Thank you openSuse

openSUSE logoWe would like to thank openSUSE for their generous donation to our Free and Open Source IT Tools drop-in. Last week openSUSE, a popular GNU/Linux-based project and distribution, sent us 100 USB flash drives. We will put free software on the flash drives for people to take away to use on their own computers.

There are tools to use for design, photo and video editing, word-processing, spreadsheets, learning, and much more. For anything you want to do with your computer, there is a free and open source application. On the flash drives, we can give you a complete system to try out with no commitment.

To get some great free tools to use at home or at work, come to the Drop-in at Redbridge Library. It is on the first Friday of every month, 1–3pm. Or contact us —  we would love to hear from you.



Speaking at WordCamp London

WordPress logoOn Sunday 22 March, I am speaking at WordCamp London 2015. The talk is called Your Free GPL Toolbox. Last week, I was interviewed by one of the sponsors Read the interview here to find out more.

WordCamp London is shaping up to be a fun-packed weekend. Tickets are still available.

Photo print size, image resolution: GIMP

Portrait photograph of a jaguar.This beautiful jaguar is one of many heart-warming photos taken by Scott Liddell. It is saved here with width and height pixel dimensions to fit the space on this web page.

But what size can I print my original copy of the photograph and retain its quality?

When you are printing a picture, the important thing to consider is image resolution. Image resolution consists of two elements: the number of pixels in a square inch and the size of those pixels.

You only need to think about the number of pixels per inch. (Your computer will take care of calculating the size of the pixels.) Image resolution is measured in ppi (pixels per inch).

Printed photo sizes are traditionally measured in inches (e.g. 8 x 10 inches, 4 x 6 inches). You may find it more relevant to measure your printed image in millimetres (mm) or centimetres (cm). It does not matter which unit you use to measure your picture’s width and height. Just choose the one that is right for you. Whichever measurement unit you work in, you will still use ppi (pixels per inch) for the image resolution.

You can use GIMP to see what size you can print a picture without spoiling its sharpness and quality.

Good practice note: always copy your image first and work on the copy.

1. Open your photo and select print size

  • In GIMP: File –> Open
  • From your File Browser: Right click –> Open With –> GIMP Image Editor


  • Menu: Image –> Print Size…

Screenshot shows selecting image print size from menu.

2. Print size dialogue box

  • A box with the title “Set Image Print Resolution” will open.
  • It has “Width and Height” options and “X resolution and Y resolution” options.
  • Make sure the lock symbol next to the X and Y resolutions is closed or locked. You can click on the lock symbol to toggle between locked and unlocked. Keeping the lock closed will ensure the X and Y resolutions are the same.
  • Make sure the measurement next to the X and Y resolutions is pixels/in.

Screenshot shows width and height, X and Y resolutions, lock resolutions, and resolution unit measurement pixels/in.

3. X and Y resolutions

  • The X resolution is the number of pixels per inch (ppi) going horizontally.
  • The Y resolution is the number of pixels per inch (ppi) going vertically.

In some image software these values are set with a single number. In GIMP you just need to make sure you have the same number for both resolutions.

Keeping the lock symbol next to the X and Y resolutions closed, will keep your image in proportion.

4. Choosing a resolution for print

The print quality you can get from any image depends on a number of factors. These include the type of printer, paper, and ink or toner, you are using. You will get one level of quality when printing on your printer at home or in the office. You will get a different level of quality if you send your printing to a printing shop.

There comes a point where increasing the ppi (pixels per inch) is not going to raise your print quality. This is because you have reached the limits of the other elements that affect the quality of your print. Printing and quality is all about balancing these elements with your budget and requirements.

Another thing to consider is how your printing is going to be used. A large print viewed from a distance, such as on a hoarding or billboard, needs a lower resolution. A fine art print seen close up needs a higher resolution.

A final consideration is the lower the image resolution, the less ink or toner you will use when printing.

5. Print resolution recommended ppi

The industry standard is 300 ppi (pixels per inch). If you set your printing resolution to 300 ppi you can be sure your print will be sharp. This is a generous calculation. In reality, you can usually reduce to 240 ppi and still see no loss of quality when you print your picture. If you have no reason to reduce your image resolution, stick with 300 ppi to be safe.

When printing on a local inkjet printer, at home or in the office, you can use a lower ppi. Professional printing shops often state the minimum ppi they require to be lower than 300 ppi.

At 180 ppi you will probably notice a loss of quality, but the quality may still be acceptable to you. With less than 180 ppi, the print quality will be low.

The fact that you can reduce the ppi to below 300 ppi is reassuring. Perhaps you want to print a photo in an A4 size, but at that size the resolution is 240 ppi. It is good to know you can probably still get a good quality print from it.

You just need to remember that as the ppi becomes lower, the chance of a fuzzy print increases. To limit that risk, when quality is important, use the professional standard of 300 ppi.

6. Setting the ppi and to see the print size in GIMP

  • Make sure the lock next to the X and Y resolutions is closed. Make sure the X and Y resolution measurement is set to pixels/inch. (See Step 2 above.)
  • Use the arrows or type in the box for the X resolution to set it to 300 ppi.
  • Press enter on your keyboard or click in the Y resolution box. The Y resolution will jump to match the X resolution.
  • The width and height measurements will adjust to show the size you can print at 300 ppi.

Screenshot shows setting the X resolution to 300 pixels/in with the X and Y resolutions locked.

You can change the units of measurement your print size is shown in. Use the measurement option next to the width and height boxes. The figures will change to show the print size in your preferred unit of measurement (mm, cm, inches).

 7. Setting the print size to see the resolution in GIMP

If you know the size you want to print your picture, you can see if the resolution will be acceptable.

  • Make sure the lock next to the X and Y resolutions is closed.
  • Choose the unit you want to measure in. (See the end of Step 6.)
  • Set either the width or height by using the arrow keys or typing in the box.
  • The other dimension will change, keeping your picture in proportion, when you press enter or click in the other box.
  • The X and Y resolutions will adjust to show the image resolution if you print at that size.

Screenshot shows setting the image width, in inches, with the image resolutions locked to keep the image in proportion.

Do remember that the width and height measurements, here, are your maximum print sizes at the set resolution. If you save your image, and your printer settings are set at 100%, your image will print at these sizes. But you can scale your image to make it print smaller. You can also lower the resolution. Reducing the width and height of a photo is never a problem. Increasing these dimensions can be. This is why it is recommended to save a master copy of your pictures at their full pixel dimensions.

8. Save and finish

  • When you are happy with your choices, click OK in the “Set Image Print Resolution” box.

Screenshot shows accepting the chosen settings in the print size dialogue box.

  • If you need to change the width and height proportions of your picture, you will need to crop it. See our post Crop a photo with GIMP.
  • Save your image.
  • Menu: File –> Save AND/OR File –> Export
  • Keyboard shortcut: CTRL + S AND/OR CTRL + E

About GIMP

GIMP logo featuring Wilber, the GIMP mascot, as a wizard.GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is similar to Photoshop. We offer graphic design services for print and the web. We also provide training and support. For all your design wizardry contact us here or visit our main website.

Colophon for our GIMP posts: magic wand with stars on a purple-gradient background.

Word Count, Character Count: LibreOffice Writer

Sometimes you need to write to a specific word or character limit. LibreOffice Writer’s Word Count can help.

Opening Word Count

  • Menu: Tools –> Word Count
  • Keyboard shortcut: ALT + T then ALT + W

Screenshot shows opening the Word Count tool in LibreOfficer Writer.

This will display the Word Count dialogue box. It shows the counts for the Current selection and the Whole document.

Screenshot shows the text count for the current selection and for the whole document.

Using Word Count

To count the current selection, highlight the section of the document you want to count. Highlighting part of a word includes that word in the count.

Screenshot shows how Word Count counts hightlighted text.

If you keep Word Count open, it will count in real time as you type.

Screenshot shows Word Count counting, in real time as you type, when you keep it open.

Counting Words

Any string of characters between two spaces counts as a word. Words are also defined by tabs, line breaks and paragraph breaks. A hyphenated word counts as one word. For example, the following text counts as five words: real-time data, “??!*” and/or

Counting Characters

Useful for refining tweets on Twitter and writing text for Google AdWords, Word Count’s Characters count includes spaces. You may find Characters excluding spaces useful to calculate costs if you do translation work. Both types of count are there, as standard, in Writer’s Word Count.

About Writer

Icon for LibreOffice Writer.

LibreOffice Writer is a professional alternative to Microsoft Word. We offer a full range of writing and editing services. We also provide training and support to migrate from Microsoft Office to LibreOffice. Contact us or visit our main website.

Colophon for our LibreOffice Writer posts: boat on a sea of words quoted from "Notes on the Art of Poetry" an essay by Dylan Thomas.

Crop a photo with GIMP

How to crop a photo or image using GIMP. This is how to do a simple crop. It uses the Crop Tool.

Good practice note: always copy your image first and work on the copy.

1. Open your photo

  • In GIMP: File –> Open
  • From your File Browser: Right click –> Open With –> GIMP Image Editor

Screenshot shows opening a document using GIMP photo editing software.

2. Choose the Crop Tool

  • Click on the Crop Tool in the Toolbox. It looks like a scalpel.
  • If it’s hard to find, hover over the icons to show the yellow tool tips.
  • You can also select the Crop Tool by clicking SHIFT + C.

Screenshot shows selecting the crop tool for photo editing.

3. Select the area to keep

  • Hold the left mouse button and drag to select the area you want to keep.
  • Highlight is selected by default. This makes the area you will keep bright and dulls the part of the picture that will be cropped.

Screenshot shows Highlight option in the cropping dialogue toolbox.

4. Changing the size of your selection

  • Click and drag on the sides to change the size of your selection.
  • And/Or click and drag at the top and bottom.
  • And/Or click and drag at the corners.

Screenshot shows adjusting the size of cropping area.

5. Using the cursor or mouse pointer

  • Look at the mouse pointer as you hover over the drag lines.
  • It will change to show what GIMP will do if you start dragging in that position.
  • (This does not show in these screenshots.)

Screenshot shows changing height and width of cropped area.

6. Using Size in the Crop dialogue box

  • Look at Size in the Crop dialogue box as you drag the drag handles on the drag lines.
  • The numbers change as you drag. You can change the measurement units that show the size.
  • You can adjust the size precisely by typing in the size boxes or by using the arrows.

Screenshot shows Size options, in pixels, in the cropping dialogue box.

7. Changing the Position of your selection

  • Hover on the bright part of the picture. The mouse pointer will change to a diamond shape.
  • Click and hold the left mouse button to move your selection over other areas of the picture.
  • In the Crop dialogue box Position works in the same way as Size.

Screenshot shows moving the postion of the part of the picture to crop.

8. Making the Crop

  • When you are happy with your selection. EITHER:
  • Double-click on the bright part of the picture (your selection) OR
  • Press Enter or Return on your keyboard.

Screenshot shows final edit selection for area being cropped.

9. Save and finish

  • Save your cropped photo or image.
  • Menu: File –> Save
  • Keyboard shortcut: CTRL + S

Screenshot shows completed cropped photograph of a tiger ready to save.

About GIMP

GIMP logo featuring Wilber, the GIMP mascot, as a wizard.GIMP is the GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is similar to Photoshop. We offer graphic design services for print and the web. We also provide training and support. For all your design wizardry contact us here or visit our main website.

Colophon for our GIMP posts: magic wand with stars on a purple-gradient background.

Why Linux Mint?

We’ve been running our Open Options sessions at Redbridge Central Library, in Ilford, for a few months now. I think it’s good time to revisit our early decisions.

We chose Linux Mint because, out of the box, it has a relatively close feel to Microsoft Windows. That gives it a familiarity for new users.

Although we have our custom-built operating system, running on the servers we supply, we work with many other systems. My personal desktop of choice, in the office and at home, is Linux Mint. This means I can provide support that is rooted in my everyday practical user experience.

Linux Mint is the 4th most widely used home operating system and is based on the 3rd most widely used. A result of its popularity is that there is a lot of online help, support and a strong user community.

What is Linux Mint?

Linux Mint is a packaged distribution. It comes with an operating system, a set of software applications, and access to add (many) more applications. When it’s installed it looks like this:

Screenshot of the Linux Mint desktop.

And with the menu open, it looks like this:

Screenshot of the Linux Mint desktop with open menu.

Operating System (OS)

Linux Mint is built on the GNU/Linux operating system. I’m planning to write a post about what GNU is and what Linux is … sometime soon. I’ll come back here and link to that post for people who’d like to know a little more. To keep things simple, GNU/Linux is equivalent to Windows 8 (Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP) or Mac OSX. You can install Linux Mint on a PC and on a Mac.

Applications (software)

When you install Linux Mint it comes with a set of applications. This is the same as buying a Windows or Mac operating system and an office suite. The office suite that comes with Linux Mint is called LibreOffice. It includes six programs: word processor, spreadsheet, presentation, drawing, database, and maths. Linux Mint also comes with a range of other applications including: web browser, media player, graphic design, and email.

Software Manager

The Software Manager is an integral part of Linux Mint. It is the main — but not the only — way of adding and removing software applications. You will find a link to it in the main Linux Mint menu. The icon is a yellow star and when you open it, it looks like this:

Screenshot of the Linux Mint Software Manager.

It links to an online repository of about 62,500 software packages. All the software in the Software Manager is free of charge. It is all licensed for commercial and non-commercial use.

More about Linux Mint

If you are local, come and try Linux Mint at one of our drop-ins. Our Open Options sessions run on the first Friday of every month in east London. They are open to all and you don’t need to book. See the side panel for more information. Visit the Linux Mint main website (opens in a new window or tab).