I wanted to give a guy named @Rik a shoutout here. I’m as close to entirely open-source based as possible - I run Manjaro, Darktable, Gimp, GMIC, Art/RT, Digikam and everything/anything remotely connected to image processing. I script a lot of stuff in bash as well and make extensive use of ImageMagick.
Until now there was one bit of software I ended up paying for a number of years ago - NeatImage. The makers make a native Linux client available with the same update policy as the Win/OSX versions. You pay only when there is a really huge version update, more or less a total overhaul of the software which only happened to me once and it was a totally reasonable amount. NI does not “phone home”, does not require activation, paid bug updates or any other nastiness I’ve come to associate with commercial software.
I have added ZereneStacker to NeatImage as only my second (gladly)paid software. Outstanding results, runs on Linux (without having to resort to WINE like Helicon Focus) and delivers sterling results. I used the trial version for about 3 weeks and paid up today for a license. A fair price with lifelong free updates and no limit to the number of PC’s I can run it on (my desktop and laptop in my case) took away any inhibitions I might have had. (And yes, I’ve tried align_image_stack/enfuse - not even in the same ballpark)
I’m entirely new to the focus stacking thing and I’m enjoying it tremendously. Even as a beginner, I’m getting results that make me sit up and enjoy this new-found side of photography. Manual rail, simple Tamron 90mm lens with 25mm extension tube and sometimes a 1.4 or 2 times converter is all I needed.
So thank you @Rik for some great software with a fair pricing and update policy as well as availability on Linux!