programming server admin

ImageMagick followup: they’re not going to fix it

Response from ImageMagick folks, when I asked them to either re-instate the working binaries, … or stop building as Lion-only:

“We only host and maintain current versions of ImageMagick on one OS
release level. We have a small development team and do not have the
time to support multiple releases and multiple OS levels. The fix is to
download the MacPorts version of ImageMagick which runs under Leopard.
Another solution would be to donate a Mac with Leopard installed so we
can create binaries. We only have one Mac and it hosts Lion.”

Fine – it’s their software, they can do whatever they want. And I think they’ve done a great thing over the years by sharing this command-line tool with the world.

Except … their alternatives aren’t as reasonable as they sound.

Firstly, MacPorts is incredibly difficult to use (even as a former sysadmin and programmer, I find it painful). Simply put: I know it will take me at least a day to get that working, possibly several.

Secondly, deliberately deleting their own working software, and replacing it with non-working software, is deeply irresponsible. If this is how they approach the overall product, how long before you get “caught out” as a user when they pull some other rug out from under you? “Using ImageMagick today? Well – get it while you can, because tomorrow, they might arbitrarily delete it.” (this is what just happened to me: in the space of a few weeks, the first version I downloaded was deleted and replaced with a knowingly-broken version. My backup copy got corrupted, and I thought I could re-download from the web – nope!)

Asking them about this, they pointed out that the version from a few weeks ago had a bug which was a potential security hole. Fine, so they should discourage people from using it – but that doesn’t excuse *deleting* it, and providing only upgrade paths that are painful or expensive (Lion is not free).

It pains me to say this – as noted above, I think the IM product has been a great thing – but I have to conclude:

Don’t use ImageMagick. Just when you need it, it’s liable to let you down.

As for me, I see no other choice but to give Adobe more money, buying a more expensive copy of Photoshop that I don’t really need. I can’t afford to waste days fiddling around with MacPorts – and not even be guaranteed of success. I just need to do one, tiny, simple operation (an image resize!), but unless I can find a kind person who’s got an archived copy of ImageMagick, it’s not going to happen :(.

Oh, well.

9 replies on “ImageMagick followup: they’re not going to fix it”

It’s an open source project, so sometimes you get what you pay for.

I’m sorry if you thought open source meant “free”.

The first time I _ever_ tried macports it took me 30 minutes to install what I needed, including compilation. If you just RTFM you could’ve gotten it working in the same time it cost you to write this rant of yours.

That’s your experience, I’m glad for you.

It’s not a universal experience. I have a degree in Comp Sci, and I spent 6 years as a linux sysadmin – and I still couldn’t get it to work easily.

As of a few minute ago, installing ImageMagick using Homebrew and all of its dependencies took 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Your milage may vary, but it’s worth a try before buying Photoshop.

Removing non-Lion builds from their website is silly, but I can hardly fault them. Many open-source projects rely on the community to provide builds and don’t even host them on their website!

Had the same nonsense with installers for commercial software being compiled with XP-only DLL’s just after it came out and I was on 2k still. The software ran fine, it was just the installers.


Any reason you need Adobe Photoshop over something like The GIMP? If you’re resizing stuff on a server there are also Python modules (PIL?) you could write a script around.

Good point, I’m not sure if I tried GIMP yet – although given the size of the image, I suspect it will just crash (GIMP will be doing it’s own thing, but lots of apps rely on 3rd party libs that suck. e.g. all OS X native apps just crash, because they use Apple’s OS X graphics library which is hard-coded to output something along the lines: “I do not attempt to open images larger than 8192×2048 on principle”)

Please try and walk in ‘their’ shoes. They have a security hole bug. They know about it. If a criminal commits identity theft using that security hole, they will feel responsible.

The problem with developing for Mac is that it’s really expensive to get one, while you can find a Linux-capable machine in a dumpster. Additionally, OSes like FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, SuSE, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu, Hurd, Mint, etc etc, can all be installed into a Virtual Machine and you can do the port using the VM. That is not possible with OSX.

The only way to develop for OSX version X.Y is to buy a Mac that has OSX version X.Y on it. That is a large amount of money.

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