PSPI: Running Photoshop plug-ins in GIMP
Now on Linux, too!

Tor Lillqvist (tml)

PSPI

PSPI is a GIMP plug-in that runs 3rd-party Photoshop plug-in filters. I wrote it in 2001, and it initially worked on Windows only. Then nothing much happened until March 2006 when it became available also on Linux. All that was needed, basically, was for somebody to try building it using winegcc. Possibly building and running it on Linux might have worked already years ago, but nobody tried... Thanks to Mukund for trying it on Linux and reporting the success!

Where to find Photoshop plug-in filters that are any good?

Google is your friend. You will find time-limited or functionally limited demo versions of commercial filters, and "freeware" filters. A lot of the 3rd-party filters that you can find on the net are mostly crap, though, and don't do anything particularily exciting that one couldn't do with GIMP by itself already.

There are some exceptions though. I think that for instance many filters from Flaming Pear are highly regarded. You can find time-limited demo versions, and some giveaway fully functional ones from their site.

Some magazines that come with "cover" CD-ROMs, like Computer Arts, often include commercial Photoshop filters on the CD-ROMs. They might for instance be slightly older versions than those that you need to pay full price for.

Photoshop plug-in filters (for the Windows version of Photoshop, which is what we are talking about here) are actually (32-bit) Windows DLLs, which are dynamically loaded into the plug-in host process's address space. They are files with the extension .8bf, though, not .dll. (GIMP plug-ins, on the other hand, are separate programs, .exe files on Windows, that run as separate processes.)

Unlike GIMP plug-ins, 3rd-party Photoshop plug-ins don't use any common user interface library. (GIMP plug-ins use GTK+, obviously.) This is because 3rd-party Photoshop plug-ins are usually available both for the Windows and Macintosh versions of Photoshop. Typically each company uses some homegrown widget library, with a look and feel that is widely different than the normal Windows common control look and feel, or the GTK+ look and feel.

Windows

The Windows package includes just pspi.exe. Put it in your GIMP plug-ins folder, typically \Program Files\GIMP\lib\gimp\2.0\plug-ins.

Linux

The Linux packages include three files:

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

Copy pspi and pspi.exe.so to your personal GIMP plug-ins folder, typically ~/.gimp-2.6/plug-ins .

When you run GIMP it will issue a warning "wire_read(): error" as pspi.exe.so 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 pspi.exe.so 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.

64-bit Linux

The pspi plug-in won't run out of the box on amd64 linux since it is a 32- bit application running under the Wine emulator and thus requires some additional 32-bit libraries which are normally not installed by default.
To check which libraries are missing, use the ldd(1) command:

ldd pspi.exe.so

Downloads

These downloads are for quite old Linux distro versions, I know. But I have not worked on PSPI for quite some time, and as far as I know these binaries should work also in newer releases of the corresponding distros.

The Windows, SUSE and Ubuntu packages are by me. The Fedora Core 5 packages are provided by Veit Wahlich <cru |at| zodia |dot| de>.