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What is the fastest / most responsive image viewer?

I'm looking for a program that is responsive and opens large .jpgs fast - progressively and/or by cleverly loading only parts it will render. A 6 MB picture has a resolution of 4000x3000, while my eeePC only has 1024x600, so I won't see a lot of the pixels anyway. Another technique is to cache pictures in the background while I'm viewing the first. A lot of programs on Windows do stuff like that, is there anything you can recommend for an eeePC running Ubuntu?

Context: I recently switched to XFCE to revive my eeePC (as Gnome Shell and Unity are somewhat slow on it). I'm generally satisfied as it runs pretty snappy, and I can get work done on the go. However, I'd like to organize some fotos that I have, and all the image viewers I tried are too slow. For example, Ristretto, XFCE's lean image viewer, takes about a second to open a picture of 1.8 MB (5 seconds for a 6 MB picture), and freezes in that time.

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People that can add tags: Maybe you should consider a low-end tag for questions about running Ubuntu on low-end or older hardware? (Alternatively we could have a tag concerning lean and fast setups of Ubuntu.) –  jdm Jan 7 '13 at 13:49
I'm not having problems with the loading time of the applications, but rather with the loading time of the images. Eye of Gnome, Shotwell, Ristretto, GPicView, all load fast enough and their interface works fine. I can even run Digikam, which has a long startup time but once loaded is OK. I'm looking mainly for something that lets me switch quickly between large images, not necessarily for a minimal GUI. –  jdm Jan 7 '13 at 21:10
I see what you mean, though in my answer I do mention that you can flick between very high resolution images in slideshow mode with feh much quicker than gthumb, etc. Loading of the images is the focus in my answer below; ignore the comment I made above about loading times of the programs. –  user76204 Jan 7 '13 at 21:18
Please jdm, mark one of the answers as accepted if you find some of them useful. –  Lucio Feb 4 at 19:09
There is a rather small number of actually different free jpeg decoder implementations out there. I'm guessing that most image viewers use the standard libjpeg6 library, which is included by default by pretty much all Linux distributions and was last updated back in 1998. That code is just the JPEG group's free reference code. Viewers that embed their own decoder probably also just use something based on the reference implementation. So, speed differences will be based on how efficiently the app handles the pixels after they come out of decoder and if they do pre-fetching. –  Roger Dahl Nov 3 at 4:17

3 Answers 3


I'll recommend to you this Simple and Fast image viewer.

As you say that you computer is not a super fast calculator you should look for software with a few functions (the fewest possible), and this software meets this requirement, see the next screen-shoot and you will notice it.


You can install it through the Software-Center.

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@jdm I'm hoping that this software works well with your computer. Please, let me know the performance that you get. –  Lucio Jan 7 '13 at 15:22
Does it do image pre-fetching? –  Flimm Jan 7 '13 at 21:04
@Flimm I couldn't understand you. What do you mean with prefetching? See the image before open it (as mouse-over)? –  Lucio Jan 7 '13 at 21:09
I mean: does it load the next image in the slideshow into RAM, before actually displaying it? This makes displaying the next image instantaneous (at least when you've spent a couple of seconds viewing the current image). –  Flimm Jan 7 '13 at 21:12
Just installed it and it is exactly what I was looking for. Now I am able to quickly open images from the command line! thanks –  lpanebr Mar 21 '13 at 19:40

For sheer speed, feh is the most responsive image viewer you'll ever come across; it might take a bit of getting used to as it is managed from the command line. However, you can add various feh commands as custom actions to filemanagers such as Nautilus and Thunar so that you can activate feh via the context menu when browsing your files.

On the man page it is noted that:

Feh is a mode-based image viewer. It is especially aimed at commandline users who need a fast image viewer without huge GUI dependencies, though it can also be started by (graphical) file managers to view an image. It supports filelists, various image sorting modes, image captions and more... Configurable keyboard shortcuts are used to control it.

Some examples of usage:

Feh operates in various modes such as slideshow, montage, index, and thumbnail, although you can of course view pictures individually, and also save the results of the index or thumbnail viewing to file.

All the following examples assume you use terminal to cd to the folder containing the pictures first:

1) To start a fullscreen slideshow, and for it to display all the loadable pictures in the folder with a 3 second gap and then exit, you could run:

feh -F -D 3 --cycle-once *

You can use your mouse scrollwheel to flick back and forth through the pictures while the slideshow is running. Even with high resolution pictures (5-6 mb each), you can flick through the pictures incredibly quickly.

You could also add this command, with slight modification, as a 'custom' action, context menu item in a file manager such as Thunar (feh -F -D 3 --cycle-once %F): see my answer here regarding Thunar custom actions.

Note: when not running in fullscreen mode (-F), you may need to supply the --scale-down command switch so the pictures fill your desktop, but not display at their actual size (which could be 4000x3000 and would not fit the screen).

feh --scale-down picture.jpg

Hence your custom 'open-with' command/launcher should use this --scale-down option, for the times you want to view individual pictures.

2) In the case of creating an index print and saving to file you could use the following command:

feh -I --preload -o index.png

3) You can also use the thumbnail option (-t), which is like the previous command, but allows you to click the thumbnails from the created file:

feh -t --preload --scale-down -o thumbprint.png

You can do a lot more with feh and there are many more options to experiment with, so for more information, please see man feh and the Ubuntu manpages online.

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Does it do image pre-fetching? –  Flimm Jan 7 '13 at 21:05
@Flimm I'm not sure, however, the --preload switch above is just about eliminating non image types when collating an index or thumbnail print. –  user76204 Jan 7 '13 at 21:30

The fastest image viewer by far has been Viewnior for me. You will have to compile it yourself as there are no precompiled packages nor PPAs out there. Here's a tutorial on compiling Viewnior from source. Small tip: Instead of sudo make install install checkinstall first and build your own package with:

sudo checkinstall
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The fastest image viewer by far has been Viewnior for me And what computer do you have? –  Lucio Jan 8 '13 at 18:42
@Lucio Standard Core i5 Notebook with Ubuntu 12.04LTS. Don't see how my computer setup would be relevant. Performance differences should be visible across the borders. Viewnior also comes with a lot more features. You should try it out. –  Glutanimate Jan 8 '13 at 19:33
Yes, I know, it is a excellent software. But I was referring that this image viewer is too good for the OP's computer (high resources requirement). Also, I think that any image viewer will be really fast with that CPU, you computer is great! –  Lucio Jan 8 '13 at 19:41
Ah, you're right of course. I had overlooked that the OP is sporting an EEE PC. I'm afraid I don't know if Viewnior is lightweight enough for that system. But it won't hurt to try it out, either. As to the CPU I agree. It really is a great system. Still, I do see performance differences between EOG and gpicview/Viewnior. (EOG also has a bug with supersampling/downscaling that makes high resolution pictures look ugly when zoomed out. That's what brought me to Viewnior initially.) –  Glutanimate Jan 9 '13 at 5:30

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