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How to Enable JPEG-XL (.jxl) Image Support in Ubuntu 22.04/20.04

Want to open (or export to) .jxl files? Here’s how to enable the image format support in Ubuntu and Debian.

JPEG-XL (.jxl) is a royalty-free raster-graphics image format supports both lossy and lossless compression. It includes features such as animation, alpha channels, layers, thumbnails, and has better compression efficiency (60% improvement) comparing to JPEG.

GNOME favors JPEG-XL as background wallpaper in next version 46. But, Ubuntu now does not support the image format due to lack of a build dependency.

If you have some .jxl images stored in Ubuntu, then here’s how to make them work in image viewer, GIMP, and maybe other graphical apps.

Enable JPEG-XL Support in Debian & Ubuntu

There’s a popular free open-source libjxl library for encoding and decoding JPEG-XL in Linux.

Many Linux Distributions have made the library into system repositories. Ubuntu also has the library in system repository since Ubuntu 23.10, but built without gdk-pixbuf plugin for image loading and pixel buffer manipulation.

Thankfully, libjxl project provides official .deb packages, so far supports Debian 11 Bullseye, Debian 12 Bookworm, Debian unstable Sid, Ubuntu 22.04, and Ubuntu 20.04.

1. Download libjxl package

First, go to the project releases page via the link button below:

Under ‘Assets’ section, click “Show all xx assets” and select download jxl-debs... for your system. For Ubuntu 18.04, scroll down and select download version 0.8.2.

In case you don’t even know which system version is running, launch terminal (for Ubuntu press Ctrl+Alt+T) and run command:

lsb_release -a

For Linux Distributions based on Ubuntu or Debian, run cat /etc/os-release to tell which upstream version your system is based on.

2. Install libjxl

After downloaded the package, extract it in your file manager, finally right-click on the new generated folder and select “Open in Terminal“.

In pop-up terminal window, run ls to list all contained files, and run the command below to install all the deb packages:

sudo apt install ./*.deb

NOTE: There may be package conflicts if you installed 3rd-party libjxl as dependency, such as gThumb from this PPA. I’ve re-built the package without my personal build of libjxl.

After installed the packages, you can now re-open image viewer and/or image editors to see the magic!

GIMP can now export .jxl after this tutorial

That’s all. Enjoy!



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