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Image Archiving   -   2005/03/01Viewed 144 times this month, last update: 2005/03/14

Like many geeks out there, I have a collection of thousands of pictures I have taken. Most people use the software supplied with their cameras, which I'm sure has some archival system, and maybe even a description and searching system. I however, do not use the software that came with my A80 because I use Linux. Linux does have several image management software systems, but I do not like the idea of being tied to one specific software package. After all, I'm going to have these pictures, and want to be able to search them for literally decades to come.

I use a simple timestamp based archival system, where the script I wrote to download pictures off of my camera creates a directory named with the current date and time into which the picture files are placed. This works fine for saving, everything is nicely separated, and if I can remember the exact date, I can find a picture after searching through a few, or a few hundred...

The problem is that if I want to find all pictures of my dog Dakota, I would have to look at every single image, which could take hours, at least. My ImageServer project allows me to search for Dakota, since each picture imported into the system has descriptions, but I don't upload every picture I take into the imageserver, normally only the exceptionally good or interesting ones. What I need is a way to store descriptions into my every-picture-ever-taken archive. I have finally found a way.

The JPEG image format used by nearly all digital cameras allows for 'comment' blocks to be added directly into the file. Linux has two commands, wrjpgcom and rdjpgcom (part of the jpeg-6b package), which allow the reading and writing of comments into and out of JPEG files. However, commenting all of the thousands of pictures in my archive with just these command-line tools would take forever. However, if I could get comments into the images, then I could easily search the archive with the rdjpgcom command and the 'find' command. Also, each file would be self-describing. No separate text files or databases to keep in sync and back up. Very tidy. The problem is: How to get all those images described. The answer: The MaPiVi tool by Martin Herrmann. This tool allows you to comment whole batches of images at a time, view their comments, and all the while see what you are commenting. You can select a whole directory full of image files, and add the same comment to each, like "Christmas at mom's house, 2005", then go in to each picture individually, to add another comment about the specific scene or people. Using this tool I've already described nearly half of my image archive, now searchable and actually useful!

MaPiVi even has a built-in search tool, allowing you to search for specific key words in your descriptions, but since the descriptions are in standard JPEG comment blocks, you're not tied to MaPiVi. Any comment reading tool (like rdjpegcom and find) can search the archive!

Matt Bell (2005-03-01): Neat! I've been looking for the exact same thing.

Now I may have to finally make a dedicated Linux box...

Erik (2005-03-01): Of course you do! Linux, gphoto2, gimp, MaPiVi and a good printer (Epson or HP) make a great combination!

quixote (2005-08-08): I just found Mapivi, and it looks like what I need. However, as a Linux newbie, I can't gifure out how to get it started! I have ImageMagick. I unpacked the Mapivi.bz2 file, but that gives me an exe file which Fedora tells me is a DOS executable. Even I know that. So now what? Can you help? I can't seem to contact mrherrmann. The mails just keep bouncing back.

Beautiful photos you have, by the way!

Erik (2005-08-08): Here is the sourceforge download page for the right file. It looks like someone uploaded a windows binary to the linux download page. To use this, you should select a mirror site, then use "tar -xfvj filename" to unpack the archive. In there is a README file for usage. You'll need to also install a bunch of other Perl modules. The README and the MaPiVi page should list them. The easiest way is to use the perl download/installer tool by running the command "perl -mCPAN -eshell". The first time it'll ask you a bunch of questions. The defaults should work fine. Just pick a few mirror download sites that sound good. When you get to the CPAN command prompt, type "install packagename" to install the packages. Good luck, and thanks for the complement on my terribly amateur pictures!

anonymous (2005-08-09): Thanks a million! I feel much better knowing it really was a DOS executable. I *thought* so. Iguess I need to learn to trust the Force more. And many thanks too for the instructions re the perl installer tool. There were several times in the past I could have really used something like that, but I didn't even know it existed. Thanks again!

quixote (2005-08-09): (oops. that was me just then.)

Erik (2005-08-10): I'm glad I could help!

MarkS (2006-04-28): Any thoughts on fspot as an Image Archiver?

Erik (2006-05-01): MarkS, fspot looks like a truly awesome program. It doesn't exactly fit my needs, (nor does MaPiVi now that I'm shooting in RAW though) but it does look very full featured.

See also: Digital Photography with Linux


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