Darktable is a free and open-source photography application program and raw developer. Rather than being a raster graphics editor like Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, it comprises a subset of image editing operations specifically aimed at non-destructive raw image post-production. In addition to basic RAW conversion, Darktable is equipped with various tools for basic and advanced image editing. These include adjustment of white balance, exposure, tone curve, color management, luminance, and saturation levels, cropping and straightening, retouching (including clone tool and heal Selection tools), and the ability to merge multiple images into a single composite photo. Darktable also offers a wide range of filters that can be applied to individual and group photos. These filters can mimic the look of traditional film photography effects, or they can create entirely new and unique looks. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started in photography, Darktable has something to offer everyone.
The following tutorial will teach you how to install Darktable on Linux Mint 21 LTS release series desktop using the command line terminal using three methods: the default apt repository, flatpak, or a launchpad ppa.
Table of Contents
Update Linux Mint
First, update your system to ensure all existing packages are up to date to avoid conflicts.
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y
Use the following command to install or check if the packages are installed.
sudo apt install dirmngr ca-certificates software-properties-common gnupg gnupg2 apt-transport-https -y
Install Darktable – APT Default Method
The first installation option is the default APT package manager, the easiest and quickest method for installing Darktable installation.
Run the following command to install the software.
sudo apt install darktable -y
Install Darktable – APT PPA Method
The second and probably the best method to utilize the APT package manager is to install the PPA by Rob Savoury. He has maintained many PPAs for quite a long time amongst many Ubuntu LTS distributions.
First, import the GPG key needed for all the repositories.
If you have issues importing the GPG key, please see the end section on GPG troubleshooting at the end of the article.
sudo gpg --no-default-keyring --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/rob-savoury.gpg --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys E996735927E427A733BB653E374C7797FB006459
Import the Darktable/Graphics PPA.
echo 'deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/rob-savoury.gpg] https://ppa.launchpadcontent.net/savoury1/graphics/ubuntu jammy main' | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/graphics-rob-savoury.list
Secondly, it is recommended to import the FFMPEG PPA by Rob Savoury for multimedia compatibility, as these contain updated dependencies that reflect Darktable and many other applications on your desktop.
echo 'deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/rob-savoury.gpg] https://ppa.launchpadcontent.net/savoury1/ffmpeg4/ubuntu jammy main' | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ffmpeg-4-rob-savoury.list echo 'deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/rob-savoury.gpg] https://ppa.launchpadcontent.net/savoury1/ffmpeg5/ubuntu jammy main' | sudo tee -a /etc/apt/sources.list.d/ffmpeg-5-rob-savoury.list
Note that importing these PPAs will give you the latest in many multimedia packages. This will be desirable for most users, but note that with any PPA, instabilities can occur. The Rob Savory PPAs are known to be well and truly stable so that issues will be at a minimum, and he is swift in updating packages.
Next, run an APT update to reflect the new additions.
sudo apt-get update
Before you continue, run an APT upgrade as many dependencies will need to be upgraded, it is best to do this before the installation.
sudo apt upgrade
Now install Darktable.
sudo apt install darktable -y
Install Darktable – Flatpak Method
The third option is to use the Flatpak package manager. This comes installed on Linux Mint unless you removed it. This is another popular option similar to Snap but is featured amongst many distributions as an alternative third-party installation package manager for the latest packages.
First, re-install Flatpak if you have removed the package manager previously. Remember, this should be already installed on your system.
sudo apt install flatpak -y
For users re-installing Flatpak, it is often recommended to reboot your system. Failure to do this can occur with odd issues, such as paths not being generated for icons.
SKIP THE REBOOT IF FLATPAK IS INSTALLED.
Next, you need to enable Flatpack using the following command in your terminal.
sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
Now install Darktable using the following flatpak command.
flatpak install flathub org.darktable.Darktable -y
How to Launch Darktable
Launching can be done in a few ways now that you have the software installed.
First, in your terminal, type the following command to launch immediately.
Alternatively, Flatpak users will need to launch using the command below from a terminal instance.
flatpak run org.darktable.Darktable
However, this is not practical, and you would use the following path on your desktop.
Activities > Graphics > Darktable.
Once open, you can begin to use image-editing software. For complete documentation on getting started with Darktable, I suggest first-time users visit the official Darktable resources page.
How to Update/Upgrade Darktable
Depending on the method of installation used, the following commands can be used to update.
APT Update Method
sudo apt upgrade && sudo apt upgrade
Flatpak Update Method
How to Remove (Uninstall) Darktable
Use one of the following commands to suit the original installation method for users who no longer require the application.
APT Remove Method
sudo apt autoremove darktable -y
Flatpak Remove Method
flatpak uninstall --delete-data org.darktable.Darktable
Next, run the following command for any leftover clean-up.
flatpak remove --unused
How to Fix Broken GPG Import
Users that have installed Linux Mint for the first time or have not imported a GPG key before using the command line terminal will often have issues importing GPG keys from LaunchPAD PPAs due to the directories not being created. This is an easy fix. Use the following command that will, in turn, generate the directories.
sudo gpg --list-keys
As above, the necessary directories have been created. This can be skipped, and use the following GPG import command below. If you have any issues with directories missing for this and any other PPA GPG key in the future, just run the above command.
Comments and Conclusion
Darktable is an excellent photo editing program for Linux users. It’s open source and free to download, and it has various features that make it an ideal choice for photographers of all levels of experience. If you’re looking for an alternative to Photoshop or GIMP, or if you’re starting in photography and need a good basic editor, Darktable is worth checking out.