With PSPI, PhotoShop Plug-Ins Running in Linux GIMP

PSPI is a GIMP plug-in that runs 3rd-party Photoshop plug-in filters. It has been written in 2001, and it initially worked on Windows only. Then nothing much happened until now when it became available also on Linux. All that was needed, basically, was for somebody to try building it using winegcc. Possibly building and running it on Linux might have worked already years ago, but nobody tried... But someone has tried it on Linux and reporting the success!

Where to find Photoshop plug-in filters that are any good?

Google is your friend. You will find time-limited or functionally limited demo versions of commercial filters, and "freeware" filters. A lot of the 3rd-party filters that you can find on the net are mostly crap, though, and don't do anything particularily exciting that one couldn't do with GIMP already.

There are some exceptions though. I think that for instance many filters from Flaming Pear or Alien Skin are highly regarded. You can find time-limited demo versions, and some giveaway fully functional ones from their site.

Or, some computer and graphic magazines that come with "cover" CD-ROMs, like Computer Arts, PhotoShop User or Photoshop Creative often include free and commercial Photoshop filters on the CD-ROMs. They might for instance be slightly older versions than those that you need to pay full price for.

Photoshop plug-in filters (for the Windows version of Photoshop, which is what we are talking about here) are actually Windows DLLs, which are dynamically loaded into the plug-in host process's address space. They are files with the extension .8bf, though, not .dll. (GIMP plug-ins, on the other hand, are separate processes.)

Unlike GIMP plug-ins, 3rd-party Photoshop plug-ins don't use any common user interface library. (GIMP plug-ins use GTK+, obviously.) This is because 3rd-party Photoshop plug-ins are usually available both for the Windows and Macintosh versions of Photoshop. Typically each company uses some homegrown widget library, with a look and feel that is widely different than the normal Windows common control look and feel, or the GTK+ look and feel.

The Linux packages include three files:

README.linux, pspi (a small shell script), and pspi.exe.so (the binary that wine runs)

Copy pspi and pspi.exe.so to your personal GIMP plug-ins folder, typically ~/.gimp-2.2/plug-ins

When you run GIMP it will issue a warning "wire_read(): error" as pspi.exe.so can't be started directly. (The pspi script can, though, and is from GIMP's point of view a GIMP plug-in.) This warning is harmless (GIMP just ignores that file then), but if you want to avoid it, move pspi.exe.so somewhere else and modify the pspi script to point to its new location instead.

After starting GIMP, go to the Xtns:Photoshop Plug-in Settings and enter the folder where you are going to keep the 3rd-party Photoshop plug-ins (.8bf files) that you want to use in GIMP.

Preferrably you should use an initially empty folder for this, and then install (copy) Photoshop plug-ins there one by one, verifying that each works. It isn't really useful to rush and install a shitload of Photoshop plug-ins at once and assume they all will work under pspi.

You can download PSPI for Linux distro you use below:

For SUSE Linux, gimp-pspi-1.0.5.suse10.i386.tar.gz
For Ubuntu, gimp-pspi-1.0.5.ubuntu.i386.tar.gz
For Fedora, gimp-pspi-1.0.5-1.cru.i386.rpm


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