How to Install Darktable on Linux Mint 21/20

Darktable is a powerful and versatile open-source photography workflow application and raw developer. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable, and enables you to develop raw images and enhance them. It provides a comprehensive suite of tools and features designed for photographers, making it an excellent alternative to popular proprietary software like Adobe Lightroom.

Key differences and features of Darktable:

  • Open-source and free: Darktable is open-source software, which means you can use it without any cost, and the source code is freely available for examination, modification, and distribution.
  • Non-destructive editing: Darktable provides non-destructive editing, allowing you to make changes to your images without altering the original files. All the edits are stored in a separate sidecar file or within the Darktable database.
  • Modular and extensible: Darktable is designed with a modular architecture, making it easy to add or remove features via plugins. This extensibility ensures that the software can be tailored to individual needs and preferences.
  • Workflow-oriented: Darktable is built around a streamlined photography workflow, offering features like tethered shooting, geotagging, and an efficient tagging system. This focus on workflow enables photographers to focus on their creative process.
  • RAW support: Darktable supports a wide variety of camera RAW formats, allowing users to work with high-quality image files and take advantage of the full dynamic range of their cameras.
  • Powerful image processing: Darktable offers a robust set of image processing tools and modules, including advanced color correction, exposure adjustment, noise reduction, and more. With its advanced processing engine, Darktable can handle high-resolution images with ease.
  • Cross-platform compatibility: Darktable is available on multiple platforms, including Linux, macOS, and Windows, making it accessible to a wide range of users.

Following this guide will demonstrate how to install Darktable on Linux Mint 21 or Linux Mint 20 using two methods: with the command line terminal and with an apt or flatpak.

Section 1: Install Darktable with APT

Step 1: Update Linux Mint

Before installing Darktable, it’s essential to update your Linux Mint system to ensure all existing packages are up to date. This step helps avoid conflicts and ensures smooth installation.

Run the following command in the terminal to update your system:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Install Darktable

The first installation option uses the default APT package manager, the easiest and quickest method for Darktable installation. The APT package manager is native to Debian-based systems, including Linux Mint, and allows you to install, update, and remove software packages.

Run the following command in the terminal to install Darktable:

sudo apt install darktable

Section 2: Install Darktable with Flatpak and Flathub

The second installation option is using the Flatpak package manager. Flatpak comes pre-installed on Linux Mint unless you removed it. This package manager is an alternative to APT and Snap, designed for distributing sandboxed applications across different distributions.

Step 1: Enable Flatpak

First, enable Flatpak by adding the Flathub repository. Flathub is the largest collection of Flatpak applications, providing access to a wide range of software.

Run the following command in the terminal to enable Flatpak and Flathub:

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub

Step 2: Install Darktable with Flatpak

Now that Flatpak and Flathub are enabled, you can install Darktable using the following command:

flatpak install flathub org.darktable.Darktable -y

This command tells Flatpak to install the Darktable package from the Flathub repository. The -y option confirms the installation automatically, streamlining the process.

Section 3: How to Launch Darktable

Now that you have successfully installed Darktable on your Linux Mint system, several ways exist to launch the application.

Step 1: Launch Darktable from the terminal

The first method involves using the terminal to launch Darktable directly. This option is useful if you want to start the application immediately.

For APT users, type the following command in your terminal:


For Flatpak users, use this command instead:

flatpak run org.darktable.Darktable

While these commands launch Darktable, relying solely on the terminal is not always the most practical solution.

Step 2: Launch Darktable from the application menu

A more convenient way to launch Darktable is through the application menu, which allows you to access the software without using the terminal.

To open Darktable from the application menu:

  1. Click on the Menu button located in the bottom-left corner of your screen.
  2. Type “Darktable” in the search bar.
  3. Click on the Darktable icon to launch the application.

This method provides a more user-friendly experience and can be used regardless of whether you installed Darktable via APT or Flatpak.

Example of launching Darktable from the taskbar on Linux Mint:

Section 4: Getting Started with Darktable on Linux Mint

This section will provide some general tips, customization options, and other helpful information to help you get started with Darktable on Linux Mint. Remember, these tips are tailored specifically for Linux Mint users or can be used across different platforms, including Linux Mint.

General Tips

  • Keyboard shortcuts: Darktable has numerous keyboard shortcuts to speed up your workflow. To view the full list of shortcuts, press H when inside Darktable. You can customize these shortcuts by navigating to Settings (gear icon) > Shortcuts.
  • Presets: Save time by using built-in presets for various processing modules. To access presets, click on the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) in the top-right corner of each module. You can also create your own custom presets by adjusting the module settings and clicking on the + button next to the hamburger menu.
  • Styles: Apply a consistent look to multiple images using Styles. You can create, import, and export styles in the Lighttable view under the Styles panel.
  • Importing images: Import your photos into Darktable by clicking on the Import button in the Lighttable view. You can choose to import a single image, a folder, or even import images from a camera directly.


  • User Interface (UI) themes: Customize Darktable’s appearance by selecting a theme that suits your taste. Navigate to Settings (gear icon) > General > Themes and choose from the available options.
  • Changing the language: To change the interface language, go to Settings (gear icon) > General > Language and select your preferred language from the dropdown menu.
  • Tethered shooting: Connect your camera to your Linux Mint computer and control it directly from Darktable. This feature allows you to capture images, adjust settings, and import photos automatically. To access tethered shooting, switch to the Tethering view in Darktable.

Other Tips

  • Backup your database: Protect your edits and metadata by regularly backing up the Darktable database. By default, the database is located in ~/.config/darktable/. To create a backup, simply copy the library.db and data.db files to a safe location.
  • Optimize performance: If you’re experiencing performance issues, you can adjust the number of processor cores Darktable uses for certain tasks. Go to Settings (gear icon) > Core options > Performance and set the CPU and OpenCL options according to your hardware capabilities.
  • Geotagging: Add geographical information to your images using the Map view in Darktable. You can manually place images on the map or import GPS coordinates from a file.

By following these tips and customizations, you’ll be well on your way to mastering Darktable on Linux Mint.

Example of Darktable once installed on Linux Mint:

example darktable installed on linux mintPin

Section 4: Additional Commands & Tips

This section will cover how to update and uninstall Darktable on Linux Mint, depending on your installation method (APT or Flatpak). We’ll provide step-by-step instructions to ensure you understand the process.

How to Update Darktable

It’s essential to keep Darktable up to date to benefit from the latest features, bug fixes, and performance improvements. Depending on the method you used to install the software, follow the appropriate steps below to update Darktable.

APT Update Method

If you installed Darktable using the APT package manager, run the following command in the terminal to update both your system and the Darktable application:

sudo apt upgrade && sudo apt upgrade

Flatpak Update Method

If you installed Darktable using Flatpak, execute the following command in the terminal to update all Flatpak applications:

flatpak update

How to Remove (Uninstall) Darktable

If you no longer require Darktable, you can uninstall it by following the steps below. Make sure to use the command that corresponds to your original installation method (APT or Flatpak).

APT Remove Method

To uninstall Darktable using the APT package manager, execute the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt remove darktable

Flatpak Remove Method

To uninstall Darktable using Flatpak, run the following command in the terminal:

flatpak uninstall --delete-data org.darktable.Darktable

Conclusion: Installing Darktable on Linux Mint

In conclusion, installing Darktable on Linux Mint provides a powerful and versatile solution for managing and processing your digital photos. With two installation methods (APT and Flatpak), you can choose the approach that best suits your preferences and system requirements. Once installed, Darktable offers a wealth of features and customization options to optimize your digital photography workflow.

Additional Resources and Links

To help you further explore and learn about Darktable, we’ve compiled a list of official resources and links. These sources provide in-depth information, tutorials, and documentation so that you can get the most out of your Darktable experience.

  • Darktable Official Website: The official Darktable website provides the latest news, updates, and information about the software.
  • Darktable User Manual: The comprehensive user manual covers all aspects of using Darktable, from installation and configuration to advanced features and modules.
  • Darktable GitHub Repository: The official GitHub repository contains the source code, as well as the latest bug reports and development updates.

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