PhotoTrove: What to Do with All Those Pictures

Theodore B. Ruegsegger

Too Many Photos…and Now Videos!

Our nice digital cameras and smart phones are so easy to use and never run out of film, and all those photos and videos pile up quickly. Lots of software tools and web services can help us share pictures and make pretty albums, but we need to be able to find them in the first place!

Here’s a way to have it all.

What Is PhotoTrove?

PhotoTrove keeps track of every photo and video in a large collection, with detailed descriptions, timestamps and locations so you can find them easily, edit them, group them, compare them, arrange them and conveniently publish them. It includes a comprehensive search tool as well as easy handoff to your favorite photo-editing tools.

PhotoTrove runs as a web application on your local network, so multiple users can work independently and simultaneously. Anyone on your network can view photo sets and albums, carry out searches and download individual photos, but only authorized users can change anything. Since all the data is in one place, it’s easy to set up automatic backups to keep it all safe.


With PhotoTrove and your favorite web browser, you can:

  • Keep track of all your photos and videos, with descriptions, timestamps and locations.

  • Edit the images and videos using your favorite tools, with special support for stitching panoramas.

  • Make up descriptive tags and attach them to any photos you wish, to enable complex searches and group actions.

  • Locate photos in your collection, searching by pretty much anything: date range, location, text in descriptions and captions, tags, etc. and then carry out group operations on all matching photos.

  • Assemble albums by selecting images from multiple photo sets and adding layout and captions.

  • Publish albums (samples here) as collections of static HTML documents that you can copy to a CD, DVD or thumbdrive or upload to a website.

System Requirements

PhotoTrove is a web application. It runs on a server, but the server can be your desktop or laptop, or it could be a virtual machine running inside a physical machine like your personal laptop. Or it could be a separate machine; computer hardware is cheap these days.

Specific requirements depend on how you wish to run PhotoTrove:

  1. To run it as a virtual machine you need only a computer with sufficient speed, memory and disk space running any of the popular operating systems. For details, see the chapter on Trovester in the User Manual.

  2. To run your own PhotoTrove directly on a machine (real or virtual):

    • That machine must run some version of Debian or Ubuntu GNU/Linux if you’re going to use EasyPhotoTrove to set it up, because that’s what EasyPhotoTrove knows how to use. If you want to set up the whole thing yourself, any recent version of GNU or Unix that supports the required packages should do.


      Another advantage of EasyPhotoTrove, which also applies to Trovester since it’s built with EasyPhotoTrove, is that you can upgrade automatically to the latest version of PhotoTrove.

    • You’ll need sufficient disk space for all the images in your collection; this can vary widely depending how many photos and videos you take and at what resolution. Say a few tens of gigabytes to get going. Be sure to allow for backups!


The PhotoTrove User Manual is available as:


This collection of program code and documentation is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.

This collection is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License along with this collection; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, 51 Franklin Street, Fifth Floor, Boston, MA 02110-1301, USA.

Contacting the Author



Theodore B. Ruegsegger Free Software Foundation Associate Member # 33