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

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

Many of which you’ll find on offer in the ‘pages’ of Foliate, which pitches itself as a “simple and modern ebook viewer” for Linux desktops.

Keen to learn more?

Let’s dive in.

Foliate is an ePub 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, or .mobi files or anything else.

Other 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 — it 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’re also able to adjust the appearance of text, e.g., font, font size, and line-spacing, and there are also number of reading ‘modes’, including light, sepia, dark (pictured above), and inverted.

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 and line-spacing
  • Light, sepia, dark, and inverted mode
  • Reading progress slider
  • Chapter marks
  • Bookmarks
  • Text annotation support
  • “Find” in book search feature
  • Dictionary lookup (powered by Wiktionary)
  • Metadata viewer

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?!

Flatpak.

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

If a Snap app, PPA, or an AppImage should pop up after I publish this, do let me know so I can add it in.

Foliate is available to install from Flathub, a Flatpak app store.

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 app doesn’t appear to work well (if at all) with GTK themes other than Adwaita. Your own mileage may vary.

What about Ubuntu?

If you’re on Ubuntu you’ll need to set-up Flatpak and Flathub before you can install this (or any other Flatpak) app. It’s not as complicated as it seems. We even wrote a quick guide walking you through it.

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