How to use Photoshop plugins in Linux with The Gimp and PSPI

Well, we all know that one of the biggest lacks of The Gimp is that it misses a good number of plugins. Photoshop is the one software that everyone loves and use when they have to apply any sort of mutation / transformation to its images, or when it has to create oustanding new graphics with the help of well projected plugins. For photoshop there are hundreds of plugins around.

Is this a problem for the Gimp then? Not at all. Many of you may not know it but The Gimp supports a large number of photoshop plugins, both in the Windows version and in the Linux version, thanks to this wonderful tool called PSPI. Now let’s see how to use it and what we can do with our new toy. Paying nothing, of course….

Getting Started

First we’ll have to install Wine on our Linux box (In Ubuntu you can look for Wine in synaptic), then we’ll need The Gimp, of course and PSPI. In THIS page you’ll find the Binary version for your system. We’ll see instruction for Linux only, and I’ll give you generic instructions, working on any Linux platform.

We’ll also need at least one Photoshop plugin! To get started and write down this guide I downloaded two plugins, one commercial and one freeware. The first one is from the very interesting company Faming Pear, I downloaded Designer Sextet from they’re download site. As for the second plugin, the freeware one, I’ve chosen Caravaggio from Xero Graphics.

Installing PSPI and photoshop plugins

Now it is time to install PSPI on your Gimp. The following is an extract from the PSPI site:

The Linux packages include three files:

  • README.linux
  • pspi, a small shell script
  •, the binary that wine runs

Copy pspi and 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 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 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.

So I did what they wrote in the instructions and also copied my freshly downloaded PS Plugins to a folder in my home that I called ~/.gimp-2.2/psplugins.

Gimp Folder for PSPlugins

Remember that this gimp folder we are referring to is an hidden folder, therefore, you’ll have to set your file browser so that it shows you hidden files. In my case, I use GNOME and Nautilus. I can see hidden files by using the Nautilus menù View –> Show hidden files.

Setting The Gimp UP

As the guide says, I start The Gimp and it hangs up for some seconds analizyng the newly installed plugin:

Gimps hangs for some seconds

But once Gimp is loaded I get no error message as expected (The PSPI guide suggested that an error may have occurred but I can’t see any). All works fine for now. Proceeding with the settings, I open the Gimp Menù Xtns –> Photoshop Plug-in Settings and this window shows up:

PS plugins settings

Hit the New button (In my screenshot it is the white sheet of paper with an orange star over it, on the upper left corner of the above screenshot) and choose the path where you putted your PS Plugins. In my case we saw that it is /home/darkmaster/.gimp-2.2/psplugins

Push the Ok button and a message will appear waring you that the new plugins will be loaded next time you restart The Gimp.

Testing the new PS Plugins

To complete the operation I close and then open again The Gimp. Even now I don’t get any error message. Fine! I then load an image from my HD, click on the filters menù and… hey! Here they are on the bottom of the menù, my newly installed Photoshop plugins! Great!

PS Filters in the Gimp menù

Let’s test them! Will they work? I start with Flaming Pear –> Aetherize and… wow it works! Here’s a screenshot!

aetherize ps plugin

Now it’s Caravaggio’s turn and wow, it works too! Another screenshot for the press 😀

caravaggio plugin

This is result of applying the Caravaggio filter:

Result of applying the Caravaggio filter in the Gimp

Damn it if this doesn’t look like a real painting 😀 ! This Caravaggio plugin kinda rocks and it’s freeware. A well come in my Gimp Universe.


So I tested two random Photoshop plugins from around the net and two on two of them worked. Guess there’s a very high compatibility thanks to Wine getting better and better with each release.. What can I say now? Enjoy and say goodbye to one of the most deprecated defects of The Gimp, the lack of good and professional plugins! If you’ve got the money, you can buy and use serious plugins like those from Alien Skin in Linux with The Gimp and PSPI now 😀 !

Rating and Credits

5on5 rating

I rate this PSPI extension for The Gimp as a 5 on 5, it does what it promises to do and it simply rocks and adds vital functionalities to The Gimp.

A real thanks goes to the Wine project, PSPI team an to The Gimp creators. Dear Developers, you know that we all love you guys, keep up with the great work! Have fun everybody 😉


  1. Pingback: Painting Programs for Linux « Il Pozzo Oscuro

  2. Photoshop for linux? Well as of now I am using Photoshop for windows, but I also want to learn Photoshop on linux. Hope that is easy too.

  3. Not Photoshop in Linux, even if it is possible with Crossover or Wine, here I’m talking principally about using Photoshop plugins in The Gimp… way different 😉

  4. error message

    Start Gimp in a terminal.The error messages are displayed there.
    A good tip,is to start an troubled application in a terminal,you never know,it can give you useful incite of the problem.

  5. I have been a Photoshop user for years. I recently installed linux and installed GIMP. I personally prefer gimp’s interface over photoshop. I like the 3 floating windows. It gets the tool pallet and layers pallet out of the way. The only way I know of to pull that off reasonably with photoshop is to have a dual screen setup.

    Thanks a bunch for the article. I will have to try this out. The one thing I missed about PS is the cool plugins. Especially the alien skin plugins.

  6. Well, now you’ll be able to install those plugins in gimp too, right? 😉
    The only thing I just don’t get is… how could you possibly live in photoshop without using the layers and tools palettes???

  7. thank you dude. you rock. as soon as i saw “thedarkmaster”, i knew that i would have it working by your help. i swore to my wife that i would by the time i finished reading your post. and i did. nobody said “you gotta have wine”

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