Best Platform for darktable - Linux or Windows 10?

I’m interested in moving from Capture One on Windows 10 to darktable and need to decide on a platform. Are there any limitations when using darktable on Windows 10 vs. Linux? I am comfortable with either operating system, but I don’t want to maintain darktable on both.

I’m curious about stability and functionality of darktable when used on either platform. Also, would darktable provide any type of integration with other photo-related programs, such as GIMP, digiKam, Affinity Photo, Topaz DeNoise, etc. on either Linux or Windows?

Hello @sshapiro63

To my knowledge all major Darktable developers work exclusively on Linux. Therefore this system should be much more tested and, most of all, optimized. Not to mention that on Linux you do not have any anti-virus running in background, which slows down your computer a bit; the file system is supposed to be faster on Linux etc etc.

Not tested personally, but Darktable is supposed to work fine in tandem with GIMP. It is also supposed to work fine with Digikam :slight_smile:

Thank you for responding. I do prefer Linux, but I know that some darktable users are satisfied with the Windows version. I can go with either platform, and I want to make sure I understand the benefits and risks with each solution.

Hello @sshapiro63

For what it is worth I am running Darktable 3.4, right now, on Windows 10. No problem so far :slight_smile:
This being said, I have read on this forum, over and over, that Darktable experience is much better on Linux.
As usual, you just have to try it by yourself and judge…

BTW, an user even compared lately Darktable with Capture on this forum. In his opinion Capture one is faster than Darktable. I know this for certain because I have asked him this specific question about the different speed of these 2 softwares. I don’t know what Capture One version he tested (I don’t suppose it is the latest 21 version…).

If you are interested you might take a look at the wonderful video tutorials on Darktable by Bruce Williams. I might be totally wrong but, judging from the icons on his videos, I surmise Bruce is running Linux Mint as distribution:

For a while I was running darktable on a dual boot laptop (Core i5, skylake) Win10 and linux mint 19.something. It was perfectly stable on both systems but ran noticeably quicker on linux (sorry, no hard data available on speeds, just my opinion). Soon after that I ditched windows, but I still get to “enjoy” it sometimes when the wife’s laptop misbehaves.

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One more here. It’s working fine.

It’s a pity that they didn’t manage to finish the Benchmark module. Would made it really easy to compare everything. Affinity Photo has that now in beta 1.9.

BTW, I hear great things about the M1, very powerful, but hear also many people complain about darktable on MacOS.

I use both Capture One and darktable on Win10. My experience is darktable is much, much more stable now on Win10 than it was back in the 2.x days, which was to be expected given it really is software with Linux in mind. But now I have very few crashes and even with an older computer and no OpenCL, darktable runs very well. The only thing that keeps me moving fully to darktable is the clarity/structure/sharpening approach in C1 gives me much better results and easily controlled to avoid halos/colour shifts. I still struggle a bit in darktable getting images as nicely sharpened (and sharpening is really just about managing contrast) without getting colour shifts that I can sometimes get in darktable - but I guess that’s more about operator error at this point :grimacing:


Thanks for the information. Capture One is a good program, and I like that it provides film simulations for my Fujifilm cameras. I have not had any major problems with the software, but the latest release, which I decided not to purchase, does not seem like much effort was put into improving the software beyond the previous version (which I use). I think the developers of darktable have a lot more passion about making the software better with each release. I’m not so sure about Capture One anymore.

I left C1 for darktable one year ago.
I have darktable installed on Windows 10 and (for development purposes) on Ubuntu Linux.
On Linux it is slightly faster but, if you have a good graphic card with OpenCL, not by much.
UI and stability have been improved a lot on Windows in the last releases.
It is also one of the not so many FOSS that fully supports HiDPI screens on Windows (unlike RT or GIMP for example).
Integration with external editors like GIMP can be added with lua scripts, there is a nice script installer now. You can try “edit with GIMP” or my script “ext editors”. With that you can configure as many programs as you like and do round trips with DT.
Like you, I initially missed the sharpening/clarity/structure thing in C1, although when I go back to old C1 edits now I find them way oversharpened and unnatural.
Having said so, a true capture sharpening feature is missing in DT, but it can be mitigated by using the contrast equalizer wisely. See here.
Also C1 applies output sharpening to jpgs by default. DT doesn’t have this feature natively, but againg it can be added with a lua script, for example “RL_sharpen”.
Good luck.

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I guess it depends on the hardware. If you have an Intel machine with integrated graphics darktable will probably be much slower on Windows. Whereas on Linux you have the new Intel neo Opencl driver - not sure, maybe it can be installed on Windows too meanwhile?
Anyway, I am on a dual boot dual graphics system now and I think there is no difference between darktable on Windows and darktable on Linux in terms of speed.
Well, I can configure Linux so darktable uses both of my graphics cards, but that does not make so much difference. Not sure that’s possible/easy on Windows.

Be aware e.g.

On my desktop, Darktable runs similarly well on Linux and Windows. It might be a bit faster on one of them, but not specifically so.

But drivers for my AMD GPU are less of a hassle on Linux these days. Other peripherals work better on Windows, though. After about five years of Linux, I am currently mostly running Windows, mainly to get access to Affinity Photo and a few other programs.

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Hello @bastibe

I am currently mostly running Windows, mainly to get access to Affinity Photo and a few other programs.

I could have wrote myself this sentence. Last year I have even bought myself a licence of Affinity photo, which I consider more feature-rich than GIMP :slight_smile:
I suppose the success of Windows and Apple is simply due to the huge amount of professional softwares for end-users in many domains (CAD, GIS, OFFICE, GRAPHICS).

Once in a whiile, over the past decades, I have tested Linux through VirtualBox or on a dual boot setup (mostly running Kde desktops) but in the end I have always ditched Linux in favour of Windows (please, don’t shoot me for this choice…).

I am truly amazed at the huge progress Darktable has done these past 2 years though and, thanks to Blender, Krita, Digikam etc, it is less and less “necessary” for everyone to choose Windows and Apple these recent days, IMHO

For me, the key enabler for using Windows was the WSL. I dare not live in an OS that does not have a proper shell. It’s a tool I use frequently, and can not work without. It’s the one tool to save my bacon when all else fails. For a long time, this limited me to Linux or macOS. But the WSL scratches that itch on Windows.

And for running GUI apps, I frankly don’t see much difference between buggy KDE, restrictive Gnome, bone-headed macOS, and inconsistent Windows. They are all infuriating and broken in their own way, but they all do their basic job sufficiently well to let me get work done.

I remember a time when I enjoyed one OS or another. I don’t any more. Everything is broken everywhere always. There are hundreds of paper cuts I notice daily, in all software. There is no elegance anywhere, no grace. Perhaps except for a very few command line tools. I feel exploited by my computer, yet I depend on it to get work done. So my yardstick is no longer one of beauty, but of brute utility. All OSes can be made to work. Currently I dislike Windows least.

(I am joking. A bit)

Merry Christmas.

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I think that is very common for just about everyone starting in on raw processing no matter which software people use. One of the best videos on sharpening is done by Paul Reiffer who uses C1 but is good for anyone using any software to better understand what not to do and what to watch for to avoid the dreaded over-sharpened look. Paul has another video on how to dehaze without a dehaze tool and it actually gives much better results too. I was lucky - got a very rare, very deeply discounted price for C120 perpetual license and the new v21 is nothing to upgrade for. So currently I use C1 for quickly editing everything I keep, then also using darktable for editing the very best images as alternate versions. I just don’t have the spare time in my life these days to really learn/practice to get the best from darktable but certainly the support and videos from people on this forum have been a huge help - so thank you all.

So back to the main topic - I am one of those with Intel and integrated graphics with no OpenCL but speed just doesn’t seem to be an issue - the only slowness I see is the denoise module working away. But its easy to set the module the way you want it, then keep it off until ready to export. I do think I’d invest in dedicated graphics and OpenCL before I’d consider moving over to Linux if I wanted better performance from darktable.

Hello @Bbawt

Every year I DO plan to buy for my personal use, at home, a version of Capture One since I have always read great reviews about this software.
This year I have declined once again because Darktable 3.4 has so many interesting features and improvements that it would be a pity not to take fully advantage of them… :slight_smile:

As regards sharpness at work I only take macro shots on a tripod with a Nikon D850 and a very sharp macro lens (Laowa 105 mm).
This year I have also thought about trying DxO photolab 4 since I have read interesting reviews about their new noise reduction “Prime” algorithm. I have avoided this trial because I have quickly realized I only take all my macro shots at ISO 64 and there is hardly any noise on them :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

Taking macro pictures of plant diseaes has alway been both a work and a hobby for me and I have always liked trying new softwares. This is the final and only reason for which I always turn back to Windows in the end and scrap Linux.
These past years the graphical open source softwares has improved quite a lot (Just think about Blender or Krita) but in the not distant past its quality was only so-so IMHO
If, for instance, I only had to work on PostgreSQL, which sometimes I do, I would surely only use Linux and avoid Windows but it is not the case for me…

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Off topic but, Powershell is great, besides, it has many free resources on the Internet and has a striving community with the same sharing attitude we’re used to.

My Windows desktop has a permanently opened PS session. (at home, only Linux)
Initially, I got many tasks done on that Windows environment by using bash scripts on an ubuntu vm.
As I got more confident with PS, never felt the need to get back to those bash scripts, as with PS I can do the same and somehow in a more straightforward way (which is logical, since it’s a native windows shell)

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Simple question, simple response : GNU/Linux.


I dual boot and am noticing the same, now it is running openCL accelerated in Linux. Slightly faster under Linux.

And let me add one point and call for help !

GNU/Linux is better because there is many devs on this platform. Windows is worst because there is a huge number of users and almost no dev to tackle the Windows specific issues and make sure the code run well on this platform. This is also true on MacOS.

So guys, if you want your platform to run well and if you are a developer come in to help maintaining those OS. It’s up to you to have a good running darktable on your favorite platform. There is no magic !