Peter,

The "computer speak" that surrounds GIMP mostly comes from its background in
the Linux (Unix) world.
Previously one had to build (compile) their own system, but those systems
have matured (by using package management systems).
Currently there is a multitude of flavours (distributions) to suit
everyone's need.

For years there is also a GIMP version for Windows, so do not need to
install another operating system (although I still encourage everyone to do
so ;-).
I think the people on the online forums and mailing lists can certainly help
you to get the best out of this software.

GIMP is generally seen as the free Photoshop clone. It takes some time to
get used to it, but once you have this knowledge you can continue using it.
Future upgrades of GIMP remain free, so you can use what other people have
already made available.

GIMP currently has some awesome scripts and plugins to help you achieve
results.
If you can provide some examples of what you would like to achieve, then
people on this list can provide samples of scripts/plugins that you can use
for it.

BTW, I once wrote this article about getting started with GIMP:
http://weisbeek.freewebhostx.com/gimp/
With GIMP 2.6 it is already outdated and needs upgrading. but you can still
learn from it the basics of working with GIMP.

Kind regards,

Martijn
http://gimp.startpagina.nl
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