The GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. The GIMP is an application suitable for such tasks as retouching of photographs, composing and authoring images. Its capabilities as an image manipulation program make it a worthy competitor to other similar programs such as Adobe Photoshop or Corel PhotoPaint.
The biggest advantage of The GIMP is it's free availability from a variety of sources including the Internet. The GIMP also comes bundled with most GNU/Linux distributions. There are even versions available for Microsoft Windows or Apple's Darwin(MacOSX). Even more importantly, it's not freeware. The GIMP is an OSS (Open Source Software) program covered by the GPL license , which gives the users the freedom to access and also to change the source code that makes up the program.
This is how and why The GIMP is constantly being developed and improved, not only by it's core developers, but by a large number of contributers and users.
Full suite of painting tools including brushes, a pencil, an airbrush, an ink tool, and cloning.
Tile-based memory management so image size is limited only by available disk space.
Sub-pixel sampling for all paint tools, allowing for high-quality anti-aliasing.
Full Alpha channel (transparency) support.
Layers and channels.
Advanced scripting capabilities provided by a procedural database such that internal GIMP functions can be accessed from external scripts, such as Script-Fu, Perl-Fu (Perl scripts) and Python-Fu (Python scripts).
Multiple undo and redo, limited only by disk space.
Transformation tools including rotate, scale, shear, and flip.
File formats supported include PostScript, JPEG, GIF, PNG, XPM, TIFF, TGA, MPEG, PCX, BMP and many others.
Selection tools including rectangular, elliptical, free, fuzzy, paths, and intelligent scissors.
A powerful plug-in system that allows for easy addition of new functions, file formats, effect filters, and more.
The GIMP is probably most known for its use on the GNU/Linux platform, but there are many platforms that The GIMP can run on. GIMP is known to work on GNU/Linux, Apple Darwin/MacOSX, Microsoft Windows 95, 98, NT4 and 2000, OpenBSD, NetBSD, FreeBSD, Solaris, SunOS, AIX, HP-UX, Tru64, Digital Unix, OSF/1, IRIX, OS/2, and BeOS.
Porting The GIMP to other platforms is possible only due to source code availability.
The GIMP help system provides the necessary information on using all of the functions that The GIMP offers. The GIMP help system is the hybrid of a quick reference and a book and endevours to assist users with all tasks in a fast and efficient manner.
The built-in GIMP help browser has three notebook tabs: the one that help pages are displayed in, the contents tab which shows a structured list of help items, and the index which shows an list of all chapters and keywords in the help system. The advantage of the built-in help browser is that navigation and display of the help files is easy and the help text is shown in the main tab. However, if prefered, Netscape Navigator can be chosen as the help browser from within the Preferences Dialog If The GIMP is being used with Microsoft Windows, the default Internet browser will be used which is usually either Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Internet Explorer.
In addition to the reference material the help system provides, the user should also be on the look out for tips, hints, configuration assistance, short cuts, and more.