Not just a Microsoft Explorer knockoff, Photodex's CompuPic promises to provide a graphical solution to your Linux file management problems.

Review Compupic Shot1
Point & Pic: CompuPic’s friendly GUI.

Photodex, Inc.’s CompuPic 4.6 Beta

Free for non-commercial use

Commercial product will be $39.95


Probably the easiest shot the rest of the computing world can take at Linux is to cite all the thousands of GUI-based applications that just don’t have a Linux equivalent. Well, thanks to a small Austin, TX company there’s one less arrow for the naysayer’s quiver: file managers.

For the past few months, CompuPic has been creeping into the world of file and media management on Linux. CompuPic is developed by Photodex, Inc., which has been doing digital content management software for 13 years now. And from a look at their product, they really know their stuff.

Windows users take it for granted, but if you’re using a graphical user interface (GUI), you end up spending a lot of time browsing through the plethora of files that clutter up your computer. With Windows, this usually winds up being a fairly decent user experience. The GUI has long been the dominant interface on these platforms and users have come to expect mature and sophisticated tools. Not so with Linux, where the pickings are plentiful but somewhat slim (see On the Desktop, pg. 48, for more on Linux file managers -Ed.) Sure, there’s the K File Manager (KFM) and Midnight Commander. But neither of these is quite as advanced as the average PC user’s fare.

That’s where CompuPic comes in. CompuPic makes graphical file browsing as quick, efficient, and intuitive as it ought to be. This product obviously wasn’t designed for the command-centric Linux power user, but it makes Linux a lot more attractive to the typical Windows user. CompuPic is more than just another Microsoft Explorer look-alike for Linux. If you’re browsing a directory with images, it will give you thumbnails of almost any image type (JPEGs, GIFs, bitmaps) with blazing speed.

You can also use CompuPic for some of the more common image editing chores, which spares you the hassle of launching another more complicated application if you need to do something simple like reducing the red eye effect, cropping, resizing, rotating, flipping, or tweaking attributes such as brightness and contrast. You can even pick an image up off a scanner — the list goes on and on. One of its more amusing features lets you add text or thought bubbles to images. Photodex’ software also does a wealth of different conversions.

In a Nutshell

Rating:Four Penguin


* Lightning fast thumbnailing and indexing

* Performs most common image editing tasks


* Lacks the seamless feel of file managers that ship with popular desktops

The beta code I downloaded appeared to be well integrated with the Internet. You can use it to e-mail images to friends or co-workers, or to upload images to PhotoLoft.com (similar to Kodak’s PhotoNet) for free. Photodex says it is planning to add an FTP browsing feature that would not only let you browse FTP sites as you would local system folders, but it would also let you keep them in your directory tree.

One nice thing about the software is that it’s been optimized to run remotely over a network. So if you’re an IS Manager who has breathed new life into some old 486 CPUs by installing a no-frills version of Linux and X Windows, you’ll be able to add CompuPic to your application server and run a very sophisticated file manager on those old PCs.

The only criticism I have of this product is that it doesn’t quite give you a seamless feel with any desktop environment, or allow you to launch applications associated with certain file types. It doesn’t do things like automatically launch a Web browser when you click on an HTML file, for example. Photodex says they should have this functionality soon.

About a metric ton of graphical applications have surfaced for Linux over the past two years, but few have been as polished and well designed as CompuPic. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, visit http://linux.compupic.com/.

Justin Ryan works for TurboLinux and writes when he can. He can be reached at justin@computers.iwz.com.

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