Have you heard of Foliate ebook reader? It’s one of the best Ubuntu apps available. In this post we look at the features it offers and show you how to install Foliate on Ubuntu so you can try it out for yourself.

Foliate is a GTK app for Linux desktops (though it will work on Linux phones like the PinePhone too) whose back-of-the-book blurb described it as a “simple and modern ebook viewer”.

But it’s so much more than that.

Most of probably prefer to read ebooks on an e-reader device like an Amazon Kindle or a Nook. But there are features that an eBook viewer for your PC can offer that a dedicated ebook reader can’t.

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

Foliate Ebook Reader App

Folaite’s ‘distraction free’ reading experience

In our (now outdated) list of the best ebook reader apps for Ubuntu I picked Bookworm client as the best all-round ebook reader for Linux.

But the second Foliate was released — or should that be 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.

It can open a slew of common ebook file formats including .mobi, .awz, and .awz3, as well as comics and magazine .cbr and .cbz files.

Foliate even makes it easy to find and download free ebooks from inside of the app thanks to its OPDS integration. OPDS is a “feed” protocol used by free ebook services like Gutenberg Project, Standard Ebooks, and Feedbooks.

The software’s main focus is to open and read .epub files.

First up, Foliate offers the most essential feature in an ebook reader app for a PC (in my opinion): the option to display eBooks like a book, i.e. with dual-page layout:

Foliate has a slew of features

Foliate has several other reading modes, including web browser style continuous scrolling, so that it can adapts to your needs depending on what you’re reading.

A unique touch: the “interface” elements fade from view so that you can focus entirely reading (this behaviour be disabled). It also lets you page through books 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 — with no on-screen controls popping up and fading away again.

Foliate has a powerful search feature that can locate specific phrases, words or passages in whatever e-book you’re reading. You can even limit the search to a specific chapter to find things even faster.

Foliate definition look up
Dictionary integration

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 what Foliate look like, how it works, and why its carefully curated crop of features help you read like a pro. Next question is: how do you install it?

Well, you have a few choices.

Foliate is available to install from Flathub as a Flatpak app. We have a guide on how to install Flatpak on Ubuntu and install apps from Flathub if you need help in that area:

Foliate on Flathub

Foliate is also available to install from the Snap Store:

Foliate on the Snap Store

Prefer more traditional app install methods? You can install Foliate from a PPA. This unofficial repo provides builds of the latest stable release for 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