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How to set up the Foliate eBook reader on Linux

A while ago, I wrote a list of some of the best eBook reader applications on Linux. Each of the items on the list is excellent, and if you’re trying to find a great app to read digital books on Linux, consult that list first.

However, when I wrote that list, I wasn’t aware of Foliate. As it turns out, the Foliate eBook reader is also a pretty useful eBook reader application for Linux users and has dozens of great features that are worth mentioning, such as split-page view, themes, and more. Here’s how to get Foliate up and running on your Linux system!

Install Foliate on Linux

Foliate is available to Linux users through various software distribution sources. Officially, developers would prefer users to install the app through Flatpak, though there’s a community build of Foliate for Arch Linux through the AUR, a Fedora team build of it for versions 29, and 30, and the source code too.

To start the installation of the Foliate eBook reader on Linux, open up a terminal window with Ctrl + Alt + T or Ctrl + Shift + T on the keyboard. Once the terminal window is open, follow the command-line instructions that correspond with the Linux distribution you use.

Arch Linux

As mentioned earlier, there is an unofficial AUR package of Foliate available to users. Still, even if it’s an unofficial AUR package, it takes directly from the source code so that you won’t be missing any features or updates.

The first step in getting Foliate on Arch Linux is to install the Trizen AUR helper. The reason Trizen is necessary is that it can auto-install mass amounts of dependencies automatically. To get Trizen, start by installing Git and Base-devel.

sudo pacman -S git base-devel

With Git and Base-devel taken care of, clone the latest AUR package of Foliate to your Linux computer.

git clone https://aur.archlinux.org/trizen.git

Move into the code folder and compile the Trizen app for Arch Linux.

cd trizen
makepkg -sri

Finally, install the Foliate app on Arch Linux with the trizen command.

trizen -S foliate


The Fedora project is known to take up open-source apps that others don’t and supporting them in their software repositories. To install it, go to your terminal window and install it with the Dnf package manager.

sudo dnf install foliate -y


Flatpak is the official distribution method for Foliate. To install the app through the Flatpak system, you must have the runtime enabled. Unsure how to enable Flatpak on your Linux PC? Follow our guide on the subject.

Once you’ve gotten the Flatpak runtime working, install the Foliate tool with the commands below.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
flatpak install flathub com.github.johnfactotum.Foliate

Source code

If you can’t run the Flatpak release of Foliate, you will need to compile the app from source. Install the dependencies on the list below on your Linux PC to get started.

  • gjs (>= 1.54.0)
  • webkit2gtk
  • libsoup
  • meson
  • gettext

After installing the dependencies, build the app on Linux with the following commands in a terminal window.

meson build --prefix=/usr
cd build
sudo ninja install

Add books to Foliate

If you’d like to add books to Foliate, start by opening the app via the app menu on your Linux desktop. Once the app opens, Foliate will show a blank screen with no books available to read.

Foliate only supports the ePub format, so, download your favorite ePub digital book files from your online library, and place them on your Linux PC. Then, go to Foliate, and click the “Open file” button in the center of the window. Then, browse your PC for an ePub book file you’d like to read.

Switching books

Foliate is a simple but elegant eBook reader for Linux. Due to its simplicity, it’s not designed for managing multiple books in a library. Instead, users need to store book files in a folder and browse for them later.

If you’ve got a book open already in Foliate and want to load another one, here’s what to do. First, find the menu button in the top-right section of Foliate and click it with the mouse. Then, find the “Open” button and click it to browse for a new book.

Change themes

Looking to change the way Foliate looks? Click the menu at the top-right section of the app. Then, look for the “Preferences” button and click on it to open the settings for Foliate.

Look for “Theme” in the app settings and click on a theme to apply it to Foliate. Alternatively, if you’re not happy with the look of the default themes, customize them by selecting the colors below the currently applied Foliate theme.

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