Monitor calibration: the dispcalGUI way

Mramshaw mentioned dispcalGUI in a comment – while I was keeping an eye on lprof to offer a GUI for monitor calibration. So today I decided it was time to check how dispcalGUI does its job. And it does it well. Kudos to dispcalGUI’s author: Florian Höch

The idea

ArgyllCMS (blog 1, 2) is a Linux / Windows / Mac OS X set of command line utilities for color management – including but not limited to monitor calibration. So dispcalGUI is a make-your-life-easier frontend to Argyll which allows monitor calibration. This is especially handy since creating a profile with Argyll involves several steps with quite a few command line options – “dispcal -v -q l -y c samsung” anyone?


dispcalGUI comes blundled in a very “windows-like” installation package (and indeed, it works on MS-Windows, MacOS X and Linux). Just download the package, extract it and go through the installation process. You will need to point it to your Argyll installation, click a few “next” buttons and you are done.

Using it

Before srtarting using dispcalGUI, you need to plug your calibrating device and make it user writable (just like with Argyll). Type lsusb in a terminal to find your device busid and deviceid and then type:

sudo chmod 777 /proc/bus/usb/busid/deviceid

That will be it for the command line.

You can now load dispcalGUI. This is how it looks:


Functionalities are the same as Argyll’s – ie quite complex. DispcalGUI has a manual well written and quoting relevant part of Argyll’s – so RTFM. Otherwise, you can just check that the right monitor / instrument are picked. Chose your monitor type (LCD or CRT) and the calibration and profile quality. Leave the rest to default. Click on calibrate and profile.

After a (relatively long) time and a couple “y” or “any key” in the terminal, you will get an icc profile which you can load with dispwin or xcalib (for screen calibration) as well as your graphic application (for profiling – if the application supports it). Check this entry if you need to know more about color management.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, means one less item on the Linux & Photography todo list.


35 Responses to Monitor calibration: the dispcalGUI way

  1. Francois says:

    Can you recommend calibration hardware that works well with Linux/Argyll ?

  2. jtrops says:

    I have been following this blog for a long time now, and it has been a wealth of information. After reading about calibration on this blog I got a colorvision spyder really cheap, and after plugging it in I found that it ID’d itself as a Spyder 2. I used Argyllcms, and Dispcalgui to calibrate my monitor, and it worked very well. With the exception of using DispcalGui, I followed the instructions on the blog.

    Thanks for all of the great work you put into this blog.

  3. I’ve been using a Spyder2, and it works pretty well. There are two versions, one far more expensive than the other, but you’re paying for the software – the hardware is identical, I believe.

  4. Martin says:

    The Pantone huey is also a pretty good deal and works fine with Argyll under Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. There are two versions but the only difference is the software, so get the cheap one.

  5. jcornuz says:

    You have a list of supported devices in Argyll’s documentation:

    Be careful that Spyder support is limited to version 1 and 2. The latest Spyder 3 does NOT work with Argyll. For a cheap solution, Huey is a safe bet, I would say.

    Take care,


  6. Bile says:

    Dear Joel,

    First of all thanks for your blog.

    I know you read French so you might be interested by the following link :

    By the way Colorhacks has also published an interesting post on that :

    Concerning supported hardware, I use the eye one display and and not any spyder since I have a wide gamut screen. It works very well with Argyll (opensuse rpm install so no need of any other hand made configuration) and Dispcal (python install).

    Does anyone have any feedback on printer profiling ?


  7. This is cool. A graphical monitor calibration tool, wow, this is something I _never_ thought I’d see on the Linux platform when I started out with Linux nine years ago and hardly could get the mouse to work! Well done!

  8. B Dion says:

    I installed Dispcalgui awhile back but have not re-calibrated my display yet. I have a question about work environment.

    I have a large east facing window in my office, (no direct reflections), and work on images during the day and at night. When would be the best time to calibrate my monitor or does it matter?


  9. Davros says:

    Francois: Reference the list Joel mentioned for sure, but also know that I used an Eye One display 2 from X-Rite just fine with dispcal (have yet to try out dispcalGUI, might try that today for my printer calibration) for monitor calibration. only problem is my monitor. 🙂

  10. Glen says:


    I use the DTP-94 which works great with ArgyllCMS and dispcalGUI.

    Available here:

    These were highly recommnded as accurate here:

    The only disadvantage I have read is that newer devices MAY actually have the accuracy to support 10 or 12 bits per channel (RGB) calibration. I don’t know if the DTP-94 can do that. Plus some of the more expensive colorimeters can also calibrate scanners and printers.


  11. Glen says:

    B Dion,

    I have my monitor profile set up so it loads from my menu since I discovered some screensavers blow away your LUT tables when they run. It’s easy for me to reload my monitor profile when I’m editing photos so I’m sure the monitor is set properly. It would be easy to have multiple profiles you can load, one for the day, and one for the night,

    Some colorimeters actually have ambient light sensors facing the user environment (the DTP-94 does not) and take readings during calibration (ArgyllCMS and dispcalGUI support this too) so I suppose the calibration would be sensitive to ambient light.


  12. B Dion says:

    Hi Glen,

    So you created a program launcher to run a script with dispwin or xcalib?

    Currently I’m running a script in .kde/autostart that runs every time I restart the desktop. As nice as some of the screen savers are, I haven’t run them in years.

    The Spider2 does not have an ambient light sensor either, thought I did notice I can plug-in a lux value in dispcalGUI.

    I’m not going to worry about it for now, but thanks for your reply.


  13. Glen says:

    B Dion,

    No, just a little script called setcolor I can run from the Accessories menu:


    # Set monitor color correction

    /usr/local/src/Argyll_V1.0.3/bin/dispwin -c -I .color/icc/lcd-t6500-b120-g2.2-f0-k0-qhh-lut-200903081334.icc
    /usr/local/src/Argyll_V1.0.3/bin/dispwin -L

    It’s easy just to run it whenever I want to be sure the LUTs are loaded.


  14. Raul says:

    FYI… I couldn’t get dispcalGUI to run on 64bit Ubuntu Based distro.

  15. alech says:

    Raul – I had the same problem (the binary just dies on me because it can find /lib/, but then I downloaded the source version, which works just fine. It does require quite an amount of dependency packages, though (but nothing that can’t be found on Ubuntu 8.10) …

  16. Raul says:

    Well I figured, I’d do it the other way, but looks like I am also unable to run dispcal…

    dispcal – Mcv fit conjgrad failed

    Haven’t found any direction online for that error.

  17. Lou says:

    Received my calibration probe today (mostly intend to use it on my mac, but I thought I’d give it a go on linux). Argyll CMS does not seem to work properly, I need to tweak my xorg config, apparently. Well, I guess this is it : if you want to use linux, get ready to get your hands dirty. And be patient !

  18. Jarle Thorsen says:

    To set the correct permissions for the device you should use “sudo chmod 777 /dev/bus/usb/busid/deviceid” not “sudo chmod 777 /proc/bus/usb/busid/deviceid” Guess it was just a typo on your part. 🙂

  19. @Francois:

    It should be duly noted that the manufacturer of the Spyder2 could be considered antagonistic toward our Free culture. See for a good summary.

    It should also be noted that there is binary blob firmware required to load that model.

    If you are looking for a better device in the equivalent price range, consider the Pantone / Gretag Macbeth Huey.

  20. Scott says:

    First, I would like to thank Joel for this blog, and also the developers of the software that make monitor calibration/profiling possible on Linux.

    I used a Pantone Huey and my LCD monitor now looks great. The only minor glitch I experienced was that my Gentoo system was not completely UTF-8 compatible, so the default profile name created by dispalGUI caused some profile install problems. So, I learned that properly configured UTF-8 is a must when using the profile names automatically generated by dipcalGUI. Manually entered profile names containing only ASCII characters work fine though.

    Hope this helps anyone else in a similar situation. Thanks to the authors of ArgyllCMS and dispcalGUI for helping me sort out the UTF-8 problem. 🙂

  21. Hehe, this is one of my favorite blogs. Keep up the good work.

  22. I calibrated with the Spyder2. I did not know what ugly default color profile that was default. After calibrating I can finally relax while reading and working with colours.

    Thanks for a good explainig for the binaries and the GUI.


  23. Chris Heien says:

    I ordered a Spyder3Express last week anticipating its incompatibility with my 64bit Arch system, only to find it IS supported in the latest Argyll 1.1.0. Profiling right now! 😀

  24. I found out about both Argyll and dispcalGUI from reading these pages. Some two weeks ago I invested in a Pantone Huey and it works like a charm together with dispcalGUI apart from three times when it refused to respond. No big deal: unplugging and re-plugging it ‘healed’ it each time.

    I short circuited the permission thing by running “sudo dispcalGUI”.

    I have fiddled a bit with the parameters governing the calibration and profiling. The manual tells you to do this and it does have a significant impact. I have now reached a stage where I am pretty happy with the result but how do I know it is accurate? How do I know the Huey is accurate? These consumer things does not come with calibration certificates, if you see what I mean.


  25. IPS says:

    I found a big list of IPS monitors here:

    Bought the HP ZR24w. Love it!

  26. It should also be noted that there is binary blob firmware required to load that model.

  27. I have a large east facing window in my office, (no direct reflections), and work on images during the day and at night. When would be the best time to calibrate my monitor or does it matter?

  28. cartier love says:

    Received my calibration probe today (mostly intend to use it on my mac, but I thought I’d give cartier love a go on linux). Argyll CMS does not seem to work properly, I need to tweak my xorg config, apparently. Well, I guess this is it : if you want to use linux, get ready to get your hands dirty. And be patient !

  29. Cartier Love says:

    Nice artic,I am agree with you

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  32. Mark says:

    Since this is an old thread, the instructions for chmod 777 etc don’t work. The directory doesn’t exist on Ubuntu 14.04+. I’ve got a Spyder5 which worked out of the box on 15.04 but my desktop is 14.04 and I can’t get dispcalgui to recognize the device. I’m in the colord group. I’ve read that you have to start dispcalgui in root but can’t figure out what the command is for dispcalgui to implement it.

  33. kenneth says:

    as i read the article, dispcal won’t work without argyll and a color profile for the monitor must be installed??

  34. chotu says:

    is eye one display 2 device is working for this?

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