Sunday, December 30, 2007

GIMP: Help Files And Defeating Font Errors

Here's something I hope will be of interest to those installing the portable version of GIMP, the open source image editor that "competes" with Photoshop. It might also help those that have GIMP crash with an error reading fonts on start-up.

My problem was that I could not get GIMP to run on my six-year-old install of Windows SP1. I tried the current version 2.4.2 and the previous stable 2.2.17 with the same result. The thread at GIMP Talk helped not at all. I went through each of my 600 or so fonts and deleted any that might have caused a problem (but how do you really know a problem font anyway?). I tried looking for any cache files that might be persisting an error. No dice.

Then for some reason I thought of trying GIMP Portable, the version optimised for running without touching the operating system. This worked just fine! I am not sure why, but I'll accept a mysterious victory.

The next problem was documentation. GIMP does not come with help files by default, since these are larger than the programme itself. Of course you can use online help, but I find context-sensitive instructions that do not require an internet connection to be even handier. Help files are provided in several languages but don't bother downloading them if you've installed GIMP Portable; the installer looks for a registry key that does not exist and so will not proceed. And there seems to be no download without an installer.

One way around this is to use the Universal Extractor to get the info out of the help EXE, but this fails since it does not work with the correct version of the programme used to compress the files. Back to square one.

The only thing to do is to install the version of GIMP that does not work, install the help files, copy them from their location to somewhere safe, uninstall both packages and then install GIMP Portable. Then it is simply a matter of copying the help files to the correct place.

I have made this easier for you by putting the complete compressed English help files on my FreeDrive account. Grab it from here and unzip to the location GIMP requires. (The easiest way to find this path is to try help from within GIMP and take note of the error message.)

The Zip file is 16.4MB large so after fifty or so downloads my bandwidth will be exhausted for the month. So please don't get it unless you need it. If you do might I suggest a small donation? I can put this towards a better bandwidth solution.

I am looking into using the Amazon S3 technology and am interested in access services build on top of S3 that allow shared files, easy file maintenance and possibly even micro-payments. If you have suggestions to this end, let me know.

I might very well be writing more about S3 in the future.

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