The Foliate ebook reader is one of my top Ubuntu apps. In this post I tell you more about the feature that make it so good and show how to install the app on your system.

Designed exclusively for Linux desktop, Folate is a GTK app whose back-of-the-book blurb pitches it as “simple and modern ebook viewer” for Linux desktops like Ubuntu.

But it’s so much more.

While it may be easier to read ebooks on a dedicated e-reader device (like an e-ink Amazon Kindle, Nook, etc) there are some features that an eBook viewer on a PC can offer that a dedicated e-reading device can not.

And it’s precisely those capabilities that you’ll find within the ‘pages’ of Foliate.

Foliate Ebook Reader App

Folaite’s ‘distraction free’ reading experience

When I initially compiled a list of the best ebook reader apps for Ubuntu I chose the user-friendly Bookworm client as the best all-round ebook reader for Linux.

But the moment Foliate was published that changed.

You can adjust ebook text font size, colour, style, spacing …pretty much everything

Foliate is an .epub ebook viewer based on the well-developed epub.js JavaScript library. While the app can’t open .pdf files it can open other ebook file types, including .mobi, .awz, and .awz3, and comics and magazine .cbr and .cbz files.

But the softwares primary focus is on letting you read epub files.

And things even better as you dive in in further.

Aside from offering the most essential feature in an ebook reader app IMO — display eBooks like a book with dual-page layout — Foliate also has a number of alternative reading modes (including web browser style continuous scrolling) that adapts to your needs.

The interface fades out of view to let you focus on reading (though this can be disabled). You can page through books with no on-screen controls using your keyboard arrow keys or, if you’re on a. touch device, by clicking or tapping on the left/right sides of the viewer.

Talking of finding things, Foliate has a handy “Find…” search feature that will help you locate specific phrases, words or passages in whichever ebook you’re reading. You can even limit the search to the specific chapter you’re reading.

Foliate definition look up
Dictionary integration

And if you make a lot of notes you’ll be pleased to hear you can also perform full text search for your added annotations.

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 annotation
Taking notes is easy

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?).

Core features of Foliate at a glance:

  • Distraction-free reading mode
  • Two-page view and scrolled view
  • Continuous scrolling reading mode
  • Customize font, line-spacing, margins & page brightness
  • Variety of themes, including dark mode
  • Reading progress slider
  • Chapter markers
  • Bookmarks
  • Trackpad gesture support
  • Text annotation support
  • “Find” in book search feature
  • Word lookup (Wiktionary, Wikipedia and dictionary)
  • Metadata viewer
  • Skeuomorphic ‘page shadow’ option
  • Google Translate integration

…And this feature set grows with every release.

How to Install Foliate

You’ve seen how Foliate looks, how it works, and how its nifty crop of features can help you read like a pro from the Linux desktop reading — but how do you install it?!

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

If you’re on Ubuntu (or any other Linux distro that supports Snap apps) you can install Foliate from the Snap Store:

Foliate on the Snap Store

If you’re a fan of more traditional app install methods you can make use of a new (if unofficial) Foliate PPA. This repo provides builds for the latest stable release on Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and above:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:apandada1/foliate

Followed by:

sudo apt install foliate

Summary

In short, Foliate offers everything one could need in an app of this ilk. It has a clean interface tailored to reading (not managing); a focused feature set; reams of customisation options; and a comparatively low resource footprint.

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