Lightweight Linux: review of picture browsers

Lightweight Linux - Review of Picture BrowsersA vital part of my system is my picture browser. I use it browse the images I put on the website, to review images I’ve created with GIMP, to scan wallpapers, and to look at pictures I’ve took. Originally I was going to call this “Review of Picture Browsers” but I realized on my system the more important feature I needed was lightweight. I looked at seven picture viewers and here is how they stacked up.

The contenders:

From top to bottom… Not pictured: feh, (out to lunch)

All the browsers I tried have stayed true to Linux form and are pretty lightweight. I did not review fspot here as it is a mono application and at least at the time I don’t consider it a lightweight application. All these applications I have tested over the last several weeks to get a good idea about them.

To test each application I first purged the memory then opening numerous images with “appliation *.jpg“.

The test bed:

Startup times are calculated by the hardened method of, “one mississippi, two mississippi…”, also I didn’t drop the gnome caches too, sueme.

The criteria for the judging process is thus in matter of priority:

  1. Lightweight – by lightweight I mean startup and application responsiveness.
  2. Ability to scale images with both quality and speed
  3. SVG support – bonus
  4. Ability to organize files – bonus
  5. All had full-screen support.

Eye of Gnome

I doubt few people travel far from Gnome’s default viewer. Eye of Gnome starts reasonably quick, and scales images well. EOG also browses quickly and is the best in the group creating a good browsing window for all images.

Gnome’s Belt Holder

On this computer though, the EOG’s lag is noticeable with the startup time for the sample 13 images being 15 seconds. Otherwise I can see why EOG is Gnome’s default viewer. Bonus to Eye of Gnome for SVG support.

Score: 4.4/5


I thought about whether or not to add this one as Gthumb is more of an image organizer that an image browser but a lot of people like it (as do I). Gthumb opens as quickly as EOG and its image browsing is simple and does a good job. The organizing features of Gthumb are nice, though I don’t think very intuitive.

  • (+) Organization support
  • (-) Couldn’t get arrow keys to work
  • (-) Thumbnails broke on my setup
  • (-) No SVG support

Score: 3.9/5


Mirage is a python application for viewing images. As a python dependency I knew Mirage wouldn’t be blazing on this computer – startup time was 30 seconds. Of all the browsers beside EOG I thought Mirage was the best designed. Mirage also has a few nice features adding in. Unfortunately Mirage scales poorly and slowly.

Score: 2/5


With GQview I didn’t know what to expect I haven’t seen anyone using it. GQview is an image browser and organizer, and starts in about eight seconds. GQview though is a bit of a mess as it seems torn between trying to do too much. GQview does runs well and I’m still using it on my system for it’s excellent collections support.

GQ “I’m too sexy” view
Lightweight Linux - Review of Picture Browsers

  • (+) customizable
  • (+) svg support
  • (-) poor scaling
  • (-) mouse clicks only option to browse images
  • (?) no more development?

Score: 3.9/5


XFCE’s Ristretto trails the pack. Another python application and it needs lovin’. Startup time was 27 seconds. Not only that but flipping between images was slow and the scaling quality was poor. I didn’t spend alot of time with this application.

Score: 1.5/5


Feh is a bare bones image viewer and probably not for everyone. Feh has a minimum of dependencies and above all is fast – almost instantaneous, two seconds to startup. Run from the command line, Feh can be used to browse and scale images but will require setting up to use on the desktop; I’ll take more of this tomorrow. Feh is not for the regular user, but it is the best lightweight solution.

Score: 4.6


8 thoughts on “Lightweight Linux: review of picture browsers

  1. nightmorph

    Wow, you’ve had some bad luck with Ristretto. On my systems, it has a cold start of about 2 seconds. Hot start, less than that, less than even 1 second.

    I run both Gnome, Xfce, and a nice Gnome/Xfce hybrid, but even in this latter case, I don’t see the Gnome environment dragging down the Xfce apps (much as they might try).

    Ristretto doesn’t have the best interface I’ve ever seen — EOG is perhaps slightly better. But man, is Ristretto fast. Fastest image app I’ve ever used. You may want to check your I/O settings someplace — there’s gotta be a hitch somewhere. What hardware you use? Ristretto is fast even on the World’s Crappiest Laptop, my 7-year-old Toshiba Satellite.

    Thanks for this blog post, by the way — I’m in the market for a picture organizer app, and lightweight ones are definitely on my mind.

  2. Tony Heskett

    Hey, thanks *LOTS* for that writeup!

    eog has been starting horribly slowly (40sec?) and making me gnash my teeth rather; feh pops up as I hit RETURN on the command, s’lovely!

    Great tip.


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