

The team wish to continue using the upstream GIMP project libraries and are asking for donations to GIMP as well as Glimpse.

The developers are planning more than just a name change, including a “front-end UI rewrite” according to an update posted a week ago. The team is looking at screenshots of existing image editing application user interfaces to inform design mockups. There is also a discussion about language choices. Rust with GTK (Gnome Toolkit) bindings, perhaps? C++ and Qt?

Changing the user interface is more challenging than changing the name. We wonder if it is all a little too much to take on?

 

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