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Grokking The Gimp
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Setting the X Window System to Run More Than 8 bpp

Using the GIMP is greatly enhanced by having a display with sufficient color depth  to display subtle color variations. A display with only 8 bits per pixel (bpp) can represent only 256 colors simultaneously, which is insufficient for many photographs. The result, as explained in Section  9.5.1, is a type of color distortion called dithering. If your video adapter has sufficient RAM, it is possible to display at 16 or 24 bits per pixel, which will greatly enhance your viewing pleasure and your ability to work effectively with color. For example, to run at 16 bits per pixel at a $1024\times 768$ screen resolution, you'll need about 1.6 Mb of video RAM. However, at a resolution of $800\times 600$, you'll need less than 1 Mb. Whether it is reasonable to use the lower resolution to get better color depth is up to the individual user to decide.

The X Window System on Linux machines typically defaults to only 8 bpp. If you are using XFree86, the following command can be used to run a higher color depth (for other X Window Systems, consult your man pages):

% startx -- -bpp 16
This command will run X at 16 bpp only if there is an appropriate section in the XF86Config file. For Redhat Linux systems, this file is typically found in the directory /etc or /etc/X11. More details on how to configure the X Window System using XF86Config can be found in the XF86Config man page.

Grokking The Gimp
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