Color Management On Linux

Pascal de Bruijn wrote an extensive article about color management on Linux systems, covering basic explanations as well as the description of some tools.

There seems to be a lot of confusion about what color management is, what it is supposed to do, and most particularly how to use it on Linux.

Find the article here:

9 thoughts on “Color Management On Linux

  1. In the article, you said: “dual head setups can complicate things”.
    I’m not sure what you mean by ‘dual head’; does it refer to dual screen? could you elaborate a bit?


    • Hi Marie-Noëlle,

      yes, he is talking about two screens attached to one pc. Since both screens need different ICC profiles it does not seem to be that easy.

    • Currently it’s not possible to properly color manage a dual-head setup on Linux without a ton of grief.

      If you need accurate color you are currently effectively limited to a single screen setup.

      Work is being done to resolve the issues at hand, but the issues are complicated, so it’ll probably take a year or so before these changes make it into mainstream distributions.

  2. I’m precisely in that case, as I use a laptop with an additional 23″ screen.
    Both screens are characterized.
    What should we need to know, in addition to what has already been written?

  3. How easy is to setup Darktable to get reliable output (in particular vis-a-vis color) on desktop printers (in my case, an Epson R2880)?

    The one thing that has kept me from ditching my Mac for Linux is this, so just wondering where things stand now.

    • Just bumping this question, as I’m still wondering (and the Darktable book, for example, doesn’t say a word about printing).

    • Darktable currently does not support any printing at all.

      I did this post in the past with some suggestions on how to deal with this (but it’s a bit outdated now):

      However, the latest distro’s with GNOME (And Unity), have GNOME Color Manager and colord, which has been integrated with CUPS (print system), so when properly configured output sent to a printer will automatically be processed with a specified output profile.

      Using Argyll and a spectrophotometer you can generate your own ICC profiles, which have gotten me decent results.

      However, if I’m not mistaken you are currently limited to RGB profiles.

  4. In deed: CMYK (and lack of it) is THE only one that keeping me from switching to Linux.
    Scribus is great, but I need editing or layer support in tools like GIMP and Darktable. As always, the problem is CMYK 100% black…

  5. Just a quick update for those that have more than one monitor: If you are using colord or oyranos and have assigned a color profile to each of your screens, darktable should be able to autodetect them. At least the current development version from git.