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icon darktable GitHub Workflow Status (branch) CII Best Practices

darktable is an open source photography workflow application and non-destructive raw developer - a virtual lighttable and darkroom for photographers. It manages your digital negatives in a database, lets you view them through a zoomable lighttable and enables you to develop raw images, enhance them and export them to local or remote storage.


darktable is not a free Adobe® Lightroom® replacement.

Table of Contents

  1. Documentation
  2. Website
  3. Requirements
  4. Installing
  5. Updating from older versions
  6. Obtaining extensions
  7. Building
  8. Using
  9. Contributing
  10. FAQ
  1. Wiki
  2. Mailing lists


The darktable user manual is maintained in the dtdocs repository.

Lua API documentation is maintained in the luadocs repository.


The website ( is maintained in the dtorg repository.


Supported platforms

  • Linux (64-bit)
  • FreeBSD (64-bit)
  • Windows (64-bit), 8.1 w/ UCRT and later
  • macOS

Big-endian platforms are not supported.

32-bit platforms are not officially supported - they might or might not work.

Windows support is still young and suffers from bugs that do not affect Linux. If possible, prefer using darktable on Linux.


(workable minimum / recommended minimum):

  • RAM: 4 GB / 8 GB
  • CPU: Intel Pentium 4 (Core 2 for Windows) / Intel Core i5 4×2.4 GHz
  • GPU: none / Nvidia with 1024 CUDA cores, 4 GB, OpenCL 1.2 compatible
  • free disk space: 250 MB / 1 GB

darktable can run on lightweight configurations (even on a Raspberry Pi), but expect modules like denoise, local contrast, contrast equalizer, retouch or liquify to be slow beyond usable.

A GPU is not mandatory but is strongly recommended for a smoother experience. Nvidia GPUs are recommended for safety because some AMD drivers behave unreliably with some modules (e.g. local contrast).


If the latest release is still not available as a pre-built package for your distribution, you can build the software yourself following the instructions below.

Latest release

4.2.0 (stable)

When using a pre-built package, ensure that it has been built with Lua, OpenCL, OpenMP and Colord support. These are optional and will not prevent darktable from running if missing, but their absence will degrade the user experience. Notably, some Flatpak, Snap and Appimage packages lack OpenCL and Lua support.

Development snapshot

The development snapshot reflects the current state of the master branch. It is intended for testing and is generally not safe. See the notes below for warnings and precautions about using the master branch.

Updating from older versions

When updating darktable from an older release, you only need install the newest version. Existing files will be preserved.

However, newer releases occasionally need to change the structure of the library database (containing the whole list of images known to darktable, with their editing history). If this happens you will be prompted with a request to either upgrade the database or close the software.

Migration to a newer database structure/newer release means that your edits (both new and old) will no longer be compatible with older versions of darktable. Upgrades are definitive. Newer versions are always compatible with older edits, but newer edits are generally not compatible with older versions.

darktable automatically backs up the library database when a new version causes it to be upgraded (in ~/.config/darktable/library.db-pre-3.0.0 for example), so you can revert to the previous release by restoring this backup if needed (simply rename it to library.db).

If you try to open a newer database with an older version of the software, any portions of your edits that were undertaken with new features will be discarded and you will lose them. This also applies to the sidecar XMP files.

If you plan to move regularly between two versions (new/unstable and old/stable) see below for details of how to do it safely.

Obtaining extensions

Extensions and plugins use the Lua scripting language and can be downloaded here. Lua support is optional in darktable, so make sure you have the lua interpreter and its development files (package lua-dev or lua-devel, depending on distributions) installed on your system while building or ensure the package you are using has been built with this library.

Extensions allow exporting for various media and websites, merge/stack/blend HDR, panoramas or focus bracketing, apply AI-based facial recognition, manage tags and GPS data, etc.



Compatible compilers:

  • Clang: 8 and later
  • GCC: 8 and later
  • MinGW-w64: 6 and later

Required dependencies (minimum version):

  • CMake 3.18
  • GTK 3.24.15
  • GLib 2.40
  • SQLite 3.15 (but 3.24 or newer strongly recommended)
  • Exiv2 0.24 (but at least 0.27.4 built with ISO BMFF support needed for Canon CR3 raw import)

Required dependencies (no version requirement):

  • Lensfun (for automatic lens correction) (Note: alpha 0.3.95 and git master branch are not supported)
  • Little CMS 2

Optional dependencies (minimum version):

  • OpenMP 4.5 (for CPU multi-threading and SIMD vectorization)
  • LLVM 3.9 (for OpenCL checks at compilation time)
  • OpenCL 1.2 (for GPU-accelerated computing)
  • Lua 5.4 (for plugins and extension scripting)
  • libgphoto2 2.5 (for camera tethering)
  • Imath 3.1.0 (for 16-bit "half" float TIFF export and faster import)
  • libavif 0.8.2 (for AVIF import & export)
  • libheif 1.13.0 (for HEIF/HEIC/HIF import; also for AVIF import if no libavif)
  • libjxl 0.7.0 (for JPEG XL import & export)
  • WebP 0.3.0 (for WebP import & export)

Optional dependencies (no version requirement):

  • colord, Xatom (for fetching the system display color profile)
  • G'MIC (for .gmz compressed LUT support)
  • PortMidi (for MIDI input support)
  • SDL2 (for gamepad input support)
  • CUPS (for print mode support)
  • OpenEXR (for EXR import & export)
  • OpenJPEG (for JPEG 2000 import & export)
  • GraphicsMagick or ImageMagick (for misc image format import)

To install all the dependencies on Linux systems, you may use the source repositories of your distribution (provided they are up-to-date):

Fedora and RHEL

sudo dnf builddep darktable


sudo zypper si -d darktable


sed -e '/^#\sdeb-src /s/^# *//;t;d' "/etc/apt/sources.list" \
  | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/darktable-sources-tmp.list > /dev/null \
  && (
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get build-dep darktable
sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/darktable-sources-tmp.list


sudo apt-get build-dep darktable

Install missing dependencies

If mandatory dependencies are missing on your system, the software build will fail with errors like Package XXX has not been found or Command YYY has no provider on this system. If you see one of these errors you should find out which package provides the missing package/command in your distribution, then install it. This can usually be done in your package manager (not the application manager customarily provided by default in your distribution) or from the internet with a search engine. You may need to install a package manager first (like APT on Debian/Ubuntu, or DNF on Fedora/RHEL).

This process might be tedious but you only need to do it once. See this page on building darktable for one-line commands that will install most dependencies on the most common Linux distributions.

Get the source

Master branch (unstable)

The master branch contains the latest version of the source code and is intended:

  • as a working base for developers,
  • for beta-testers to chase bugs,
  • for users willing to sacrifice stability for new features without waiting for the next release.

The master branch comes with no guarantee of stability and might corrupt your database and XMP files, result in loss of data and edit history or temporarily break compatibility with previous versions and commits.

How dangerous is it? Most of the time, it is fairly stable. As with any rolling-release kind of deployment, bugs appear more often but are fixed faster too. Sometimes, though, these bugs can result in losses or inconsistencies in the editing history of your pictures. This is fine if you don't need to open your edits again in the future, but maybe not if you manage an estate.

After backing up your ~/.config/darktable directory and the sidecar .XMP files of any pictures you intend to open with the master branch, you may obtain the source as follows:

git clone --recurse-submodules --depth 1
cd darktable

See below (in "Using") how to start a test install of the unstable version without damaging your regular stable install and files.

Latest stable release


The darktable project releases two major versions every year, on Summer and Winter Solstices, tagged with even numbers (e.g. 4.0, 4.2, 4.4, 4.6). Minor revisions are tagged with a third digit (e.g. 4.0.1, 4.0.2) and mostly provide bug fixes and camera support. You may want to compile these stable releases yourself to get better performance for your particular computer:

git clone --recurse-submodules --depth 1
cd darktable
git fetch --tags
git checkout tags/release-4.2.0

Get submodules

Note that libxcf, OpenCL, RawSpeed, whereami and LibRaw are tracked via git submodules, so after checking-out darktable, you need to update/checkout the submodules too:

git submodule update --init


Easy way

WARNING: If you have previously built darktable, don't forget to first completely remove (rm -R) the build and /opt/darktable directories to avoid conflicting files from different versions. Many weird behaviours and transient bugs have been reported that can be traced to the build cache not properly invalidating the changed dependencies, so the safest way is to completely remove previously built binaries and start again from scratch.

darktable provides a shell script that automatically takes care of building on Linux and macOS for classic cases in a single command.

./ --prefix /opt/darktable --build-type Release --install --sudo

If you want to install a test version alongside your regular/stable version, change the install prefix:

./ --prefix /opt/darktable-test --build-type Release --install --sudo

This builds the software for your architecture only, with:

  • -O3 optimization level,
  • SSE/AVX support if detected,
  • OpenMP support (multi-threading and vectorization) if detected,
  • OpenCL support (GPU offloading) if detected,
  • Lua scripting support if detected.

If you want to have dartkable displayed along your other applications, you only need to add a symbolic link:

ln -s /opt/darktable/share/applications/org.darktable.darktable.desktop /usr/share/applications/org.darktable.darktable.desktop

Now, your custom-built darktable is ready to be used just like any pre-packaged software.

Manual way

Alternatively, you can use a manual build to pass custom arguments.

mkdir build/
cd build/
cmake -DCMAKE_INSTALL_PREFIX=/opt/darktable/ ..
sudo make install



Test/unstable version

To use a test version of darktable without damaging your regular/stable version's files and database, start darktable in a terminal with:

/opt/darktable-test/bin/darktable --configdir "~/.config/darktable-test"

and ensure that you set the option "write sidecar file for each image" to "never" in preferences -> storage -> XMP. This way, your regular/stable version will save its configuration files in ~/.config/darktable, as usual, the test/unstable one will save in ~/.config/darktable-test, and the two versions will not produce database conflicts.

Regular/stable version

Simply launch it from your desktop application menu or, from a terminal, run darktable or /opt/darktable/bin/darktable. If the installation did not create a launcher in your applications menu, run:

sudo ln -s /opt/darktable/share/applications/org.darktable.darktable.desktop /usr/share/applications/org.darktable.darktable.desktop

You may find darktable configuration files in ~/.config/darktable. If you experience crashes at startup, try launching darktable from a terminal with OpenCL disabled using darktable --disable-opencl.

Further reading

There is a comprehensive list of build instructions for Ubuntu/Debian related distributions or for Fedora and related distributions. These build instructions can be easily adapted to many other Linux distributions.


There are many ways you can contribute to the darktable project:


Why is my camera not detected when plugged-in ?

Check that you have the latest gphoto2 library installed in order to support the newest cameras.

Why is my lens not detected/corrected in darkroom ?

Lens correction profiles are provided by Lensfun, which has 2 parts: a program and a database. Most Linux distributions provide a recent enough version of the program, but provide an outdated version of the database. If Lensfun is correctly installed, then update its database in a terminal by running:


or alternatively


Why do the thumbnails in the lighttable view look different to the preview in the darkroom view ?

For RAW files that have never been edited in darktable (when you have just imported them), the lighttable view, by default, shows the JPEG preview placed into the RAW file by your camera. Loading this JPEG file is faster and makes the lighttable view more responsive when importing large collections of images.

However, this JPEG thumbnail is processed by the firmware of the camera, with proprietary algorithms, and colors, sharpness and contrast that might not look the same as darktable processing (which is what you see when opening the image in the darkroom view). Camera manufacturers don't publish details of the pixel processing they perform in their firmware so their look is not exactly or easily reproducible by other software.

However, once RAW images have been edited in darktable, the lighttable thumbnail should exactly match the darkroom preview, as they are processed in the same way.

If you never want to see the embedded JPEG thumbnail in the lighttable view, for RAW files, you should set the option "use raw file instead of embedded JPEG from size" to "never" in preferences -> lighttable.


Mailing lists