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Create stunning graphics and edit images for free with GIMP

Do you need to touch up some photos? Maybe create some cool looking graphics? Or convert some images to different formats? You can do all of this and more for free with GIMP.

The GIMP 2.6.11 user interface
The GIMP 2.6.11 user interface

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) is a free open source image manipulation program. You can do simple tasks like rotating and cropping photos to creating graphics from scratch. You can even convert the format of files and save compressed versions with ZIP or GZ extensions.

A logo created with the one of the built-in scripts in GIMP
A logo created with one of the built-in scripts in GIMP

Some of the features I like are the effect filters and layers/channels. And the predefined scripts for buttons, logos, patterns, and web page themes are pretty cool. Also, GIMP runs on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. Here's a quote from the GIMP site:

GIMP is an acronym for GNU Image Manipulation Program. It is a freely distributed program for such tasks as photo retouching, image composition and image authoring.

It has many capabilities. It can be used as a simple paint program, an expert quality photo retouching program, an online batch processing system, a mass production image renderer, an image format converter, etc.

GIMP is expandable and extensible. It is designed to be augmented with plug-ins and extensions to do just about anything. The advanced scripting interface allows everything from the simplest task to the most complex image manipulation procedures to be easily scripted.

Customizable Interface
Each task requires a different environment and GIMP allows you to customize the view and behavior the way you like it. Starting from the widget theme, allowing you to change colors, widget spacings and icon sizes to custom tool sets in the toolbox. The interface is modulized into so called docks, allowing you to stack them into tabs or keep them open in their own window. Pressing the tab key will toggle them hidden.

GIMP features a great fullscreen mode allowing you to not only preview your artwork but also do editing work while using the most of your screen estate.

Photo Enhancement
Numerous digital photo imperfections can be easily compensated for using GIMP. Fix perspective distortion caused by lens tilt simply choosing the corrective mode in the transform tools. Eliminate lens' barrel distortion and vignetting with a powerful filter but a simple interface. The included channel mixer gives you the flexibility and power to get your B/W photography stand out the way you need.

Digital Retouching
GIMP is ideal for advanced photo retouching techniques. Get rid of unneeded details using the clone tool, or touch up minor details easily with the new healing tool. With the perspective clone tool, it's not difficult to clone objects with perspective in mind just as easily as with the orthogonal clone.

Hardware Support
GIMP includes a very unique support for various input devices out of the box. Pressure and tilt sensitive tablets, but also a wide range of USB or MIDI controllers. You can bind often-used actions to device events such as rotating a USB wheel or moving a MIDI controller's slider. Change the size, angle or opacity of a brush while you paint, bind your favorite scripts to buttons. Speed up your workflow!

File Formats
The file format support ranges from the common likes of JPEG (JFIF), GIF, PNG, TIFF to special use formats such as the multi-resolution and multi-color-depth Windows icon files. The architecture allows to extend GIMP's format capabilities with a plug-in. You can find some rare format support in the GIMP plugin registry.

Thanks to the transparent virtual file system, it is possible to load and save files to from remote locations using protocols such as FTP, HTTP or even SMB (MS Windows shares) and SFTP/SSH.

To save disk space, any format can be saved with an archive extension such as ZIP, GZ or BZ2 and GIMP will transparently compress the file without you needing to do any extra steps.

For more information on GIMP, follow the links below:

GIMP - The GNU Image Manipulation Program

GIMP - Introduction

Run another operating system on your Windows computer with Oracle VirtualBox

Updated November 6, 2022

Have you ever wanted to try another operating system but did not want to have to erase your drive to do it? Maybe you have an app that will not work on the latest version of Windows? If so, then Oracle VirtualBox may be just what you are looking for.

Three different versions of Windows running in VirtualBoxes
Windows 8.1, Windows 10, and Windows 11 running inside of VirtualBoxes

VirtualBox is a virtualization program that allows you to run an operating system (OS) in a Virtual Machine (VM) environment. VMs emulate the most common hardware found in modern computers, including Trusted Platform Module (TPM) ver. 1.2 and 2 (Windows 11 requires TPM v2).

One of my favorite things is to try out different operating systems, like other versions of Linux, including Android-x86 and WindowsFX. I have used VMs for many years now to do just that and have found VirtualBox to be the one I use the most often.

Another thing I use VMs for is running legacy software on older operating systems. I have several programs that will only run on Windows XP, so I have a dedicated Windows XP VM just for these programs.

And you can configure a VM so it appears as a separate computer on your network. You can even map shared network folders and print to network printers. You can even have multiple monitors too.

A Windows 11 virtual machine using dual monitors
Windows 11 with dual monitors running inside of a VirtualBox

Creating a new VM is relatively simple, give it a name, select the operating system being installed, and the location of the installation media. You will need to know what amount of memory and disk space the operating system you are installing requires.

When it comes to creating a VM for another OS, it is the same as if you were installing the OS on physical hardware. If the OS you are installing requires a product key, like Windows, you will need it. Usually, when it comes to Windows, you can only use retail product keys, not Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) product keys.

VirtualBox currently runs on Windows 8.1 through Windows 11, Windows Server 2012 through 2022, macOS 10.15 through 12, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS, 20.04 LTS and 22.04, Debian GNU/Linux 10 (Buster) and 11 (Bullseye), Oracle Linux 7, 8 and 9, CentOS/Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7, 8 and 9, Fedora 35 and 36, Gentoo Linux, SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12 and 15, openSUSE Leap 15.3 and Oracle Solaris 11.4.

With its flexibility in configuration, multiple monitor support, and support for 64-bit virtual machines (only on 64-bit host operating systems), it's my choice for VM. And did I mention that it's free? For more information on Oracle VirtualBox, follow the link below:

Oracle VirtualBox

Disable Windows hibernation and free up disk space

Updated October 6, 2022

If you're a hardcore computer user like me, your system runs 24/7 with no screen or power saver options (I turn off the monitors when not in use). I like to walk into my office and have it ready to go. So when I noticed that my version of Windows still had the Hiberfil.sys file and I do not use hibernation, it was time to remove this file and regain that drive space back (in my case, 16 GB).

The Hiberfil.sys is a hidden system file located in the drive's root folder where Windows is installed. The Windows Kernel Power Manager creates this file when you install Windows. The computer uses the Hiberfil.sys file to store a copy of the system memory on the drive when hibernation is turned on.

The size of the Hiberfil.sys file is approximately equal to how much Random Access Memory (RAM) is installed on the computer. The computer cannot go into hibernation if this file is not present. And even if you have disabled hibernation, your computer can still go to sleep. Here is the difference between sleep and hibernation:

  • Sleep: Windows can turn off the screen(s) and drive(s) while continuing to run in memory. A tap on the keyboard or moving the mouse will turn the screen(s) and drive(s) back on.
  • Hibernation: Windows takes the active memory, writes it to the Hiberfil.sys, and then turns the computer off. Pressing the power button will start Windows back up, where it loads the Hiberfil.sys file.

How to turn on or off hibernation in Windows

To disable hibernation, you must open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges. Since this article covers multiple versions of Windows, click on the link below that matches your version of Windows for how to open an Admin Command Prompt. All links open in a new window.

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 11

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 10

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows 8

How to open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges in Windows Vista and Windows 7

To delete the Hiberfil.sys file and make hibernation unavailable, follow these steps:

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges (see instructions above)
  2. At the Command Prompt, type powercfg.exe /hibernate off and press ENTER.
    Disable Windows Hibernation at the Command Prompt
  3. Type exit and then press ENTER to close the Command Prompt window.

To recreate the Hiberfil.sys file and make hibernation available, follow these steps:

  1. Open a Command Prompt with Administrator privileges (see instructions above)
    Renable Windows Hibernation at the Command Prompt
  2. At the Command Prompt, type powercfg.exe /hibernate on and press ENTER.
  3. Type exit and then press ENTER to close the Command Prompt window.

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