Darktable is an open source, image workstation application for photographers on Linux. It has dozens of uses, including the ability to manage digital photo negatives in a user searchable database, a “zoomable” Lightroom and the ability to develop raw photos. Better yet, it’s entirely free of charge and compatible with even the most obscure of Linux distributions.
SPOILER ALERT: Scroll down and watch the video tutorial at the end of this article.
The app has a lot to offer and is competitive with a lot of paid offerings in the digital photography space. It is designed and made by photographers, so if you’re looking for a solid app to edit and manage photos on Linux, this is probably one of the best options to go with.
The Darktable application is available to Linux users via the Ubuntu Software Center, and the OS regularly distributes a fairly recent version of it in its software sources. However, if you’re a photographer who needs the latest features, you’re better off with using the official Darktable PPA to install Darkable. Going the PPA route is a good idea, as it gives you fresh updates as soon as they’re available.
To add the Darktable PPA, open up a terminal and use the add-apt-repository command in the terminal.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pmjdebruijn/darktable-release
The PPA is now a part of Ubuntu, but it’s not accessible yet. To ensure that it is accessible, you’ll need to run the update command.
sudo apt update
With everything up to date, be sure to install any software upgrades that show up.
sudo apt upgrade -y
Finally, when all software updates are installed on Ubuntu, it is safe to install Darktable:
sudo apt install darktable
Debian users will have no issue getting Darktable working. In fact, it’s available right from the official software sources. However, the version of Darktable that is available is severely out of date. To get the latest version of Darktable, we recommend enabling Debian Backports.
For those that don’t know: Debian Backports is a project that compiles newer Debian packages against older libraries in the Stable release branch. Using Backports on Debian allows users of the Stable branch (and Old Stable) to use new software. To enable Backports, follow our guide here. Once enabled, follow the instructions below to install the Debian Backport version of Darktable.
sudo apt-get -t stretch-backports install darktable
Arch Linux is what’s known as a “bleeding edge” Linux distribution. Bleeding edge means that it always has the absolute latest versions of software (bugs and all). Naturally, the OS has a very recent version of Darktable ready to install.
Getting the Darktable application on Arch doesn’t require any special repositories, thankfully. Just open up a terminal and use the Pacman package management tool to install it.
sudo pacman -S darktable
Fedora Linux has a fairly recent version of the Darktable photography software. Still, it’s not as recent as it could be. As a result, the Darktable website points to a third-party software repository that is available for the Fedora operating system.
As of now, there is a Darktable software repository for Fedora 27, 28 and Rawhide. To add it, open up a terminal and use paste the command that matches your version.
sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/graphics:darktable/Fedora_Rawhide/graphics:darktable.repo
sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/graphics:darktable/Fedora_28/graphics:darktable.repo
Fedora 27 sudo dnf config-manager --add-repo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/graphics:darktable/Fedora_27/graphics:darktable.repo
Run an update to be safe, then install Darktable.
sudo dnf update -y sudo dnf install darktable
OpenSUSE is a mixed bag when it comes to Darktable. Tumbleweed users have a fairly recent version. However, Leap users will only have access to an out of date version. Luckily, thanks to the OpenSUSE build service, getting a more up to date version of the app is simple.
Leap is a solid OS, but due to its focus on stability, Darktable is sort of out of date. To fix this, you’ll need to add the following software repository in a terminal:
sudo zypper addrepo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/graphics:darktable/openSUSE_Leap_15.0/graphics:darktable.repo
sudo zypper addrepo https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/graphics:darktable/openSUSE_Leap_42.3/graphics:darktable.repo
With the new repo working, run an update and then install Darktable.
sudo zypper update sudo zypper install darktable
sudo zypper install darktable
Generic Linux Instructions
Need a current version of the Darktable app but can’t find it on your Linux distribution? Consider building it from the source code!
Building Darktable from source starts out by installing all of the necessary dependencies. Open up a terminal and search for the items on the list below with your package manager.
Once all dependencies are installed, grab the Darktable code and build it with the commands below:
tar xvf darktable-2.4.4.tar.xz && cd darktable-2.4.4 ./build