8.3. Installing New Plugins

The plugins that are distributed with Gimp don't require any special installation. Plugins that you download yourself do. There are several scenarios, depending on what OS you are using and how the plugin is structured. In Linux it is usually pretty easy to install a new plugin; in Windows, it is either easy or very hard. In any case, the two are best considered separately.


Most plugins fall into two categories: small ones whose source code is distributed as a single .c file, and larger ones whose source code is distributed as a directory containing multiple files including a Makefile.

For a simple one-file plugin, call it borker.c, installing it is just a matter of running the command gimptool-2.0 --install borker.c. This command compiles the plugin and installs it in your personal plugin directory, ~/gimp-2.0/plugins unless you have changed it. This will cause it to be loaded automatically the next time you start Gimp. You don't need to be root to do these things; in fact, you shouldn't be. If the plugin fails to compile, well, be creative.

Once you have installed the plugin, how do you activate it? The menu path is determined by the plugin itself, so to answer this you need to either look at the documentation for the plugin (if there is any), or launch the Plugin Description dialog (from Xtns/Plugins Details) search the plug-in by its name and look ot the Tree view tab. If you still don't find, finally explore the menus or look at the source code in the Register section -- whichever is easiest.

For more complex plugins, organized as a directory with multiple files, there ought to be a file inside called either INSTALL or README, with instructions. If not, the best advice is to toss the plugin in the trash and spend your time on something else: any code written with so little concern for the user is likely to be frustrating in myriad ways.

Some plugins (specifically those based on the Gimp Plugin Template) are designed to be installed in the main system Gimp directory, rather than your home directory. For these, you will need to be root to perform the final stage of installation ("make install").

If you install in your personal plugin directory a plugin that has the same name as one in the system plugin directory, only one can be loaded, and it will be the one in your home directory. You will receive messages telling you this each time you start Gimp. This is probably a situation best avoided.


Windows is a much more problematic environment for building software than Linux. Every decent Linux distribution comes fully supplied with tools for compiling software, and they are all very similar in the way they work, but Windows does not come with such tools. It is possible to set up a good software-building environment in Windows, but it requires either a substantial amount of money or a substantial amount of effort and knowledge.

Windows est un environnement plus problèmatique que Linux pour la construction de logiciels. Toute distribution décente de Linux vient avec tous les outils nécessaires à la compilation de logiciels, et ils ont tous un mode de fonctionnement similaire, mais Windows n'offre pas de tels outils. Il est possible de configurer un bon environnement de développement sous Windows, mais cela nécessite une bonne quantité d'argent ou de connaissances et d'efforts.

What this means in relation to Gimp plugins is the following: either you have an environment in which you can build software, or you don't. If you don't, then your best hope is to find a precompiled version of the plugin somewhere (or persuade somebody to compile it for you), in which case you simply need to put it into your personal plugin directory. If you do have an environment in which you can build software (which for present purposes means an environment in which you can build Gimp), then you no doubt already know quite a bit about these things, and just need to follow the Linux instructions.

If you would like to set up a build environment, and are ready for the heroism involved, you can find a reasonably recent description of how to go about it in the Gimp Wiki, at HowToCompileGimp/MicrosoftWindows . Since it is a Wiki, anybody is free to edit it, so please keep it up to date by adding advice based on your own experiences.


We could use some material here.