Foliate is a fantastic ebook reader app for Linux desktops whose streamlined, stylish interface recently caught my eye.

Personally I still find it easier to read ebooks on a dedicated e-reader device with an e-ink screen (like an Amazon Kindle) but I appreciate that there are features desktop ebook reader apps offer that a dedicated e-reading device can not.

And you’ll find many of those bespoke capabilities on offer in the ‘pages’ of Foliate, an app that pitches itself as a “simple and modern ebook viewer” for Linux desktops.

Keen to learn more?

Let’s dive in.

Foliate: Linux eBook Reader

Back in 2017 I compiled a list of the best ebook reader apps for Ubuntu desktops, highlighting the elementary OS app ‘Bookworm‘ as the best all-round ebook reader for Linux distros like Ubuntu.

Why?

Because it provides everything I need in an app of this ilk: a clean interface, focused features, and all the right options.

Admittedly, it also helps that Bookworm doubles up as an eBook manager too, something that Foliate, which I promise I will get to in a second, doesn’t have.

But for everything else? Foliate is my new favourite.

foliate ebook reader: dark mode
Dual-page view with night mode enabled

First and foremost: Foliate is an .epub ebook viewer based on the well-developed epub.js JavaScript library. It doesn’t open .pdfs, but it does support .mobi, .awz and .awz3 files.

The format focus allows Foliate to flesh out the user experience of reading .ePub, .mobi and .awx files on the Linux desktop.

Useful eBook features

Aside from offering the most essential feature in an ebook reader app IMO — making eBooks look like a book, i.e. dual-page layout — Foliate also has a vertical scrolled view, which is something many will appreciate.

You’re able to adjust the appearance of text, and a number of layout styles are included

The easy access to contents (first item in the header bar) is also something I appreciate having particularly in a desktop app, where I’m more likely to be trying to find specific passages.

Talking of finding things, Foliate has a hand “Find…” search feature that should (in theory) help you locate specific phrases, words or passages in whichever .epub book you’re reading. You can even limit search to the specific chapter you’re reading.

For the ultimate, personalised reading experience Foliate lets you adjust the appearance of text, e.g., font, font size, line-spacing, margins. There are also number of reading ‘modes’, including light, sepia, dark (pictured above), and inverted, and the options to adjust page brightness.

foliate ebook reader: notes
Handy in-app note taking, plus progress tracking

Like an great app should, Foliate keeps track of your reading progress as you progress, on a perbook basis. It also stores your bookmarks and any notes or annotations you make in a per-book data file.

You’ll find this file in the local ~/.var/app/… etc directory, allowing you to export, back up and sync your data between systems (which is fairly nifty, no?).

The core features of Foliate at a glance:

  • Two-page view and scrolled view
  • Customize font, line-spacing, margins & page brightness
  • Light, sepia, dark, and inverted mode
  • Reading progress slider
  • Chapter marks
  • Bookmarks
  • Trackpad gesture support
  • Text annotation support
  • “Find” in book search feature
  • Word lookup (Wiktionary, Wikipedia and dictionary)
  • Metadata viewer
  • Google Translate integration
  • Basic text-to-speech support

Install Foliate on Linux

So you’ve seen how Foliate looks, how it works, and how its nifty features might help you get more from your desktop reading — but how do you install the dang thing?!

Well, you have a few choices.

Foliate, like a number of leading indie apps these days, has chosen Flatpak, specifically Flathub, as it’s primary distribution method.

If you’re on Fedora, Linux Mint 19.x or any other Linux distribution that supports Flatpak apps out of the box you get to skip on over to the store page and smack the big “install” button on the listing page:

Foliate on Flathub

Prefer to install Flatpak apps from the command line? No problem. Assuming you’re all set up, just enter:

flatpak install flathub com.github.johnfactotum.Foliate

One thing I should note: this Flatpak app doesn’t appear to work well (if at all) with GTK themes other than Adwaita. Your own mileage may vary.

If you’re on Ubuntu and you don’t want to use Flatpak or Flathub you can grab an installer direct from the Foliate GitHub Releases page, linked below:

Download Foliate 1.5.3 for Ubuntu (64-bit)

If you try this app let me know what you think of it!
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#ebook #flathub apps #flatpak apps #foliate