libvips 8.13 is now done, so here’s a summary of what’s new. Check the ChangeLog if you need more details.

The headline features are a new system for blocking unsafe file formats, much better GIF handling, and a new build system. Details below!

Many thanks to remicollet, DarthSim, GavinJoyce, tintou, lovell, shado23, dloebl, tlsa, kleisauke, f1ac, richardmonette and others for their great work on this release.

Blocking of unfuzzed loaders

libvips support many image format libraries. Some of these are well tested against malicious input files, but some are not.

If you were developing a web service that used libvips to handle untrusted image files, our advice used to be to build your own libvips binary that only had support for the file types you wanted to handle (this is what projects like sharp and NetVips do). This was safe, but also hard work — it could make deployment significantly more complex for some users.

libvips 8.13 has a new feature which can block untrusted operations at runtime, and at a very low level. This means you can use any libvips binary and be confident that unfuzzed code is not being exposed to internet data.

If the environment variable VIPS_BLOCK_UNTRUSTED is set, then any operation that we’ve tagged as untrusted will be prevented from running. This should be very simple to add to existing projects.

There’s also an API which gives much finer control. For example, in Python you can write:

pyvips.operation_block_set("VipsForeignLoad", True)
pyvips.operation_block_set("VipsForeignLoadJpeg", False)

Now all operations derived from VipsForeignLoad (so all loaders) are blocked, but we’ve marked all loaders derived from VipsForeignLoadJpeg (so all the libjpeg loaders) as runnable. After these calls, libvips will only load JPEG files.

See vips_block_untrusted_set() and vips_operation_block_set() for more details.

Much better GIF save

GIF handling has been reworked again, and gifsave should now produce smaller files (sometimes much smaller) with lower CPU and memory load.

Here’s a benchmark with a short video clip:

# libvips 8.12
$ /usr/bin/time -f %M:%e vipsthumbnail 3198.gif[n=-1] -o vips-12.gif --size 224
# libvips 8.13
$ /usr/bin/time -f %M:%e vipsthumbnail 3198.gif[n=-1] -o vips-13.gif --size 224
$ ls -l vips-12.gif vips-13.gif
-rw-r--r-- 1 john john 3441032 Jun  8 16:34 vips-12.gif
-rw-r--r-- 1 john john 2487189 Jun  8 16:25 vips-13.gif

So about 7x faster and 30% smaller.

There’s a good improvement against imagemagick too:

$ /usr/bin/time -f %M:%e convert 3198.gif -resize 75% im.gif
$ ls -l im.gif vips-13.gif
-rw-rw-r-- 1 john john 3176859 Jun  8 16:26 im.gif

On this task, compared to imagemagick6, libvips is around 10x faster, needs 4x less memory, makes GIFs which are 20% smaller, and produces higher quality output.

The new GIF saver now has quite a few options to control compression, take a look at the docs.

Image resize quality improvements

Image resizing with libvips 8.12 could in some cases lose up to 0.5 pixels of detail on the image edge due to losses in the handling of intermediate values. Kleis has reworked the image resize code to retain these extra pixels in all cases, so image edges are now always complete.

It is possible that this may result in different image sizes compared with libvips 8.12.

$ vips black x.jpg 1600 1000
# libvips 8.12
$ vipsthumbnail x.jpg -s 10x
$ vipsheader tn_x.jpg
tn_x.jpg: 10x7 uchar, 1 band, b-w, jpegload
# libvips 8.13
$ vipsthumbnail x.jpg -s 10x
$ vipsheader tn_x.jpg
tn_x.jpg: 10x6 uchar, 1 band, b-w, jpegload

File format support improvements

There have been the usual range of minor improvements to file format support. Briefly:

tiffsave and dzsave to target

You can now write DeepZoom and TIFF images to the new libvips target API. This means you can write these formats directly to pipes (for example) with no need for intermediate files.

There are some complications due to the way these formats work, and you can need up to 30% of the image size in memory for extra buffering, but at least it’s possible now.

libspng save

If possible, libvips will now use the libspng library for PNG write as well as PNG read. This can produce a useful increase in PNG speed.


These now support HDR images, and the loader has a new option to disable DoS attack limits.


JXL now supports ICC profiles, and has better support for HDR images.

Other loader improvements

New meson build system

libvips has been using GNU autotools as its build system since the 1990s. It’s worked well for us, but the world is moving on and a new generation of build systems are trying hard to displace it.

We’ve settled on meson and tintou has very generously done all the work. The old autotools system is still there for this release, but it will be removed for 8.14 and meson will the only one we support.

The new build cheatsheet is:

cd libvips-x.y.x
meson setup build-dir --prefix=/aaa/bbb/ccc
cd build-dir
meson compile
meson test
meson install

The new system is a lot faster. On this PC, the autotools build system used to take 17s to configure and 6s to build libvips. Meson takes 2.8s to configure and ninja takes 4.6s to build. A four times speedup is very welcome.

The libvips README has some more notes.

General minor improvements