Friday, January 04, 2013

digiKam installation and configuration - Part 1

In the post About picture correction and work optimization we have made a decision to use digiKam to correct thousands of scanned pictures as effectively as possible. But before we can start using digiKam, we need to install it and configure some settings. Since we have quite some work to do I have split it into several parts:
  • In this post we talk about digiKam installation, then we install VMware Player and Ubuntu Linux on Windows and configure Ubuntu regional settings.
  • In Part 2 we install digiKam and talk some more about VMware Player and Ubuntu Linux.
  • In Part 3 we copy pictures from Windows to Ubuntu VM and exercise some Ubuntu desktop tweaking.
  • In Part 4 we configure some of digiKam's settings and picture editor keyboard shortcuts.

About digiKam installation

DigiKam is written for Linux and most of the time it is best to use any program in its natural environment. If you are already using Linux, you are lucky, because installation packages are available for all major distributions. And as usual in Linux world source code is also available to download and compile, if you want the latest version and if you are brave enough.

Mac users are advised to use MacPorts project, but I can’t comment on that, because I have not tried it. Windows installer is also available, but “Be careful as digiKam is not as stable under Windows as under Linux because of some bugs in the underlying KDE SC libraries that digiKam depends on” (quote from digiKam’s site). I have tried it and I can confirm it crashes from time to time without any obvious reason, which is disturbing.

Therefore I strongly suggest Windows users to use native Linux digiKam in virtualized Linux on their Windows. It is not as complicated as it sounds. Here are step by step instructions (all buttoncommand or keyboard key names in the following text are marked this way).

How to install VMware Player and Ubuntu Linux on Windows

Download the free VMware Player from here, choose the first file (at the time of this writing “VMware-player-5.0.1-894247.exe”) and install it using all default options.

Download the free Ubuntu 12.04 LTS iso image from here (if download does not start automatically click “download now” at the top of the page). The file (at the time of this writing “ubuntu-12.04.1-desktop-i386.iso”) has size a little over 700 MB so it might take several minutes to download.

Now start the VMware Player. Click button Create a New Virtual Machine on the starting page, select Installer disk image (iso), browse to the folder where you saved the iso image file and open it. Click Next and choose your new login credentials: display name, username and password. Write it down or remember it, because you will need it all the time to login into the new virtual machine. Click Next several more times leaving all other options unchanged; default values are OK and they can all be changed later if necessary. After installation starts you have enough time to go and prepare yourself a cup of coffee or a mug of tee or open a can of beer or pour a glass of wine; whatever suits you best, in that matter I am extremely democratic :)

After 10 or 15 minutes your brand new Linux virtual machine (from now on, I will call it VM) should be ready including the automatic installation of VMware Tools. If you do not know why you need VMware Tools do not bother, just believe me it is a must have in a VMware virtual machine and it is not trivial to install manually. Login screen is waiting for you, so go ahead and enter the password. The screen will be probably too small, but you can resize the windows as any other Windows program or change it to Windows full screen. You can also use the VMware Player’s full screen mode button in the top bar to completely hide the underlying Windows screen. In that case I also advise to unpin VMware Player’s top bar, because it possibly gets in the way of menus inside the VM.

On the left side inside the VM you will see the Launcher (a vertical toolbar of program icons) which belongs to the new Ubuntu’s Unity “it looks almost like a Mac” user interface. One of the icons is the Update Manager probably asking you to install the updates, just ignore that for now. Many Linux users think that Unity sucks, but many others like it. I suggest you give it a try, look here for a good startup tutorial. We will only need it to install and start digiKam anyway and it is more than good enough for that. But if you decide you want to join the “Unity sucks” community, see “Ubuntu desktop tweaking” in Part 3 before giving up.

screen by screen guide how to install VMware Player and Ubuntu Linux on Windows

Ubuntu regional setttings

If you are satisfied with English/US keyboard and regional settings and the clock shows correct time (meaning you probably live in Los Angeles or near by) you can skip the rest of this paragraph. If you live in the rest of the world like me open System Settings (it should be more at the bottom of Launcher icons). First click Time&Date, select the correct time zone and click All Settings to return; clock in the top right corner should now display the correct time. Next click Language Support, click Install / Remove Languages and add your language; you will be asked for password, type it and Authenticate. Now you could change the Language for menus and windows, although I prefer to keep that in English. But you should choose Regional Formats tab and select your language to have numbers, dates and currency displayed in the format you are used to. To see examples, you will have to close and reopen Language Support tool. Finally click Keyboard Layout, click the + button in the lower left corner and add your language. Then select English (US) and click the v button to push it down; your language should be on the top.

screen by screen guide how to  configure regional settings on Ubuntu 12.04

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