How to Install Darktable and Keep it updated in Debian 11 Bullseye

This simple tutorial shows how to install the Darktable photography software and raw developer in Debian 11 via different ways.

Darktable is available in Debian’s own repository, but it’s old. For the latest release, user may use the OBS repository or Flatpak package. Here’s the step by step how to install guide, as well as the key features for each packages.

Option 1: Install Darktable via Debian repository:

Like most other Linux, Debian has the Darktable package in the system default repositories. However, the package is old and will never be updated.

Features of Darktable in Debian repository:

  • Lack new features as it’s always old.
  • No package update.
  • Support 64-bit modern PC/laptop and arm64 CPU architecture types (e.g., Apple Silicon and Raspberry Pi)
  • Native deb package.

To install the package, open terminal from start menu and run the command below:

sudo apt install darktable

If you’re going to do this in a fresh Debian installation, run sudo apt update first to update the system cache.

Option 2: Install Darktable via OBS repository:

There’s an OBS repository that provides the latest Darktable packages for Debian, Ubuntu, SUSE, and Fedora users.

Features of Darktable in OBS repository:

  • Official (Darktable website refers to the repository).
  • Always updated (update via either apt upgrade or system update manager if any)
  • 64-bit only for modern PC or laptop.
  • Native deb package.

1. Add the OBS repository:

Firstly, open terminal from start menu (or search from ‘Activities‘ overview). When it opens, run command below to add the repository:

echo 'deb http://download.opensuse.org/repositories/graphics:/darktable/Debian_11/ /' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/graphics:darktable.list

This command creates a new “graphics:darktable.list” file under /etc/apt/sources.list.d directory, and writes the URL source into that file.

Depends on your system edition change Debian_11 to Debian_10, Debian_Next, or xUbuntu_20.04.

2. Install the repository key:

To make your system trust the package from that repository, download & install the key by running the command below:

curl -fsSL https://download.opensuse.org/repositories/graphics:darktable/Debian_11/Release.key | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /etc/apt/trusted.gpg.d/graphics_darktable.gpg > /dev/null

Also change Debian_11 in the code depends system edition. And, Ubuntu user may need to install “curl” first via sudo apt install curl command.

3. Download package index:

After adding the repository and installing the key, update package cache by running command:

sudo apt update

4. Install / upgrade Darktable:

Finally, user may install the raw developer via command:

sudo apt install darktable

Or, upgrade from an existing version along with other system updates via command:

sudo apt upgrade

(Optional) Uninstall Darktable & the repository:

To remove the software package, open terminal and run command:

sudo apt remove --autoremove darktable

And, remove the OBS repository either by removing the source file or using Software & Updater tool at ‘Other Software’ tab:

Remove third-party software sources

Option 3: Install Darktable via Flatpak package:

Flatpak is an universal package format runs in most Linux systems. It runs in sandbox and requires a separate daemon to run the app.

Features of Darktable as Flatpak:

  • Official (the app website refers to the package).
  • Install updates automatically.
  • Has the latest dependency libraries as they are bundled.
  • 64-bit only so far.
  • Take more disk space (a few hundred MB) due to requirement of separated GNOME platform.
  • Installs on most Linux.

Install Darktable as Flatpak:

Firstly, open a terminal window from start menu. When it opens, run command to install the Flatpak daemon:

sudo apt install flatpak

Next, Install Darktable as Flatpak using command:

flatpak install https://dl.flathub.org/repo/appstream/org.darktable.Darktable.flatpakref

Like normal apps, user may search for and open the app from start menu (‘Activities’ overview). Though, there will be duplicated app icons if native deb also installed.

(Optional) How to remove Darktable Flatpak package:

To remove the software package, run command in a terminal window:

flatpak uninstall --delete-data org.darktable.Darktable

Also remove useless run-times via flatpak uninstall --unused.

Summary:

Darkable is easy to install in Debian via 3 different ways. While the system’s stock package is always old, the latest version is available in both Deb and Flatpak package formats. And, there are also a few third-party PPAs for Ubuntu users

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