Advances of freedom

I’ve been hacking at gnome-color-manager for a few weeks now. We had a first release last week, and we’ve since been adding in more new features and a couple of nice bugfixes. But that’s not what this blog post is all about.

A typical target
A typical target

To calibrate a device, you need to scan in (or take a photograph of) a very accurately printed image. These printed images are called “targets” and usually come with a CD-ROM of the calibration data for that batch, or a URL of where to get the calibration data from.

Now, the number of people wanting to use a calibration target is going to increase in the future, as they’ll want to have a color-calibrated workflow whilst using Linux. These random CD-ROMs that get lost and URLs that might vanish don’t seem so easy to use when you’re calibrating 200 workstations, maybe using a different type of target for scanner, camera and film. And re-calibrating them all two years later doesn’t look like fun either.

So, ideally, we would ask the manufacturers of the calibration data (just big text files of numbers), and we could ship it in a shared package, that the distros can ship. Unfortunately, a lot of the targets in existence have NDA or horrible licensing terms shipped with them. This makes distros like Fedora that can only ship free software and content sad.

Enter Wolf Faust. He’s the bloke that’s been shipping high quality IT8 targets all over the world for the last few years. He’ll ship you just a single target (there is no minimum order), so it’s enthusiast friendly. The pricing is cheap (25 Euro) and postage and packaging is reasonable (5 Euro), which makes him the obvious choice for someone that just needs a target or two to calibrate their photographic or graphics workflow.

Wolf Faust has just released his entire set of calibration data under a free license. This means we can ship it in a distro package, so that calibrating a scanner is as simple as borrowing a target from a friend and taking a photo of it and then selecting a target name from a GUI drop-down. No need to fumble about with CDROMs or downloading the correct target from a website, now it just works.

Now, I guess Wolf has realized by making the calibration data “free” content, he’ll sell more targets; and I hope he does. If you make it easier for people to use your product more people will buy it for sure. It makes no sense keeping this data secret and wrapped up in legalese. It might not be much, but this for me is an advance of freedom, as much as just-another-package in a repository.

Note, gnome-color-manager will install shared-color-targets automatically using PackageKit if you try to calibrate a device and it’s not already installed. We’ll do the first official release of shared-color-targets just after Christmas.

Shared color profiles

A few days ago I created the shared-color-profiles project. This contains redistributable ICC profiles from different vendors (some free, some non-free). The configure script allows a distro to install just the profile types that are acceptable. In Fedora, that boils down to the profiles in public domain, but we’re hoping to add CC-BY-SA and CC-BY-ND manufacturer submitted profiles really soon. At the moment I’ve added Adobe, Argyll, ECI, ICC and IDEAlliance profiles. A few people are interested in creating profiles for common cameras models, although this would probably be a community supported effort rather than a vendor-supported effort. Anyway, doing this allows us to define proper color working spaces and default spaces to use in applications.

Anyway, if you know of any vendors or standard bodies that have released profiles that allow distribution as part of a combined package, or as CC-BY-foo or public domain then please let me know as a comment on this blog. Thanks.

GNOME Color Manager release next Monday

Next Monday I intend to release the first supported version of gnome-color-manager (2.29.1) into the wild.

There have been quite a few new features added to git master recently, and very many bugs squashed. I wanted to thank Pascal de Bruijn for the hours and hours of regression testing he’s been doing, and quite a few other people on the mailing list that have also been reporting bugs before the release. There are quite a few translations already committed, so the first release should look really good.

New features added in the last couple of weeks:

  • Ability to support and manage “disconnected” devices
  • Cairo CIE widget showing gamut ranges
  • Ability to delete and import existing profiles
  • Adding of the rendering intent settings to the DBus interface for applications to use

More testing is always welcome. Thanks!