The open-source community has released GIMP 2.0, a free software tool for image manipulation.

GIMP isn't new – it has been available for Linux and Unix systems since 1995, and was designed to fill the gap left by the lack of Photoshop for those platforms.

GIMP 2.0 has been in development for three years by a group of volunteers. Described by the group as the "most professional release of the GIMP ever", the developers add: "It is the first stable release that is officially supported not only on Unix-based operating systems, but also on Windows and OS X."

Open source support Web site Newsforge leader Bruce Burgess said: "When you launch version 2.0 you’ll see a new look that’s a huge improvement over the previous version’s mundane and purely functional interface. The new design not only provides a polished and comfortable feel, it is also far more intuitive and friendly than its predecessor".

This release offers an improved user interface – dialog boxes can be grouped together in one window using a tabbed interface, for example.

Supported features include channels, layers and masks, support for colour levels, curves and thresholds, and more.

Because the software is free, GIMP 2.0 can be freely distributed and modified.