Linux users and Google watchers received a surprise treat
Thursday evening with the announcement that the Mountain View, CA
company was releasing a Linux version of their photo management
The software was quietly released at 11 p.m. on May 25, without
(as yet) even an announcement on the Google Blog.
By Friday morning, many interested users outside of the United
States reported that they could not access the Picasa for Linux
page--at least, not without using a US-based proxy server. A
spokesperson for Google indicated that they were aware of the
"The team has seen that report (and also several from users
abroad who can use it). They're looking into it but I can't confirm
that's the case unilaterally at this point," stated Google's Megan
Google Open Source Program Manager Chris DiBona contacted
Linux Today prior to the release to elaborate on the
According to DiBona, the port of Picasa to the Linux platform
will not only give Linux users one more Google application for
their general use, but this release will also assist other software
developers in their port projects as well.
The reason for this, DiBona explained, is that to enable the
Linux version of Picasa the Google development team relied on the
WINE Project's emulation technology. Specifically, Picasa will use
WINE internally in order to function on Linux. In doing so, he
added, "we made some pretty big additions to WINE." These additions
will be added back to the WINE Project right away. Google's 225
patches for WINE can be downloaded from the new WINE page at the
DiBona explained that Google was able to work extensively with
CodeWeavers to implement the Picasa port with WINE. With these
additions to the WINE code, DiBona said, "it should make it a lot
easier for other projects to get their applications ported to
Picasa, founded in 2001, was purchased by Google in July of
2004, and the photo management tool has seen some extensive use,
albeit from Windows users. DiBona indicated that Google made a
public committment to begin porting two applications to Linux about
a year ago. The other application in this project is Google Earth.
Picasa for Linux was announced first simply because it was finished
When asked if the additions to WINE would bootstrap Google
Earth's porting progress, DiBona answered in the negative,
explaining that Google Earth relied on Qt and GL libraries and
code, so additional WINE support would not help. No timeline for
that application's release was revealed at this time.
Picasa for Linux is available as a "lab release," DiBona said,
with final tweaks and bug fixes coming out soon after tonight's
initial deployment. Users should see functionality comparable to
the Windows version of the product, though without a few features.
Most notably absent now is the ability to burn CDs. The
application's internationalization support is not active as yet,
either. Picasa for Linux has been tested and runs well on Debian-
and Red Hat-based distros, as well as Mandriva Linux, DiBona
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