Comix: Linux Comic Viewer

[Comix][1] is an excellent piece of software that I use almost daily to view comics that I've downloaded. It fulfils a similar purpose to the Windows program CDisplay. It's simple interface and purposeful feature set really set it apart from other programs in its class.

Like other comic book viewers, Comix is intended to view sets of images and can do so if they are in a directory or a zip or tar archive (and rar if the

unrar program is installed). The usual scenario for me is reading JPEG images out of a zip file. The program handles everything fairly well but will not show any significant information if a zip file is corrupted – an error messages would be nice, rather than a blank screen. Archives can also be converted into different formats within the program.

For viewing images sets, there are the usual assortment of controls, such as forward, back, first page, jump to page, etc. To the left is a list of thumbnails for each page, with the currently viewed being highlighted, allowing for a more visual navigation method. The view can be set up to show pages fit to screen width, fit to screen height, manually zoomed or any of these combined with a two pages side-by-side mode. All of these work in the normal windowed mode or in full screen viewing. There is also a "manga mode" which shows pages in reverse order, the same way as they would be presented in a Japanese comic. I must admit that, even though I usually use Comix to read manga, I rarely use the manga mode.

Another nice feature is the magnifying glass, which is a box around the current location of the mouse pointer (which gets hidden), which shows an enlarged view of the area under it, as you would expect. This has come in handy a few times when there is especially small text and I want to read it without zooming the entire page. I did find that I needed to adjust the update interval for this as the box was lagging behind the mouse when I moved it.

On start up Comix can be set to load the last thing you were reading, at the same page. Combined with the program's built-in behaviour of automatically opening the next archive in a directory once you're done with the current one and it makes reading large sets of comics simple as you can easily stop reading and resume where you left off. It also features bookmarks which can be easily set and cleared and a library that can be used to quickly jump between volumes you want to read.

Comix does have some more advanced options such as colour adjustments, image transformations, extraction of images and detailed information about archives and images in them. The program preferences contains a great number of options that allow you to tweak the program to your liking. I did have to change a lot of these to suit my tastes but I haven't had to look in there since.

One problem with Comix is the lack of any documentation or online help. I don't really consider this to be that much of an issue as everything in the program is fairly intuitive and well labelled, with tooltips providing some extra information about various settings and so forth. Another minor issue I have is that the program doesn't seem to want to start maximised – when started up it fills the available screen area but is only resized to this position and isn't properly maximised. Seeing as I usually view comics in full screen anyway it's doesn't bother me that much.

Overall, I think Comix is an excellent example of open source software, it's fast, intuitive and allows for plenty of customisation, and I highly recommend it if you need something to view comics!