Sometimes the GIMP displays what seems like inexplicable behavior. This is usually not a bug but a misunderstanding on how to properly use the GIMP. For this reason, Chapters 1 through 5 each have a final section which addresses common problems. These are presented in the format of a FAQ (frequently asked questions); here they are for this chapter:
Nothing is wrong. You've probably loaded an indexed image (for example, a GIF format file), and most GIMP plug-ins don't work with indexed images. The solution is to convert your image to RGB format with the RGB function found in the Image:Image/Mode menu.
The GIMP XCF format should be used to save images with layers, masks, or paths (see Section 1.2). This is the only format that can save the state of your GIMP image projects. Once a project has been completed you may want to save it in another format such as JPEG, GIF, PNG, etc. For this you will need to convert the image after merging it (see Sections 2.7.1) or flattening it (see Section 2.7.2).