How to Install Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Darktable is a compelling open-source software solution for photography enthusiasts and professionals alike. Designed as a virtual light table and darkroom, it caters to the intricate needs of photographers, especially when handling digital negatives or RAW images. This guide will illuminate the steps to install Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa, ensuring you’re equipped with a top-tier tool for your photography endeavors.

Key Features of Darktable:

  • Non-destructive Editing: Preserve the integrity of original images with Darktable’s non-destructive approach, allowing for reversible edits without compromising the initial image data.
  • RAW Image Mastery: Darktable shines in processing RAW images, offering tools that significantly uplift image quality.
  • Versatile Modules: Benefit from many modules and plugins, granting users nuanced control over their photographic creations.
  • Tethered Shooting: Ideal for studios, Darktable supports tethered shooting, facilitating direct shooting within the application.
  • GPU Optimization: Harness the power of modern graphic cards with Darktable’s GPU acceleration, ensuring swift editing of high-resolution images.
  • Universal Availability: Darktable’s presence spans major operating systems, including Linux, macOS, and Windows.
  • Precision in Color: With its robust color management, Darktable ensures precise color rendition through a comprehensive array of standard color profiles.
  • Export Excellence: Darktable’s advanced exporting capabilities allow for diverse format exports, with options for style application and watermarking.

Darktable’s distinction lies in its open-source foundation, rich feature set, and commitment to non-destructive editing. Its focus on providing a seamless, end-to-end photography workflow while empowering users with complete control over their images positions it uniquely in the photography software spectrum.

As you venture into photography as a novice or a seasoned expert, Darktable stands ready as a potent, adaptable ally. Now, let’s delve into the installation process of Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa LTS Linux, exploring methods like APT, Snap, and Flatpak.

Install Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via APT

Step 1: Updating Your Ubuntu System Before Darktable Installation

Before installing any new software, it’s a good practice to ensure your current system packages are up-to-date. This mitigates potential compatibility issues that may arise during the installation process.

To do this, run the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

The sudo apt update command fetches the package information from all configured sources – in other words, it updates the list of available packages and their versions. The sudo apt upgrade command, on the other hand, will upgrade the currently installed packages to their latest versions.

After running these commands, if you notice that a substantial amount of packages have been updated, or if kernel packages were part of the update, it’s advisable to reboot your system to ensure changes are appropriately applied.

Step 2: Install Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via APT Command

Now, with your Ubuntu system updated, we can proceed with the installation of Darktable. For this guide, we’ll first use the Advanced Packaging Tool (APT), which is a package management command-line tool used by Ubuntu and other Debian-based distributions.

Installing Darktable using the APT manager is straightforward. This convenience is one reason why this method is popular among Ubuntu users.

In your terminal, execute the following command:

sudo apt install darktable

With sudo apt install darktable, we’re requesting administrative permissions (sudo) to use the APT tool (apt) to install (install) Darktable (darktable). Once you run this command, the APT tool will fetch the necessary packages from its repositories and start the installation process.

Install Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via Snap

Another prevalent method of software installation on Ubuntu systems is using Snap. Snap is a universal packaging system that allows you to install applications across many Linux distributions while maintaining isolation from the rest of the system. It offers automatic updates and rollback functionality for apps, enhancing system stability.

Ubuntu systems have Snap pre-installed, making it a convenient alternative for users who prefer using this packaging system over others.

To install Darktable using Snap, you’ll need to run the following command in your terminal:

sudo snap install darktable

With this command, sudo snap install darktable, you’re instructing your system to utilize Snap (snap) with administrative permissions (sudo) to install (install) Darktable (darktable). The Snap system will then proceed to fetch the latest version of Darktable from the Snap repository and install it onto your system.

Install Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via Flatpak and Flathub

Flatpak offers another package management option for Linux users. It’s a universal packaging system designed for Linux software distribution, much like Snap. However, unlike Snap, Flatpak isn’t installed by default on Ubuntu systems, given that Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, developed Snap. Nevertheless, you can choose to install Flatpak if you wish.

Flatpak isolates applications from the rest of the system, which boosts system security and stability. Plus, Flatpak can provide sandboxed applications, making it an appealing choice for many users.

Step 1: Enabling Flathub Repository for Darktable on Ubuntu

Before we install Darktable through Flatpak, we need to ensure that the Flathub repository is enabled on your system. Flathub is a primary source for Flatpak applications, hosting a large number of Linux apps.

To enable Flathub, run the following command:

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

This command configures your Flatpak setup to recognize the Flathub repository. This way, you have access to numerous applications, including Darktable.

Install Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via Flatpak Command

With the Flathub repository enabled, we can proceed with the Darktable installation. Use the following command to install Darktable via Flatpak:

flatpak install flathub org.darktable.Darktable -y

This command instructs Flatpak to install Darktable from the Flathub repository.

If Flatpak isn’t installed on your system, you can refer to our guide on “How to Install Flatpak on Ubuntu” for step-by-step instructions on how to install the most recent supported version of Flatpak.

Launching Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Now that we’ve successfully installed Darktable using either APT, Snap, or Flatpak, it’s time to open the software and explore its capabilities. There are several methods to launch Darktable, and we will cover each one depending on your installation method.

Method 1: Launching Darktable from Terminal on Ubuntu

Launching Darktable from the terminal provides an immediate method to get started with the software. If you installed Darktable using APT, you can initiate it directly from the terminal with the following command:


For those who installed Darktable using Snap, the command to launch the application from the terminal changes slightly:

snap run darktable

In contrast, if you’ve installed Darktable using Flatpak, the command to launch the application from the terminal becomes:

flatpak run org.darktable.Darktable

Remember, running applications directly from the terminal might not be the most practical choice for day-to-day use, especially if you’re not typically working within the terminal.

Method 2: Launching Darktable from Desktop Application Menu on Ubuntu

Most likely, you’ll prefer a more user-friendly approach for daily use. That’s where the Desktop Application Menu comes in. You can find Darktable among your other installed applications and launch it with a simple click.

To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Click on the “Show Applications” button on your desktop.
  2. In the search bar that appears, type “Darktable”.
  3. Click on the Darktable icon to launch the application.
Screenshot showcasing the Darktable application icon on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux desktop.Pin
Spot the Darktable icon on your Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux desktop after installation.

Tips on Getting Started with Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Now that you have successfully installed Darktable, let’s dig into some tips and tricks that can enhance your user experience. It’s important to remember that Darktable is a robust, open-source photo editing software and, as such, it has a vast array of features and customization options to explore. While the software is user-friendly and intuitive to some extent, some of its features may not be immediately apparent to new users. The following are some practical tips to help you get started and make the most of your experience with Darktable on Ubuntu Linux.

Understand the Darktable Interface on Ubuntu

The first step to mastering Darktable is to understand its interface. It’s organized into four main views: Lighttable, Darkroom, Other, and Tethering. Each of these views serves a different purpose in your workflow:

  • Lighttable view is where you can manage your digital negatives, sort images, and export your work.
  • Darkroom view is for processing a single image.
  • Other view comprises the Map, Slideshow, and Print views.
  • Tethering view is for shooting directly into Darktable with a connected camera.

By understanding the purpose of each view, you’ll be able to navigate the software more effectively and utilize it to its full potential.

Customize Your Workspace with Darkable on Ubuntu

Darktable offers an array of customization options to make your workspace more conducive to your specific needs. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Navigate to the Preferences dialog (found in the top menu under Settings).
  2. Use the tabs to explore different customization options such as Core Options, Processing, GUI Options, and more.

For example, in the Core Options tab, you can customize the “quality” setting which balances speed and quality of display during interactive editing.

Use Keyboard Shortcuts with Darkable on Ubuntu

Keyboard shortcuts can significantly speed up your workflow in Darktable. Some common shortcuts include:

  • F1-F5: These keys switch between different views in Darktable.
  • Ctrl+C and Ctrl+V: These shortcuts copy and paste the history stack from one image to another.
  • Ctrl+Z: This key is for undoing an operation.
  • Ctrl+Y: This key is for redoing an operation.

Remember, the more familiar you become with these shortcuts, the more fluid your editing process will be.

Understand the Basic Modules with Darkable on Ubuntu

Darktable has several processing modules. Some of the essential ones you should familiarize yourself with are:

  • Base Curve: This module applies a tone curve to an image to imitate the tonal representation of the image in the camera.
  • White Balance: This is for adjusting the color balance in an image.
  • Exposure: This allows you to adjust the exposure of an image.
  • Crop and Rotate: This module is used to crop, rotate, and correct perspective in an image.

Understanding these modules will help you carry out basic image editing tasks.

Remember, Darktable is a sophisticated software, and understanding its ins and outs might take some time. Feel free to explore more about its functionalities and don’t hesitate to seek help from the Darktable community if needed.

Screenshot of the default user interface of Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.Pin
Experience the default user interface of Darktable upon its first launch on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.

Managing Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

After successfully installing Darktable and beginning your exploration of its vast array of features, it’s crucial to also understand how to manage the software on your Ubuntu Linux system. This section will guide you through the processes of updating and uninstalling Darktable, ensuring that you’re always working with the most recent and suitable version of the software.

Update Darktable on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Keeping software up-to-date is a best practice in the tech realm. Updates often provide new features, improved functionality, bug fixes, and security enhancements. In the case of Darktable, the update process is determined by the method you initially used to install the software.

APT Darktable Update Command on Ubuntu:

If you installed Darktable using the Advanced Package Tool (APT), you can update it using the following commands:

sudo apt upgrade
sudo apt upgrade

These commands instruct your system to refresh the package lists, ensuring you’re informed of the latest software versions, and then to upgrade all updatable software, including Darktable.

Flatpak Darktable Update Command on Ubuntu:

If your installation of Darktable was accomplished via Flatpak, the update process is slightly different. Use the following command to update Darktable:

flatpak update

This command checks for updates in all installed Flatpak apps and runtime and updates them as necessary.

Snap Darktable Update Command on Ubuntu:

Lastly, Snap installations on Ubuntu have good support for updating its applications, but to check for the latest updates, it’s advised to run the following command:

snap refresh

Remove Darktable from Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

If, for any reason, you wish to uninstall Darktable from your Ubuntu Linux system, the process is straightforward and varies based on your installation method.

APT Darktable Remove Command on Ubuntu:

To remove Darktable that was installed using the APT, you can use the following command:

sudo apt remove darktable

This command will uninstall the Darktable application from your Ubuntu Linux system but leaves behind user data and configuration files.

Flatpak Darktable Remove Command on Ubuntu:

For Darktable installed through Flatpak, you would employ a different command to remove the software:

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

This command removes Darktable and also erases user data related to the application.

Snap Darktable Remove Command on Ubuntu:

To remove the installation of Darktable with Snap, run the following command:

sudo snap remove darktable

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, Darktable stands as a robust and versatile open-source photography application, providing a comprehensive suite of tools for processing RAW files. Installing it on Ubuntu Linux offers several methods catering to varying user preferences, whether it be via APT, Snap, or Flatpak. Each approach has its unique benefits, yet they all lead to the same end— having Darktable effectively running on your system. It is recommended that users choose the installation method that aligns best with their comfort level and system requirements. The subsequent steps for managing, updating, and, if necessary, uninstalling Darktable are equally straightforward, empowering users with control over their software environment.

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