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How To Organize Your Family Tree On Linux With Gramps

Need to keep track of your family tree? Do it on Linux with the Gramps genealogical organization tool.

Many Linux distributions support Gramps. To install the software, follow along with the guide and enter the commands that correspond with your operating system.

Note: to use Gramps, you need to be running Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora, or OpenSUSE.


The Gramps genealogy organizational tool is available on Ubuntu, and Canonical regularly provides a very recent version of the program right in their software sources. To install it, launch a terminal window and use the Apt package manager.

sudo apt install gramps -y


Gramps is open source, so Debian users will have no issue installing it. However, the nature of Debian means that software in the main release version is slightly out of date. For average users, this may not be a huge deal. Still, if you need the latest features of Gramps, you must enable Debian Backports.

To enable Debian Backports, head over here and follow our guide. When you’ve set it up, launch a terminal and install the latest version of Gramps from the Debian Backports repo.

sudo apt-get -t stretch-backports install gramps

Arch Linux

Arch users can get Gramps on their setup by enabling the “Community” software repository. To enable it, open up a terminal and edit /etc/pacman.conf.

sudo nano /etc/pacman.conf

In the Pacman.conf configuration file, scroll till you find “Community” and remove all of the # symbols in front. Keep in mind that Community will not work unless all lines do not have the “#” sign.

Now that “Community” is set up in Pacman.conf, save the edits by pressing Ctrl + O. Exit the editor with Ctrl + O.

With the edits in place, update your repos, and re-sync them.

sudo pacman -Syy

Finish the process by installing Gramps.

sudo pacman -S gramps


Fedora is a Linux distribution that provides fairly new software to its users. The Gramps genealogical system is no different. To get it, open up a terminal window and use the DNF package management tool to install.

sudo dnf install gramps -y


OpenSUSE has the Gramps genealogical software available, and all releases have a fairly recent version. To install it, open a terminal and use the Zypper package management tool.

sudo zypper install gramps

Generic Linux

The Gramps family tree tool is one of the only programs of its kind on Linux. As a result, many Linux distributions go out of their way to ensure that the program is available. Still, not every OS has the resources to package this program, so if you’re on a lesser-known Linux distribution, you may not be able to install it through traditional methods. If this happens, it’s best to compile the software from source.

To build the software from source, you’ll first need to install the build dependencies. These dependencies are important because without them Gramps will not build. Search for the dependencies in the list below with your package manager. Keep in mind that these programs may have slightly different names.

  • gir1.2-atk-1.0
  • gir1.2-freedesktop
  • gir1.2-gdkpixbuf-2.0
  • gir1.2-gexiv2-0.10
  • gir1.2-gtk-3.0
  • gir1.2-osmgpsmap-1.0
  • gir1.2-pango-1.0
  • graphviz
  • libcdt5
  • libcgraph6
  • libgexiv2-2
  • libgcv6
  • libgvpr2
  • libosmgpsmap-1.0
  • libpathplan4
  • python3-bsddb3
  • python3-cairo
  • python3-gi-cairo
  • python3-icu
  • python3.5
  • python3.5-minimal
  • git

With all of the dependencies taken care of, use the Git tool to obtain the latest version of the Gramps source code.

git clone https://github.com/gramps-project/gramps.git Gramps

Using the CD command, move the terminal into the source code folder.

cd Gramps

Build the tool with:

python setup.py build

Using Gramps

The Gramps tool doesn’t do any genealogical scanning or anything of the sort. It is an organizational tool and will aid in research. New to genealogical research? Before using this tool, gather all of the information you have on your family members. Not sure where to look? If you’re an American, try the US Govt genealogy page. Not American? Try FindMyPast.

To start using Gramps, launch the program. When the program opens, a startup page appears. Click “New Tree” to start your family tree. Be sure to give it an appropriate name.

Adding People

The core to the Gramps software is adding individual family members. To do this, click “People” on the sidebar. From there, click the + button. Clicking + brings up a “Person” window.

Fill out all of the necessary information for the person. Be sure to repeat this process for as many in your family as possible. As you add more people to Gramps, your family tree will grow.


To assign a relationship to a person in the Gramps tool, highlight a person in the “people” section, then click on the “relationships” button on the side.

In the relationships area, click the “add new set of parents” button. This will allow you to assign parents to the person selected. Alternatively, add a person as a child by selecting the “add person as a child” button.


Siblings are an important aspect of the “relationships” feature in Gramps. Without them, you won’t be able to add Aunts, Uncles or Brothers and Sisters to your tree.

To add a sibling, select a person under the “people” section, then go to the “relationships” section.

Under relationships, look at the readout of the person. Look for the “siblings” menu, and click the + button to add a new sibling for that person.

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