I found my RGB colours again

I always believed that my beloved Monitor of choice a Lenovo L220xw 22″ is the most nice and clear monitor I ever have worked with, with it’s max resolution of 1920×1200 I have just loved every time I tuned it on, that is why I have one at work and at home.

I started to play around with RAW photos, lately and that open up my eyes to a whole new world of colours, and something called colour profiles. Also I found my self using the lovely program called Darktable, there is what evil Adobe Lightroom is to Mac and Windows users to us freedom loving GNU/Linux users. A program to develop RAW pictures, and make them look damm good.

I soon realized that that I had to be sure that I saw the right colours on my monitor, as I would see on the printed versions. Okay me being a new comer to all this RAW stuff, I went for Lenovo’s homepage and downloaded the ICC file they had provided for my kind of monitor. An ICC file is loaded though the “GNOME Color Manager” program, and sets the colour profiles for a device, like a monitor, scanner and printer.

By chance, the conversation at work next day turned to the topic of monitor calibration, and I learned that we accurately had a “photo club” at work :-). They have recently purchased a monitor calibration device called a “Spider 3 Elite” a little colour measuring cam device to put on you screen and read the colours and feed them back to the system, for validation. I borrowed the “Spider 3 Elite” device and wanted to see what would happen if I hooked it up to my Laptop running Fedora 15 x86_64 and man did I get surprised, I had never seen such a crash before. The system detected the device and wanted to launch  the gnome-control-center, doing so it went in to a loop of crashing, and the Automatic Bug Reporting Tool (ABRT) went crazy. (see my bug rapport here). after recovering I went to try the same from XFce, this time the system didn’t crashed, but again nothing happened either. I started Googling around to find an answer to what have gone wrong, and if there even existed any success stories of screen calibration from GNU/Linux (GNOME). I found a bug rapport from 2011-07-07 with a person there have had the same experiences as me, also that was the bug that my ABRT had hit on submitting my bug.

I realized that if I wanted to calibrate my monitors I had to use a Fedora 14. I then went to find a Fedora 14 LiveCD in this times of Fedora 15 and 16, that is not the easiest thing to do, not if you like me tuners to the official sides like www.fedoraproject.org All I could find there was F15 and F16 Alpha stuff… (Come one a legacy download section would be nice here people) I then went goggling and found that I could download it from DK placed FTP mirror there had all the old versions of Fedora.

Also by Googling around did I find that I would need some application called ArgyllCMS and a GUI called dispcalGUI. ArgyllCMS was in the fedora repos, so that was a easy one, but the GUI was not, so I uploaded all my links to my Google docs, so I could access them from my LiveCD. I then booted my Fedora 14 LiveCD, and installed the 2 programs, and then again connected the “Spider 3 Elite” device, crossing my fingers that it would work this time… and it did. The dispcalGUI program detected a “Spider 3” and I could try to do a calibration. I first measured the Ambient light in my office from the Spider 3 device and then I adjusted my brightness and contrast by 2 numbers feed back to me though a terminal, one indicating the light my OS was sending to my monitor and another number telling me what the device measured. It was then my task to adjust brightness and contrast on my LCD to match up. Next up was the calibration it self. After 30 minutes. it had completed a series of colour changing in a 4 squared where I have placed the Spider 3 device, and it generated a CAL file and a ICC file, and also activated it, I could admittedly see a very big change in how my monitor showed colours.

It was almost to much, and I worried that the calibration had failed or given off some wrong readings. do to the drastic change. Now how would I be sure that this was the right configuration?….

With the “Spider 3 Elite” device I borrowed from work I also got a printed picture, from a company called X-Print, they are a specialised printing company, there even have a LAMBDA printer, not that I know what that is, but from what I could understand it is THE ACE of printing colours.  The idea of this photo was to go to there homepage and find the same picture, and then by holding the printed photo up to the side of your monitor, you visually could see the diversity between them. I did accentually try this before I started the calibration, and the colours was not that fare of I would say, but now after my calibration I really could see the colour simulative was BANG on.The picture looks like this:

Now not that worried any more my calibration was a disaster, I only have to get use to see the real colours of my Gnome 3 desktop, and man this is like getting a whole new theme install only that I haven’t, but now I see depths in my picture with shadows and the real colour of my applications and looking at some of the Fedora wallpapers is now just a art exhibition.

For all you eyecandy lovers, I can highly recommend trying to take a look at your monitors colours, and maybe just for a start try to get your hands on the ICC colour profile made from your monitors vendor. if not I don’t know if you could pack your monitor and take it in to the city to a photo business, and ask if you could get your screen calibrated.

Thanks for reading my blog, I hop it helps you,,,



  1. This is an amazingly helpful post, Dennis! Color management has always been voodoo to me, but I’ve recently gone dual-screen with a laptop LCD with warmer hues and an external monitor with very cold / blue-ish hues. So I was just starting to look into what I could do and then you made this post. Thank you so much. I may go on and get a Spider to do this as well.

  2. Hi Máirín
    Thanks for commenting on my post, it means a lot to me that you re-dented it with identi.ca.

    Using either the dispcalGUI or the command line tool dispercal you can easy calibrate each screen in a dual monitor setup, and give each monitor it’s own ICC file. You can then configure each screen from e.g. Gnome’s colour manager or even with dispcalGUI and make them load at login.

    Thanks again…

  3. I really enjoyed this post, especially the “examples in this post” portion which made it really easy for me to SEE what you were talking about without even having to leave the article. Thanks

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