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Looking for Some Good Note Taking Apps on Linux? Here are the Best Notes Apps we Found for You

Friday 29th of May 2020 06:32:31 AM

No matter what you do — taking notes is always a good habit. Yes, there are a lot of note taking apps to help you achieve that. But, what about some open-source note taking apps for Linux?

Fret not, you don’t need to endlessly search the Internet to find the best note taking app for Linux. Here, I’ve picked some of the most impressive open-source note taking apps available.

Best Note Taking Apps for Linux

Do note that this list is in no particular order of ranking.

1. Joplin

Key Features:

  • Markdown support
  • Support for attachments
  • Encryption support
  • Cross-platform including Android app

Joplin is an impressive free open-source note taking app that supports encryption. With the features offered, it’s also one of the best Evernote alternatives out there. In fact, I moved from Evernote to Joplin just because of the features offered.

You can choose to add to-do lists, plain notes, or use it as a markdown editor to write something. It’s available for Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. You can also choose to sync your notes using Dropbox, OneDrive, NextCloud or WebDAV.

If you’re curious, you can read our detailed article on Joplin to know more about it.

How to install it?

You get an AppImage file to install Joplin. I’ve tried it on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and it works as expected. To look for the file, you can head to its official website or explore their GitHub page.

In case you don’t know how to install it, follow our guide on using AppImage files to get started.

In either case, if you want to use the terminal, you can type the command below to install it through a script (which also adds a desktop icon in the process):

wget -O - | bash Joplin 2. Simplenote

Key Features:

  • Markdown support
  • Simple user interface
  • Easily sync using your Simplenote account
  • 32-bit package available
  • Cross-platform including mobile apps

As the name suggests, it is a simple free and open-source note taking app.

Developed by Automattic (the company behind WordPress), Simplenote lets you seamlessly sync your notes across multiple devices. It supports Android, iOS, Windows, Linux, and macOS as well.

Unlike some others, you will notice that the interface is dead simple and may not offer a bunch of features. However, you get the ability to add tags to your notes.

How to install it?

It offers .deb / .rpm packages along with an AppImage file. You can find the files in its GitHub releases section.

Simplenote 3. Laverna

Note: This isn’t actively developed anymore — but it still works as expected.

Key Features:

  • Markdown support
  • Encryption support
  • Sync support

Laverna is an interesting open-source note taking application that also offers encryption (which is optional).

You can use it as a web-based note taking app or as something on your computer. It’s available for Linux, Mac, and Windows as well.

While it features all the basic functionalities for a note taking app in addition to the encryption support, you don’t get a mobile app to use. So, this is something that you can use only if you’re a desktop user and get most of the things done on a web browser.

How to install it?

It provides a zip file which is available on its official website. Once you download it, you need to extract it and launch the executable file to get started.

Laverna 4. Standard Notes

Key Features:

  • Markdown support
  • Encryption support
  • Sync support
  • Version history of notes (paid plan)
  • Cross-platform including mobile apps
  • 32-bit package offered
  • Offers premium options

Yet another open-source note taking app that offers encryption for your notes and attachments.

Unlike Laverna, Standard Notes is being actively developed. While it offers a great deal of features, some of them are limited to paid subscribers as “extended features” or extensions which is on the expensive side (for monthly subscription). You can also refer to our separate article on Standard Notes to learn more about it.

Overall, you get the markdown support, ability to encrypt attachments and notes, version history, backup support (to OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.) and more such useful features.

How to install it?

It offers an AppImage file to install it on your Linux distro. You just need to head to its official website to download it. In case you don’t know how to use the file, refer to our AppImage guide.

For other available packages or source, you can refer to their GitHub page.

Standard Notes 5. Boost Note

Key Features:

  • Markdown support
  • Suitable for developers as well
  • Cross-platform

Boost Note is a useful note taking app for programmers using Linux. You can write your codes and also use it to write notes, documentations, and much more.

It offers a clean and intuitive user interface and offers all the basic features for a note taking app on Linux.

How to install it?

You can opt for the .deb file available for Ubuntu on its official website. If you want to try it on other Linux distributions, you will also find an AppImage file to get started.

If you’re curious, you can also check out their GitHub page to explore more about it or fork it.

Boost Note 6. Tomboy Notes (Next Generation)

Key Features:

  • Lightweight note taking app
  • Sync support
  • Cross-platform

How about a lightweight and dead simple note-taking app?

Well, you might be aware of the old Tomboy note taking app which is no longer developed. Fortunately, there’s a next-generation version of the Tomboy notes. You can configure the path to store notes and get started taking notes quickly.

The app is merely ~2 MB to download. So, if you were looking for a lightweight solution — this is it. It may not be available for smartphones — but you can surely use it on Windows, Linux, and macOS.

How to install it?

You can find .deb / .rpm and other packages in their GitHub releases section. For other Linux distros, you can follow documentations in their GitHub page to know more about it.

Tomboy Notes NG 7. RedNoteBook

Key Features:

  • Traditional Journal-style note taking app
  • Templates available
  • Offline-use

RedNoteBook should be a good choice for users who wanted an offline note taking app on Linux.

Yes, it does not support synchronization and if you’re someone who doesn’t want the sync feature, RedNoteBook should be a traditional-style note taking app with a sidebar for calendar.

It’s mostly tailored for users who like to have an offline journal. It also provides a couple of templates for you to make it easy creating certain notes.

How to install it?

If you’re using Ubuntu (or any other Ubuntu-based distro), you can install it via PPA. Here’s what you have to type in your terminal to install it:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:rednotebook/stable sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install rednotebook

For all other Linux distributions, you can get the Flatpak package.

RedNotebook 8. TagSpaces

Key Features:

  • Rich user interface
  • Supports managing documents
  • Sync support
  • Offers premium options

TagSpaces is a beautiful note taking app available for Linux. Not just limited to creating notes, but you can manage photos and other documents as well.

Unlike some other note taking apps available, it doesn’t offer encryption. So, you can try tools like Syncthing to sync your data safely along with the support Dropbox and Nextcloud.

You can also opt for its premium plans if you want special features and support.

How to install it?

You can find the .deb file and an AppImage file in their GitHub releases section to install it. In either case, you can build it as well.

TagSpaces 9. Trilium Notes

Key Features:

  • Hierarchical note taking app
  • Encryption supported
  • Sync support

Trilium Notes is not just another note taking app, it’s a hierarchical note taking application with focus on building personal knowledge bases.

Yes, you can use it for common use as well — but it’s tailored for specific users who want the ability to manage the notes in a hierarchical fashion.

I haven’t used this personally — except for testing it. Feel free to try it out and explore more.

How to install it?

Simply head to its GitHub releases section and grab the .deb file to install it on Ubuntu. If you’re looking for other Linux distros, you can build it from source or download and extract the zip file as well.

Trilium Notes Wrapping Up

That concludes my recommendation for note taking apps on Linux. I have used plenty of them and currently settled for Simplenote for quick notes and Joplin for collection of notes in chapters.

Do you know some other notes apps available for Linux that you think should be included in this list? Why not let us know in the comment section?

Which note taking application do you prefer? I am curious to know what you normally look for in the best note taking application on Linux.

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Beaker Browser 1.0 Beta: One Step Forward and Two Steps Back

Thursday 28th of May 2020 03:43:08 AM

I recently reviewed the Beaker Browser. About a week after that review was published, the devs released Beaker 1.0 Beta. And that changes almost everything I had observed in the previous article.

This made me do an entire article on the new Beaker Browser.Here’s what’s been changed!

No more Dat, Beaker now uses Hypercore protocol

One of the most significant changes to Beaker is the introduction of a new protocol. Up to now, Beaker has used the Dat protocol to distribute content. Beta 1.0 replaces Dat with Hypercore.

One of the components is Hyperdrive version 10, which was released the same days as Beaker. Hyperdrive is “a POSIX-like filesystem implementation, written in Node.js, that’s designed to be the storage layer for fast, scalable, and secure peer-to-peer applications.”

Like BitTorrent, Hyperdrive can be used to share a large collection of files. However, unlike BitTorrent, the contents can be modified.

Switching to the new protocol brings the following changes:

  • Performance is now vastly superior thanks to new data structures.
  • Connection-reliability has improved thanks to a switch to a hole-punching DHT.
  • A new “mounts” feature for composing multiple Hyperdrives into a single hierarchy.

Since Beaker switched over to a new protocol, all previously created websites don’t work anymore. They did include a tool to convert sites from Dat to Hypercore. I tried it on a couple of one-page sites and it failed. It only created a new site that was totally empty of content.

New Beaker-website creating tools

The Beaker devs introduced several new tools to make editing easier. Now when you edit or create a site, you will get a split-screen view with a code editor on the left and a preview window on the right. The preview is updated whenever you save your work.

Beaker Site Editing

Besides the editor you can also open a file manager to import and manage files and images. They also included a terminal application called webterm. This terminal can only interact with the contents of the site you are working on, but it is still pretty cool. webterm only comes with 10 simple commands. If you are adventurous you can write your own commands for it, using Javascript.

You can pop out each of these tools into their own window. If you have all three open, the left-hand panel can get crowded very quickly.

You can see more information about the release here

Final thoughts on the Beaker Browser 1.0 beta release

When I saw the announcement for Beaker Browser 1.0 Beta, I was hopeful that some of the complaints I had in the review would be fixed. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen.

My biggest problem with Beaker Browser was that it was hard to find dat powered content. In the previous version, there was a page with a list of about a dozen projects running on the Dat protocol, but that was it.

If you dig around on the new version, you can find a list of people who have profiles created on Hypercore. Unfortunately, most of those pages are either blank or something someone quickly threw together. I imagine that this will change with the final version of 1.0 is released.

Beaker User Directory

I did enjoy the editing tools. It made it very easy to slap together a quick webpage with a couple of lines of Markdown. I did create a site, but I’m not going to leave Beaker Browser running 24/7 to seed it. There currently isn’t any other way to do it.

What are your thoughts on the Beaker Browser? What are your thoughts on the peer-to-peer web? Please let us know in the comments below.

If you found this article interesting, please take a minute to share it on social media, Hacker News, or Reddit.

Open Source YouTube Alternative PeerTube Needs Your Support to Launch Version 3

Wednesday 27th of May 2020 02:13:36 PM

PeerTube (developed by Framasoft) is a free and open-source decentralized alternative to YouTube somewhat like LBRY. As the name suggests, it relies on peer-to-peer connections to operate the video hosting services. The p2p can be disabled by the users and instance admins when needed.

You can also choose to self-host your instance and also have access to videos from other instances (a federated network, just like Mastodon).

It is being actively developed for a few years now. And, to take it up a notch, they have decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign for the next major release.

The funding campaign will help them develop v3.0 of PeerTube with some amazing key features planned for the release this fall.

PeerTube Instance Example PeerTube: Brief Overview

In addition to what I just mentioned above, PeerTube is a fully-functional peer to peer video platform. The best thing about it is — it’s open-source and free. So, you can check them out on GitHub if you want.

You can watch their official video here:

Note: You need to be cautious about your IP address if you have concerns about that on PeerTube (try using one of the best VPNs available).

PeerTube’s Crowdfunding Campaign For v3 Launch

You’ll be excited to know that the crowdfunding campaign of €60,000 already managed to get 10,000 Euros on Day 1 (at the time of writing this).

Now, coming to the details. The campaign aims to focus on gathering funds for the next 6 months of development for a v3 release planned for November 2020. It looks like a lot of work for a single full-time developer — but no matter whether they reach the funding goal, they intend to release the v3 with the existing funds they have.

In their announcement post, PeerTube team mentioned:

We feel like we need to develop it, that we have to. Imposing a condition stating « if we do not get our 60,000€, then there will not be a v3 » here, would be a lie, marketing manipulation : this is not the kind of relation we want to maintain with you.

Next, let’s talk about the new features they’ve planned to introduced in the next 6 months:

  • Upon reaching the €10,000 goal, they plan to work on introducing a globalized video index to make it easier to search for videos across multiple instances.
  • With 20,000 goal, PeerTube will dedicate one month on improving the moderation tools to make the best out of it.
  • With 40,000 goal, they would work on the UX/UI of playlists. So, it will look better when you try to embed a playlist. In addition to this, the plugin system will be improved to make it easier to contribute to PeerTube’s code.
  • With the end of the campaign reaching 60,000 goal, PeerTube’s live-streaming feature will be introduced.

You can also find the details of their roadmap on their site.

Wrapping Up

The ability to have a global inter-connected video index among multiple instances is something that was needed and it will also allow you to configure your own index.

The content moderation tool improvement is also a huge deal because it’s not that easy to manage a decentralized network of video hosting services. While they aim to prevent censorship, a strict moderation is required to make PeerTube a comfortable place to watch videos.

Even though I’m not sure about how useful PeerTube’s live-streaming feature will be, at launch. It is going to be something exciting to keep an eye out for.

We at It’s FOSS made a token donation of 25 Euro. I would also encourage you to donate and help this open source achieve their financial goal for version 3 development.

Support PeerTube

Getting Started With Nano Text Editor [Beginner’s Guide]

Wednesday 27th of May 2020 09:20:41 AM

Nano is the default terminal-based text editor in Ubuntu and many other Linux distributions. Though it is less complicated to use than the likes of Vim and Emacs, it doesn’t mean Nano cannot be overwhelming to use.

In this beginner’s guide, I’ll show you how to use the Nano text editor. I am also going to include a downloadable PDF cheat sheet at the end of the article so that you can refer to it for practicing and mastering Nano editor commands.

If you are just interested in a quick summary of Nano keyboard shortcuts, please expand the next section.

Essential Nano keyboard shortcuts (click to expand) ShortcutDescriptionnano filenameOpen file for editing in NanoArrow keysMove cursor up, down, left and rightCtrl+A, Ctrl+EMove cursor to start and end of the lineCtrl+Y/Ctrl+VMove page up and downCtrl+_Move cursor to a certain locationAlt+A and then use arrow keySet a marker and select textAlt+6Copy the selected textCtrl+KCut the selected textCtrl+UPaste the selected textCtrl+6Cancel the selectionCtrl+KCut/delete entire lineAlt+UUndo last actionAlt+ERedo last actionCtrl+W, Alt+WSearch for text, move to next matchCtrl+\Search and replaceCtrl+OSave the modificationCtrl+XExit the editor How to use Nano text editor

I presume that you have Nano editor installed on your system already. If not, please your distribution’s package manager to install it.

Getting familiar with the Nano editor interface

If you’ve ever used Vim or Emacs, you’ll notice that using Nano is a lot simpler. You can start writing or editing text straightaway.

Nano editor also shows important keyboard shortcuts you need to use for editing at the bottom of the editor. This way you won’t get stuck at exiting the editor like Vim.

The wider your terminal window, the more shortcuts it shows.

Nano Editor Interface

You should get familiar with the symbols in Nano.

  • The caret symbol (^) means Ctrl key
  • The M character mean the Alt key

When it says “^X Exit”, it means to use Ctrl+X keys to exit the editor. When it says “M-U Undo”, it means use Alt+U key to undo your last action.

Open or create a file for editing in Nano

You can open a file for editing in Nano like this:

nano my_file

If the file doesn’t exist, it will still open the editor and when you exit, you’ll have the option for saving the text to my_file.

You may also open a new file without any name (like new document) with Nano like this:

nano Basic editing

You can start writing or modifying the text straightaway in Nano. There are no special insert mode or anything of that sort. It is almost like using a regular text editor, at least for writing and editing.

As soon as you modify anything in the file, you’ll notice that it reflects this information on the editor.

Nothing is saved immediately to the file automatically unless you explicitly do so. When you exit the editor using Ctrl+X keyboard shortcut, you’ll be asked whether you want to save your modified text to the file or not.

Moving around in the editor

Mouse click doesn’t work here. Use the arrow keys to move up and down, left and right.

You can use the Home key or Ctrl+A to move to the beginning of a line and End key or Ctrl+E to move to the end of a line. Ctrl+Y/Page Up and Ctrl+V/Page Down keys can be used to scroll by pages.

If you want to go a specific location like last line, first line, to a certain text, use Ctrl+_ key combination. This will show you some options you can use at the bottom of the editor.

Jump to a specific line in Nano Cut, copy and paste in Nano editor

If you don’t want to spend too much time remembering the shortcuts, use mouse.

Select a text with mouse and then use the right click menu to copy the text. You may also use the Ctrl+Shift+C keyboard shortcut in Ubuntu terminal. Similarly, you can use the right click and select paste from the menu or use the Ctrl+Shift+V key combination.

Nano specific shortcuts for copy and pasting

Nano also provides its own shortcuts for cutting and pasting text but that could become confusing for beginners.

Move your cursor to the beginning of the text you want to copy. Press Alt+A to set a marker. Now use the arrow keys to highlight the selection. Once you have selected the desired text, you can Alt+6 key to copy the selected text or use Ctrl+K to cut the selected text. Use Ctrl+6 to cancel the selection.

Once you have copied or cut the selected text, you can use Ctrl+U to paste it.

Delete text or lines in Nano

There is no dedicated option for deletion in Nano. You may use the Backspace or Delete key to delete one character at a time. Press them repeatedly or hold them to delete multiple characters.

You can also use the Ctrl+K keys that cuts the entire line. If you don’t paste it anywhere, it’s as good as deleting a line.

If you want to delete multiple lines, you may use Ctrl+K on all of them one by one.

Another option is to use the marker (Ctrl+a). Set the marker and move the arrow to select a portion of text. Use Ctrl+K to cut the text. No need to paste it and the selected text will be deleted (in a way).

Undo or redo your last action

Cut the wrong line? Pasted the wrong text selection? It’s easy to make such silly mistakes and it’s easy to correct those silly mistakes.

You can undo and redo your last actions using:

  • Alt+U : Undo
  • Alt +E : Redo

You can repeat these key combinations to undo or redo multiple times.

Search and replace

If you want to search for a certain text, use Ctrl+W and then enter the term you want to search and press enter. The cursor will move to the first match. To go to the next match, use Alt+W keys.

By default, the search is case-insensitive. You can also use regex for the search terms.

If you want to replace the searched term, use Ctr+\ keys and then enter the search term and press enter key. Next it will ask for the term you want to replace the searched items with.

The cursor will move to the first match and Nano will ask for your conformation for replacing the matched text. Use Y or N to confirm or deny respectively. Using either of Y or N will move to the next match. You may also use A to replace all matches.

Save your file while editing (without exiting)

In a graphical editor, you are probable used to of saving your changes from time to time. In Nano, you can use Ctrl+O to save your changes you made to the file. It also works with a new, unnamed file.

Nano actually shows this keyboard shortcut at the bottom but it’s not obvious. It says “^O Write Out” which actually means to use Ctrl+O (it is letter O, not number zero) to save your current work. Not everyone can figure that out.

In a graphical text editor, you probably use Ctrl+S to save your changes. Old habits die hard but it could cause trouble. Out of habit, if you accidentally press Ctrl+S to save your file, you’ll notice that the terminal freezes and you can do nothing.

If you accidentally press Ctrl+S press Ctrl+Q nothing can be more scary than a frozen terminal and losing the work.

Save and exit Nano editor

To exit the editor, press Ctrl+X keys. When you do that, it will give you the option to save the file, or discard the file or cancel the exit process.

If you want to save the modified file as a new file (save as function in usual editors), you can do that as well. When you press Ctrl+X to exit and then Y to save the changes, it gives the option to which file it should save the changes. You can change the file name at this point.

You’ll need to have ‘write permission’ on the file you are editing if you want to save the modifications to the file.

Forgot keyboard shortcut? Use help

Like any other terminal based text editor, Nano relies heavily on keyboard shortcuts. Though it displays several useful shortcuts on the bottom of the editor, you cannot see all of them.

It is not possible to remember all the shortcuts, specially in the beginning. What you can do is to use the Ctrl+G keys to bring up the detailed help menu. The help menu lists all the keyboard shortcuts.

Always look at the bottom of the Nano editor

If you are using Nano, you’ll notice that it displays important information at the bottom. This includes the keyboard shortcuts that will be used in the scenario. It also shows the last action you performed.

If you get too comfortable with Nano, you can get more screen for editing the text by disabling the shortcuts displayed at the bottom. You can use Alt+X keys for that. I don’t recommend doing it, to be honest. Pressing Alt+X brings the shortcut display back.

Download Nano cheatsheet [PDF]

There are a lot more shortcuts and editing options in Nano. I am not going to overwhelm you by mentioning them all.

Here’s a quick summary of the important Nano keyboard shortcuts you should rememeber. Download link is under the image.

Download Nano Cheat Sheet (free PDF)

You can download the cheatsheet, print it and keep at your desk. It will help you in remembering and mastering the shortcuts.

I hope you find this beginner’s guide to Nano text editor helpful. If you liked it, please share it on Reddit, Hacker News or in various Linux forums you frequently visit.

I welcome your questions and suggestions.

How to Format a USB Disk as exFAT on Linux [Graphically and Command Line]

Tuesday 26th of May 2020 10:47:06 AM

Brief: This tutorial teaches you how to format a USB disk in exFAT format on Linux systems. Both GUI and command line methods have been discussed.

For a long time FAT has been the default choice of filesystem for formatting disks. It is compatible with pretty much all the major operating systems.

The one major problem with FAT filesystem is that you cannot transfer a file larger than 4 GB. This means even if your USB disk has 32 GB of free space, if you try to transfer a ISO image or some other file greater than 4 GB in size, the transfer will fail.

This creates a problem in situation like when you are creating a bootable USB of Windows in Linux. You cannot use NTFS and FAT filesystem has that 4 GB size restrictions.

To overcome the limitations of FAT filesystem, Microsoft came up with exFAT filesystem. And in this tutorial, I’ll show you how to format a USB disk in exFAT filesystem.


Starting Linux kernel 5.4, exFAT filesystem support is enabled in Linux kernel itself. Check which Linux kernel version you are running. If it is kernel 5.4 or higher, you should be fine.

Otherwise, you’ll have to enable exFAT support explicitly. In Ubuntu-based distributions, you can use these packages for this purpose:

sudo apt install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

Method 1: Format disk as exFAT using GNOME Disks tool

Formatting a drive using GNOME Disks is a straightforward job. It comes preinstalled in a number of Linux distributions.

Plug in your external USB disk. Now, look for Disks in menu and open the GNOME Disks application. As a first step choose the drive that you want to format and follow the steps with me.

Warning: Pay attention to the disk you are selecting to format. Don’t format your main disk accidentally.

The commonly used file systems like Ext4, NTFS, FAT will appear first. To use exFAT, choose “Other” and then click on “Next“.

Final step: choose exFAT file system on this screen and then click Create. Job done!

See how easy it was to create a exFAT disk in Linux graphically? Now, let me show you the terminal method as well.

Method 2: Format disk as exFAT in Linux command line (for advanced users)

fdisk is a dialogue-driven command-line utility that creates and manipulates partition tables and partitions on a hard disk. In fact, it is considered one of the best partitioning tools for Linux.

Plug in your external hard disk then type the following command in the terminal:

sudo fdisk -l

This will list down all the hard disks and partitions in your computer. Identify the partition that you want to format in your external hard disk. Size of the disks should give you a hint. For me, the USB disk was labelled as /dev/sdb1.

Once you have identified your USB disk, format it as exfat using the command below. Replace /dev/sdXn with your disk’s device ID. LABEL is basically the name you want to give to your disk like Data, MyUSB etc.

sudo mkfs.exfat -n LABEL /dev/sdXn

Optionally, run fsck check to make sure the formatting has been done properly.

sudo fsck.exfat /dev/sdXn

That’s it. Enjoy the exFAT disk.

Did you succeed to create exFAT disk?

I hope you find this tutorial simple enough, and a step forward to build a solid partitioning knowledge foundation.

Sometimes easy and simple tips and tricks will make you a better Linux in the long term. Our frequent readers know that first hand but if you discovered It’s FOSS recently, you may take the opportunity to explore our handy tutorials.

Don’t forget to subscribe and let me know your questions and suggestions in the comments below.

FreeFileSync: Open Source File Synchronization Tool

Monday 25th of May 2020 11:30:43 AM

Brief: FreeFileSync is an open-source folder comparison and sync tool with which you can back up your data to an external disk, a cloud service like Google Drive or any other storage path.

FreeFileSync: A Free & Open-Source Tool To Sync Files

FreeFileSync is an impressive open-source tool that can help you back up your data to a different location.

This different location can be an external USB disk, Google Drive or to any of your cloud storage locations using SFTP or FTP connections.

You might have read our tutorial on how to use Google Drive on Linux before. Unfortunately, there’s no proper FOSS solution to use Google Drive natively on Linux. There is Insync but it is a premium, non open source software.

FreeFileSync can be used to sync files with your Google Drive account. In fact, I’m using it to sync my files to Google Drive and to a separate hard drive.

Features of FreeFileSync

Even though the UI of FreeFileSync might look old school — it offers a ton of useful features for average users and advanced users as well.

I’ll highlight all the features I can here:

  • Cross-platform support (Windows, macOS & Linux)
  • Compare folders before synchronizing
  • Supports Google Drive, SFTP, and FTP connections
  • Offers the ability to sync your files on a different storage path (or an external storage device)
  • Multiple synchronization options available (Update files to the target from source or Mirror the files between target and source)
  • Two-way synchronization supported (changes will be synced if there’s any modification on the target folder or the source folder)
  • Version control available for advanced users
  • Real-Time Sync option available
  • Ability to schedule batch jobs
  • Get notified via email when sync completes (paid)
  • Portable edition (paid)
  • Parallel file copy (paid)

So, if you take a look at the features it offers, it’s not just any ordinary sync tool but offers so much more for free.

Also, to give you an idea, you can also tweak how to compare the files before syncing them. For instance, you can compare the file content / file time or simply compare the file size of both source and target folder.

You also get numerous synchronization options to mirror or update your data. Here’s how it looks like:

However, it does give you the option to opt for a donation key which unlocks some special features like the ability to notify you via email when the sync completes and so on.

Here’s what different between the free and paid version:

So, most of the essential features is available for free. The premium features are mostly for advanced users and of course, if you want to support them (please do if you find it useful).

Also, do note that the donation edition can be used by a single user on up to 3 devices. So, that is definitely not bad!

Installing FreeFileSync on Linux

You can simply head on to its official download page and grab the tar.gz file for Linux. If you like you can download the source as well.

Next, you just need to extract the archive and run the executable file to get started (as shown in the image above)

Download FreeFileSync How To Get Started With FreeFileSync?

While I haven’t tried successfully creating an automatic sync job, it is pretty easy to use.

The official documentation should be more than enough to get what you want using the software.

But, just to give you a head start, here are a few things that you should keep in mind.

As you can see in the screenshot above, you just have to select a source folder and the target folder to sync. You can choose a local folder or a cloud storage location.

Once you do that, you need to tweak the type of folder comparison you want to do (usually the file time & size) for the synchronization process and on the right-side, you get to tweak the type of sync that you want to perform.

Types of synchronization in FreeFileSync

When you select “Update” method for sync, it simply copies your new data from the source folder to the target folder. So, even if you delete something from your source folder, it won’t get deleted on your target folder.

In case you want the target folder to have the same file copies of your same folder, you can choose the “Mirror” synchronization method. So, here, if you delete something from your source, it gets deleted from your target folder as well.

There’s also a “Two-way” sync method which detects changes on both source and target folder (instead of monitoring just the source folder). So, if you make any changes on the source/target folder, the modification will be synchronized.

For more advanced usage, I suggest you to refer the documentation available.

Wrapping Up

Another open source file synchronization tool is Syncthing that you might want to look at.

FreeFileSync is a pretty underrated folder comparison and sync tool available for Linux users who utilize Google Drive, SFTP, or FTP connections along with separate storage locations for backup.

And, all of that — with cross-platform support for Windows, macOS, and Linux available for free.

Isn’t that exciting? Let me know your thoughts on FreeFileSync in the comments down below.

Using ‘apt search’ and ‘apt show’ Commands to Search and Find Details of Packages in Ubuntu

Sunday 24th of May 2020 11:17:27 AM

This is a detailed beginners guide to apt search command. Using apt search and apt show commands, you can get details of the available versions, dependencies, repositories and other important information about packages in Ubuntu.

Have you ever wondered if a certain package is available to install via apt package manager?

Have you wondered if the package offered by Ubuntu repositories are the latest one or not?

The apt package manager in Ubuntu and many other distribution provides two handy apt command options for this purpose.

The apt search command looks for the provided string in the name and description of the packages.

apt search package_name

The apt show command provides detailed information on a package:

apt show package_name

The commands don’t require you to be root in Ubuntu. Here’s an example of these commands:

Why would you want to use apt search or apt show command?

Let’s say you want to install Gambas programming language in Ubuntu. You are happy with your knowledge of the apt command so you decided to use the command line for installing application.

You open a terminal and use the apt command to install gambas but it results in unable to locate package error.

sudo apt install gambas Reading package lists... Done Building dependency tree Reading state information... Done E: Unable to locate package gambas

Why did Ubuntu not find the gambas package? Because there is no such package called gambas. Instead, it is available as gambas3. This is a situation where you could take the advantage of the apt search command.

Let’s move to apt show command. This command provides detailed information about a package, its repository, dependencies and a lot more.

Knowing what version of a package is available from the official repository could help you in deciding whether you should install it from some other sources.

Quick recall

The apt package manager works on a local database/cache of available packages from various repositories. This database contains the information about the available package version, dependencies etc. It doesn’t contain the entire package itself. The packages are downloaded from the remote repositories.

When you run the sudo apt update command, this cache is created/updated in the /var/lib/apt/lists/ directory. The apt search and apt show commands utilize this cache.

The term package is used for an application, program, software.

Search for available packages using apt search command

Let me continue the gambas example. Say, you search for

apt search gambas

It will give you a huge list of packages that have “gambas” in its name or description. This output list is in alphabetical order.

Now, you’ll of course have to make some intelligent prediction about the package you want. In this example, the first result says “Complete visual development environment for Gambas”. This gives you a good hint that this is the main package you are looking for.

Why so many packages associated with gambas? Because a number of these gambas packages are probably dependencies that will installed automatically if you install the gambas3 package. If you use the ‘apt show gambas3‘ command, it will show all the dependencies that will be installed with gambas3 package.

Some of these listed packages could be libraries that a developer may need in some special cases while developing her/his software.

Use apt search for package name only

By default, apt search command looks for the searched term in both the name of the package and its description.

You may narrow down the search by instructing the apt command to search for package names only.

apt search --names-only search_term

If you are following this as a tutorial, give it a try. Check the output with search term ‘transitional’ with and without –names-only option and you’ll see how the output changes.

apt search transitional apt search --names-only transitional

Bonus Tip: You can use ‘apt list –installed’ command to look for installed packages in Ubuntu.

Get detailed information on a package using apt show command

The output of the apt search commands a brief introduction of the packages. If you want more details, use the apt show command.

apt show exact_package_name

The apt show command works on the exact package name and it gives you a lot more information on the package. You get:

  • Version information
  • Repository information
  • Origin and maintainer of the package information
  • Where to file a bug
  • Download and installation size
  • Dependencies
  • Detailed description of the package
  • And a lot more

Here’s an example:

You need to give the exact package name otherwise the apt show won’t work. The good thing is that tab completion works apt show command.

As you can see in the previous image, you have plenty of information that you may found helpful.

The apt show command also works on installed packages. In that case, you can see which source the package was installed from. Was it a PPA or some third-party repository or universe or the main repository itself?

Personally, I use apt show a lot. This helps me know if the package version provided by Ubuntu is the latest or not. Pretty handy tool!


If you read my detailed guide on the difference between apt and apt-get commands, you would know that this ‘apt search’ command works similar to ‘apt-cache search’. There is no such command as “apt-get search”.

The purpose of creating apt command is to give you one tool with only enough option to manage the packages in your Debian/Ubuntu system. The apt-get, apt-cache and other apt tools still exist, and they can be used in scripting for more complex scenarios.

I hope you found this introduction to apt search and apt show commands useful. I welcome your questions and suggestions on this topic.

If you liked it, please share it on various Linux forums and communities you frequent. That helps us a lot. Thank you.

How to Make a GIF in GIMP [Simple Tutorial]

Saturday 23rd of May 2020 06:27:39 AM

Making a GIF can be fun and many users would like to know how to make one. You can create a GIF very easily with GIMP, the powerful open-source image editing software.

In this GIMP tutorial, I’ll show you how to create a simple GIF in GIMP.

Making a GIF in GIMP

Using GIMP as an animation tool requires you to think of every layer as of an animation frame. In this tutorial, I will create a simple web banner based on It’s FOSS logo. I will use 2 images as my layers but feel free to add more when you make your own.

The method that I use here is called “the combine method”, in which the new frame is added to the previous frame. My idea is to make a “flashing” web banner, to draw the attention at something important.

I presume that you have already installed GIMP in Ubuntu or whichever operating system you are using. Let’s start making the GIF.

Step 1

From the File menu, click on Open as Layers and select all the images you want to include in the GIF. Then click Open.

You can order your images in the layers tab. The GIF sequence will start with your bottom layer and run through each layer bottom to top.

Change the order of layers

From the main menu select Filters, then Animation and finally click Optimise (for GIF).

What “Optimise” does?

Optimise examines each layer, and reuses information from previous frames if they haven’t changed at the following frame. It only stores new values for pixels that change, and purges any duplicate parts.

If a frame is exactly the same as the previous one, it removes that frame completely and the previous frame just stays on the screen for longer.

To view GIF, from main menu click on Filter then Animation and Playback.

Press the Playback button to start GIF. To save GIF on the File Menu select File, click on Export as.

Name your GIF and choose the folder you want to save it in. On “Select File Type“, choose GIF Image.

Save As Gif

When prompted select ‘As Animation’, ‘Loop Forever’, set the desired delay value and to take effect click on “Use delay entered above for all frames”.

The most important option is to set the frame disposal action as “Cumulative layers (combine)” to get the “flashing” effect for our banner. Click Export as a final step.

Gif Export Options

Your GIF is ready!

This was an easy-to-follow, simple example, although GIMP has a much greater depth in animation creating and requires a good amount of study and practice to master it.

If you are interested in more GIMP tutorials, you may read how to outline text in GIMP. Stay tuned at It’s FOSS for more such useful tips in the future. Subscribing to the weekly newsletter is the best way to stay updated. Enjoy!

Good News! EA To Open Source Command and Conquer’s Tiberian Dawn & Red Alert

Thursday 21st of May 2020 10:33:28 AM

Command and conquer is probably one of the biggest active classic RTS (Real-Time Strategy) game franchise out there.

And, EA recently announced that they will be making two of the popular titles of the franchise (Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert) open source.

And, this is coming from EA that we’ve held responsible for banning Linux gamers earlier this year. So, this is quite a surprise!

I wasn’t even on earth when this game started a revolution of RTS games — so it makes sense that many gamers have nostalgic experiences with the game.

EA’s Decision To Open Source Tiberian Dawn & Red Alert

The announcement to open source the popular titles was a surprise in disguise of addressing the mod support for the Remastered Collection of the game which should arrive soon enough.

Even though this isn’t something that’s coming to Linux with native support, the decision to open-source some of the popular titles was an impressive move.

It is worth noting that both Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert were available as freeware but now that they have been made open-source is good progress.

Also, just because its open source, it’s going to ensure compatibility with community projects like CnCNet and OpenRA. They did mention it as well:

After discussing with the council members, we made the decision to go with the GPL license to ensure compatibility with projects like CnCNet and Open RA. Our goal was to deliver the source code in a way that would be truly beneficial for the community, and we hope this will enable amazing community projects for years to come.

Not just for the open-source community to play around with the classic project — but it can also be considered as a milestone in the gaming industry.

Here’s what the official announcement read:

Electronic Arts will be releasing the TiberianDawn.dll and RedAlert.dll and their corresponding source code under the GPL version 3.0 license. This is a key moment for Electronic Arts, the C&C community, and the gaming industry, as we believe this will be one of the first major RTS franchises to open source their source code under the GPL.

Command And Conquer Collection

While we already know that the Command & Conquer (C&C) paved the way for many modern RTS games on mobile — hence, this is a significant decision by EA.

Now that part of C&C Tiberian Dawn and Red Alert is open source, you should expect impressive mods just like the one mentioned in the announcement:

The community council has already been playing with the source code and are posting some fun experiments in our Discord channel. But to showcase a tangible example of what you can do with the software, Petroglyph has actually created a new modded unit to play with. So we asked a fun question – “What would the Brotherhood of Nod do if they captured the Mammoth Tank?” Well, one guess is they’d replace the turret with a giant artillery cannon and have it fire tactical nukes! Thus the Nuke Tank was born.

Now that it’s open-source. What do you think about it? Are you going to start playing around with it to create an insane mod (let me know though!)?

Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

Now You Can Run Linux Apps in Windows (Thanks to WSL)

Thursday 21st of May 2020 06:47:21 AM

Microsoft’s recent “Build 2020” developer conference involved some interesting announcements. I’m not sure if it’s something to be excited about or skeptical about — but Microsoft you have our attention now more than ever.

And, among all the announcements, the ability to run GUI apps on WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux) gained the spotlight.

Not to forget the fiasco with Xamrin.Forms rebranding as MAUI which conflicts with an existing open-source project (Maui Project) by Uri Herrera of Nitrux Linux.

In case you didn’t know, WSL is an environment that lets you have a console-only Linux experience from within Windows 10. It is also one of the best ways to run Linux commands in Windows.

While the announcement through a blog post (DirectX ❤ Linux) may have been a PR bait as Liam Dawe thinks. But, it’s still something worth talking about.

Support for Linux GUI Apps On WSL

Recently, Microsoft announced a bunch of new features coming to WSL (a.k.a. WSL 2) during the online developer conference.

The introduction of Windows Package Manager, Windows Terminal 1.0, and a couple others were some its highlights.

But, the support for GPU hardware acceleration to Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 was something significant.

So, does this mean that you can run Linux apps on Windows using WSL? Looks like it…

Microsoft plans to make it happen using a brand-new Linux kernel driver dxgkrnl. To give you a technical brief, I’d quote the description from their announcement here:

Linux Kernel Driver Wsl

Dxgkrnl is a brand-new kernel driver for Linux that exposes the /dev/dxg device to user mode Linux. /dev/dxg exposes a set of IOCTL that closely mimic the native WDDM D3DKMT kernel service layer on Windows. Dxgkrnl inside the Linux kernel connects over the VM Bus to its big brother on the Windows host and uses this VM bus connection to communicate with the physical GPU.

I’m no expert here but it means that the Linux applications on WSL will have the same access to the GPU as native Windows applications do.

The support for GUI apps will be coming later this fall (not with May 2020 update) — so we’ll have to see when that happens.

Microsoft is specifically targeting the developers who want the comfort of using their Linux IDE on Windows. Google is also targeting the same user base by bringing GUI Linux apps to Chromebook.

Well, that’s good news for users who want to stick with Windows. But, is it really?

Microsoft Loves Linux — Do They Really? Microsoft Loves Linux

It is definitely a good thing that they are embracing Linux and its benefits through their efforts of incorporating a Linux environment on Windows.

But, how is it really going to help the desktop Linux users? I don’t see any real-word benefits from it as of now.

You’re free to have a different opinion here. But, I think there’s no real value to the desktop users of Linux through the development of WSL. At least, none so far.

It was interesting to notice that someone on Linux Unplugged podcast highlighted Microsoft’s move as something in the line of EEE (Embrace, extend, and extinguish) for which they’re known for.

Maybe, who knows? Of course, the effort they’ve put to pull this off is worth appreciating — but it’s exciting and mystifying at the same time.

Does this mean Windows users will no longer switch to Linux?

The reason why Microsoft is embracing Linux on its platform is that they know what it’s capable of and why developers (or users) prefer using.

But, with the updates to WSL 2, I tend to agree to what Abhishek thinks if this continues:

Eventually, desktop Linux will be confined to become a desktop application under Windows…

Well, of course, the native experience is still superior for the time being. And, it’ll be rare to see that the existing Linux desktop users will use Windows over it. But, that’s still something to worry about.

What do you think about all this? I’m not ruling the advantages of WSL for users forced to use Windows — but do you think Microsoft’s progress with WSL is going to be something hostile in nature or something that will help Linux in the long run?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments!

David vs Goliath! Microsoft and an Obscure KDE Project Fight Over “MAUI”

Wednesday 20th of May 2020 12:01:33 PM

Remember the interview with Uri Herrera, the creator of Nitrux Linux? Uri also works on couple of other Linux-related projects and one of them is Maui project.

The MauiKit (styled as MAUI) is an acronym for Multi-Adaptable User Interfaces. It is an open source framework for developing cross-platform applications. It’s been in development since 2018 and it is now a part of KDE’s incubation program KDE Invent.

Why am I talking about Maui? Because Microsoft has renamed one of its project (Xamarin.Forms) to .NET MAUI. This MAUI in .NET MAUI stands for Multi-platform App UI. It is also a framework for building cross-platform application.

You see the confusion here? Both MAUI projects are frameworks for building cross-platform applications.

The debate over the use of “MAUI”

MauiKit developers are obviously not happy with this move by Microsoft.

We like to believe that this an unfortunate event caused by an oversight during the brainstorming session to select a new and appealing name for their product and not an attempt at using the brand weight and marketing-might that a corporation such as Microsoft and their subsidiary Xamarin possess to step over a competing framework. A UI framework that, as of today, is still the first result in Google when searching for the term “Maui UI framework” but that due to the might of GitHub (another Microsoft subsidiary) and Microsoft’s website (specifically, their blog) SEO that will change over time.

A couple of issues were opened on the GitHub repository of .NET MAUI to bring their attention to this name clash.

The discussion got heated as some Microsoft MVPs and contributors (not Microsoft employees) started making arguments like MauiKit is a small project with fewer GitHub stars and no big companies use it.

Microsoft’s Program Manager David Ortinau closed the thread with the message, “official legal name is .NET Multi-platform App UI and MAUI is an acronym, code name. This has been through legal review”.

Microsoft’s official response

This is the main thread that you can follow on GitHub if you want.

Is it really an issue?

It may seem like a non-issue at the first glance but two projects with the same aim and same name are bound to create confusion. It would have been best that Microsoft had avoided it altogether.

By the way, this is not the first time Microsoft has a name clash with a Linux-related project. As Phoronix noted, a few years ago it was GNOME developers frustrated with Microsoft over naming a project GVFS (later renamed to Virtual File System for Git) as it collided with their GVFS (GNOME Virtual File-System)

By the looks of it, Microsoft is not going to backtrack on MAUI. It could even go ahead and trademark MAUI. They have got all the money and power after all.

I wonder what would have been the case if an obscure small project used the same name as one of Microsoft’s projects.

Ubuntu Budgie 20.04 Review: Smooth, Polished & Plenty of Changes

Wednesday 20th of May 2020 04:14:41 AM

As we promised our readers, we’ll be reviewing all major flavors of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS release. In that continuation, here’s our take on the Ubuntu Budgie.

Ubuntu Budgie Desktop

Ubuntu Budgie, as the name implies, is an official flavor of Ubuntu using the Budgie desktop environment. This flavor is a newer member of the Ubuntu family. Ubuntu Budgie’s first release was 16.04 and it was accepted as an official flavor with the 17.04 release.

Their goal is to “combine the simplicity and elegance of the Budgie interface to produce a traditional desktop orientated distro with a modern paradigm”.

Ubuntu 20.04 Review: What has changed and what has not!

There have been a surprising number of updates and improvements to Ubuntu Budgie since the 18.04 LTS release.

  • New stylish menu apple
  • Budgie-based network manager applet as default
  • New Window Shuffler allows you to tile applications from the keyboard
  • New tool to quickly switch desktop layout
  • 4k resolution support
  • GNOME Firmware and Drawing are new default applications
  • Backport packages have now been rebuilt for 20.04
  • Firefox is the default browser.
  • Catfish file and text search is now the default
  • budgie-nemo integration
  • System Tray applet removed due to bugs
  • Event alerts sounds are disabled by default
  • Fix for keyboard shortcuts mysteriously going missing
  • Better lock screen styling
  • Files (Nautilus) has been replaced with Files (Nemo) due to community demand
  • Plank dock has now been switched to the bottom of the screen, is transparent and has the bounce animations by default
  • The Quick Notes and Hot Corners applets have been ported from Python to Vala to improve speed
  • Celluloid replaces MPV
  • GNOME dependencies have been updated

Ubuntu Budgie now ships with the most recent release of the Budgie desktop environment (10.5.1). Improvements include:

  • New Raven section in Budgie Desktop Settings
  • Raven Notification grouping and the ability to turn off notifications
  • Icon Task List has been revamped
  • Ability to set number of virtual desktops

Ubuntu Budgie comes with a whole slew of Budgie applets and min-apps. They can be installed through Ubuntu Budgie Welcome.

Ubuntu Budgie Welcome
  • WeatherShow – shows the forecast for the next five days and updates every 3 hours
  • Wallstreet – a wallpaper utility that allows you to cycle through a folder of images
  • Visual-space – a compact workspace switcher
  • Dropby – this applet allows you to quickly manage USB thumb drives from the panel
  • Kangaroo – quickly browser folders from the panel
  • Trash applet – manage your trash can
  • Fuzzyclock – shows time in a fuzzy way
  • Workspace stopwatch – allows you to keep track of the time spent in each workspace

For a complete list of changes and updates, visit the changelog.

System Requirements

Ubuntu Budgie 20.04 has updated the system requirements:

  • 4GB or more of RAM
  • 64-bit capable Intel and AMD processors
  • UEFI PCs booting in CSM mode
  • Modern Intel-based Apple Macs

As you can see, Budgie is not really a lightweight option here.

Included Apps

The following useful applications are included in Ubuntu Budgie by default:

  • AisleRiot Solitaire
  • Geary
  • Catfish search tool
  • Cheese webcam tool
  • GNOME Drawing
  • GNOME 2048
  • GNOME Mahjongg
  • GNOME Mines
  • GNOME Sudoku
  • Gthumb
  • LibreOffice
  • Maps
  • Rhythmbox
  • Tilix
  • Ubuntu Budgie Welcome
  • Evince document viewer
  • Plank
  • Celluloid
Ubuntu Budgie Ram Usage Installation

Initially, I was unable to get Ubuntu Budgie to do into the live environment so that I could install it. It turned out that Ubuntu Budgie was trying to boot via EFI. I contacted the Ubuntu Budgie forum and was able to get a solution.

Once the purple splash screen I had to hit ESC and select legacy. After that, it booted as normal and installed without issue. I have only run into this issue with Ubuntu Budgie. I downloaded and tried the Ubuntu MATE 20.04 ISO, but didn’t have a similar issue.

Experience with Ubuntu Budgie 20.04

Other than the minor installation issue, my time with Ubuntu Budgie was very pleasant. The Budgie desktop has come a long way since Ikey first created it and it has become a very mature option. The goal of Ubuntu Budgie is to “produce a traditional desktop orientated distro”. It does that in spades. All the changes that they have made continually add more polish to their product.

Overall, Ubuntu Budgie is a very nice looking distro. From the default theme to wallpaper options, you can tell that a lot of effort was put into making the visual experience very appealing.

One thing to keep in mind is that Ubuntu Budgie is not intended for low spec systems. I’m running it on my Dell Latitude D630. Without any applications open, it used about 700 MB of RAM.

One part of Ubuntu Budgie that I enjoyed more than I should have, was the inclusion of the Tilix terminal emulator. Tilix allows you to add terminal windows to the right or below. It has a whole host of features and just loved using it. I’m planning to install on my other Linux systems.

Final Thoughts on Ubuntu Budgie 20.04

Ubuntu Budgie is a welcome addition to the litany of official flavors. Budgie feels very smooth and polished. It gets out of your way and lets you get work done.

If you are tired of your current desktop environment and want to take a look at something new, check it out. If you’re happy with your current setup, check Ubuntu Budgie’s live DVD. You just might like it.

Ubuntu Budgie About

Have you already tried Ubuntu 20.04 Budgie? How’s your experience with it? If not, which Ubuntu 20.04 flavor are you using right now?

How to Properly Install and Setup KDE Plasma on Arch Linux

Tuesday 19th of May 2020 11:25:23 AM

I believe you followed the fantastic It’s FOSS guide on installing Arch Linux. The guide ends with steps mentioning the installation procedure for GNOME desktop.

Now, not everyone is a GNOME fan and several readers requested that we show them how to configure the KDE desktop on Arch Linux.

And thus I created this guide to demonstrate the steps for properly installing and configuring KDE desktop (also known as KDE Plasma desktop) on Arch Linux.

How to install and setup KDE desktop environment on Arch Linux

Please keep in mind that KDE doesn’t allow login as root directly. If you have installed Arch Linux and using it as root, you should create a new user and give it sudo rights for running commands as root.

If you just have a bare minimum installation of Arch Linux, you probably are logging into a TTY terminal. If you are using some other desktop environment, steps remain the same.

Let’s go!

Step 1: Create a sudo user (if you have only root user)

You can use the useradd command for creating a new user. I am creating user named dimitrios (that’s my name). You can use something that matches your name.

The option -m creates a home directory for the newly created user.

useradd -m dimitrios

You should also set a password for this user. Use this command:

passwd dimitrios

Now that you have created the user, give it sudo access. First, install sudo and a command line text editor like nano:

pacman -S sudo nano

The configuration file for sudo is /etc/sudoers. It should always be edited with the visudo command. visudo locks the sudoers file, saves edits to a temporary file, and checks that file’s grammar before copying it to /etc/sudoers.

To use nano as the visudo editor, use:

EDITOR=nano visudo

Add the following line like I do in the example, then save and exit.

dimitrios ALL=(ALL) ALL Adding Sudoer in Arch Linux

Save your changes and exit the editor. You now have a sudo user on Arch Linux.

Step 2: Installing KDE Plasma desktop

To run KDE desktop, you need the following packages:

You can install of the above using the following command:

pacman -S xorg plasma plasma-wayland-session kde-applications

Once installed, enable the Display Manager and Network Manager services:

systemctl enable sddm.service systemctl enable NetworkManager.service

Almost there. Shutdown your system:

shutdown now

Power on your system and you should see the KDE login. Do you remember the password you set up for your sudo user? Use it to login.

Arch KDE Plasma Desktop What next?

You may want to explore the essential pacman commands, to know what’s going on with the Arch User Repository and learn more about AUR helpers.

I hope you found this tutorial helpful in installing KDE desktop on Arch Linux. Please let us know in the comments below, if you encountered any obstacle or difficulty during the installation.

What’s your favourite Desktop environment or Window Manager? Let us know and don’t forget to subscribe on our social media.

EU Parliament Strongly Recommends Developing and Using Open Source Software

Tuesday 19th of May 2020 03:37:21 AM

Europe is choosing open source more than ever. Not just limited to EU Commissions’ decision to use Signal messaging app but also open science and the adoption of open source software by European universities.

Now, in a recent press release by the European Pirate Party, it looks like the EU Parliament is urging EU institutions to use open-source software. All thanks to the Pirate amendments for encouraging the use of open-source software.

The EU Parliament not just encourages the use of open-source software, but they have also advised to prioritize development of open-source software by the EU institutions.

So, not just aiming to adopt using open-source software but to develop open-source software. And, that’s definitely good news!

More use of open-source software, why not? To give you some more details, here’s what they mentioned in the press release:

In practice, from now on, all IT solutions developed by and for the EU institutions will first need to be assessed against the possibility of using Open Source solutions. Assessments will then have to be reported back to the Budgetary Control Committee of the Parliament on an annual basis, during the discharge procedure. This is a strong call for enhancing our important citizens right to transparent and trustworthy information.

Important decision to remove vendor lock-ins Public Money Public Code Campaign

No matter who made this happen — this decision of preferring open-source software over proprietary will not just help the open-source community but also helps the EU institutions in a variety of ways.

Especially, relying on open-source software removes the overhead of vendor lock-ins. In other words, an EU institution does not have to rely on vendor to manage/maintain the software.

The press release also addressed this by mentioning:

It is essential for the European institutions to retain control over its own technical systems, especially in a context of disinformation and foreign interference. Open Source promotes local technical support, leads to rapid development of software and helps to avoid dependency on specific suppliers or vendor lock-in effects, which exist when only one company is in charge of software or even the entire IT infrastructure supply.

Any responsible local organization can take up the task while the community can still help in any way it can. This could also reduce the cost of maintaining the software among other things like improving the security of a software in a collaborative manner.

Is this a big win for open-source community?

Yes, and no. We’ve seen a lot of recommendations made by the governments (or the EU government in general) to choose open-source software to keep things more secure yet transparent.

Pirate’s Vice-President of EU Parliament, Marcel Kolaja, mentions some advantages of this decision as well:

It’s a milestone for transparent and open digitization of the European institutions. From now on, the Open Source ecosystem has a stepping ground for offering Open Source solutions and the Pirates will gladly play the role of the guardians and will try to solve and highlight any attempt to bypass this strong recommendation. It’s a really important step to remove vendor lock-ins in the Parliament“

So, this will definitely help them earn trust of their citizens by providing digital transparency while also encouraging public participation to improve the software as well. Of course, this will also help introduce the concept of open-source software to many who were unaware of it in some way.

Also, ensuring open-source software for publicly financed software will enhance the meaning of freedom of speech/privacy/press.

In a nutshell, these decisions do have a positive impact in one way or the other.

But, the implementations of these decisions will decide how effective it’s going to be to put the words in action.

Wrapping Up

I’m happy with the decision by EU Parliament here — even though I’m not a European. I guess, this should encourage other government bodies to take similar decisions or steps to ensure digital transparency while earning the trust of their citizens.

To get more details on the decision, you can refer to the official press release by the European Pirate Party.

What do you think about it? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

LanguageTool Review: Free and Open Source Grammar Checker

Monday 18th of May 2020 07:20:34 AM

This week’s open source software highlight is LanguageTool. It is a proofreading software that checks the grammar, style and spelling in more than 20 languages.

I have been using it for past several days and I feel confident enough to review it and share my experience with it. I have used the popular proofreading tool Grammarly in the past and I’ll make some comparison between these two tools.

LanguageTool: Open source proofreading software

LanguageTool grammar checker is available in multiple formats:

  • You can copy-paste your text on its website.
  • You can install browser extension that will check for errors as you type anything, anywhere in the web browser.
  • You can install a Java-based desktop application for offline usage.
  • You can install add-on for LibreOffice and MS Office.
  • Add-ons are also available for a number of other software like Sublime Text, Thunderbird, Vim, Visual Studio Code etc.
  • Android app is also available.
  • API is also available if you want to use LanguageTool in your software or service. API offering comes under premium services.

You can find source code of LanguageTool and its related assets on their GitHub repository.

LanguageTool also has a premium version that you can purchase. The premium version offers additional error checks.

I am using LanguageTool premium version as a browser extension. Almost all the writing I do is online and thus the browser extension is perfect for me.

The most convenient way to try LanguageTool is by using its browser extension. Install the browser add-on and next time you type anything in the browser, LanguageTool will start checking your text for grammatical and spelling errors. It will also check for styling errors.

Experience with LanguageTool: How good is it?

LanguageTool leaves a good first impression. It starts checking for errors as you start typing.

Different types of errors have different color codes. Spelling mistakes are highlighted in red color, grammatical mistakes are in yellow colors and styling errors have a blueish shade.

Clicking on the error suggestion replaces your text with the suggested one. You may also ignore the suggestion. You’ll also see number of issues identified by LanguageTool in the current text check.

Spelling mistake identified by LanguageTool Personal dictionary

You can also create your personal directory and add words in it. This is helpful because no proofreading tool can give a green light to technical terms like systemd, iptables and brand names like WireGuard. To avoid these words labeled as spelling mistakes, add them to your personal dictionary.

You may edit your personal dictionary from your LanguageTool account.

LanguageTool Personal Dictionary Details on the error suggestion

If it finds grammatical errors, it also gives a quick explanation of the error. You can get more details by clicking the tool tip which takes you to a reputable external source.

You can get additional details on the errors Synonym suggestion (in beta)

If you double-click on a word, it will also suggest synonyms.

Are there any privacy issues?

If you use the online services of LanguageTool, your text is sent to their servers over an encrypted connection. All their servers are hosted at Hetzner Online GmbH in Germany.

LanguageTool states that it doesn’t store any text that you check using its services. You can read their privacy policy here.

The free to use website shows ads (there are no third-party ads in the browser add-on). To test their claim of “sending text over an encrypted server”, I typed sample text containing words like vacuum cleaner, laptop etc.

Thankfully, the displayed ad on their website was nothing related to the text I typed. I haven’t noticed any vacuum cleaner ads on the websites I visit or on Facebook. That’s a good thing.

It doesn’t work flawlessly all the time

No software is perfect and LanguageTool is not an exception. While it is helpful in finding obvious spelling and grammatical mistakes, it struggles in some simple scenario.

For example, if a sentence contains several blank spaces together, LanguageTool failed to find an issue with that.

Too many whitespaces and yet it went undetected

This is weird because if I look at their ‘error rules’, I can see a whitespace repetition rule. I think this rule is applicable only for the Java-based LanguageTool apps, not the browser add-on I am using.

I also found some other cases where LanguageTool should have identified errors but it didn’t. For example, it didn’t alert for the missing ‘to’ in the text below:

LanguageTool fails to find the missing “to”

When I checked it against the Grammarly free version, it was able to point it out.

Grammarly was quick to identify it

I also found an infinite loop of suggestion. It first suggests using syntaxes as plural of syntax.

Suggestion for using ‘syntaxes’

And then it doesn’t accept ‘syntaxes’ as a valid word.

And then it doesn’t accept ‘syntaxes’

I have seen such “infinite error loop” with Grammarly as well in the past, so I won’t be too hard on LanguageTool for such issues.


Despite some hiccups, I am satisfied with LanguageTool proofreading tool. Both free and premium version are good enough for finding obvious spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.

The premium version offers over 2500 additional error checks and it costs around $15-$70 per year depending on your geographical region. This is a lot cheaper than Grammarly which costs $140 per year.

I opted for the premium version because it will help this open-source project. Premium users also get email support.

You are not forced to go premium, of course. You can use the free version and if you have some questions or need support, there is a community forum that you can join for free.

LanguageTool can certainly be considered one of the essential open-source tools for writers. I am going to continue using LanguageTool. If you find grammatical or spelling mistakes in It’s FOSS articles in the future, blame LanguageTool, not me. Just kidding :)

In Free Software, the Community is the Most Important Ingredient: Jerry Bezencon of Linux Lite [Interview]

Sunday 17th of May 2020 12:54:24 PM

You are probably aware of Linux Lite. It is a lightweight Linux distribution based on Ubuntu. If you have an older system with 1 GB of RAM, Linux Lite becomes an excellent choice for you.

We have covered Linux Lite releases several times on It’s FOSS and if you are a regular reader, you would have come across it.

We talked to Jerry Bezencon, the creator of Linux Lite project, to know some background details on this project.

Interview with Jerry Bezencon of Linux Lite

Jerry is based in Auckland, New Zealand, and he devotes a good deal of time and effort on Linux Lite project. Jerry shares his vision of the project in this interview.

Tell us about the origins of Linux Lite. When did you create it first and what made you create it in the first place?

Linux Lite was started in 2012 for 3 important reasons. One, I wanted to dispel myths that a Linux based operating system was hard to use. Two, at that time, there was a shortage of simple, intuitive desktop experiences on Linux that offered long-term support. Three, I had used Linux for over 10 years before starting Linux Lite.

I felt I needed to give back to a community that had given so much to me. A community that taught me that by sharing code and knowledge, one could have a dramatically positive impact over peoples computing experiences.

How is Linux Lite different from so many other Ubuntu-based distributions?

Our approach to problem solving and our support. The first sits within the system itself. Lite Tweaks is a good example of this. We try to think of all the things that could possibly go wrong with a computer system, then write applications that fix those problems as easily as possible, should they occur. There is a lot of foresight in the team.

The second is our approach to support. This mainly comes in 2 forms. Our massive built-in and online Help Manual and our large forum community full of some of the nicest people I’ve ever dealt with in the free software and open source community.

How do you and your team work on developing Linux Lite?

There are 24 hours in a day. With 6 – 8 hours for sleep and another 6 – 8 hours for my other job, that’s more than enough time to put towards any project, hobby or job, or all 3.

I take a more professional approach to code writing. I’ll come up with an idea, mock-up the UI then write the base code, or the whole application myself. If I need help, I prefer to hire and pay via our generous donators, freelancers.

That way I can set a budget, the user gets a solid, well-written application by a qualified professional who is fluent in that language, and get I exactly what I ask for on time and without the usual flame wars and egos that can exist in some teams.

By using professional, paid programmers, I avoid all the negativity completely. Application writing has become an extremely peaceful and rewarding exercise.

What are you most proud of about this project?

Linux Lite Interview

I’m most proud of the community that has stayed loyal to us throughout the years. In a business, your staff are your most valuable asset, in free software, the community is the most important ingredient.

What are your future plans with Linux Lite?

To always strive to look for ways to make a person’s computing experience simpler, faster and trouble free. Our target audience shouldn’t have to dive into the terminal to try and fix things. To continue to build a feature-complete operating system that is light on resources.

What new features can we expect in Linux Lite in upcoming versions?

Due to tradition, we like to keep those as surprises. I never run out of ideas. Some nights I get no sleep because my mind is buzzing with ideas for our next application, or how to solve an ongoing, difficult bug.

Are there any features that you really want to implement but haven’t been able to do so far?

You can always do more to enhance an operating system. I’m currently working on our most ambitious application to date. One that doesn’t need a GUI and that sits within the system, anticipates problems and solves them before they are seen by the user. It will have a Reports feature so that those who like to know what is going on, can see for themselves what the code is doing. It will, of course, be free software. My first foray into A.I. that I hope other Linux systems can benefit from in the future.

Have you achieved the goal for which you started the project?

Goal setting is ongoing. There’s no such thing as the perfect operating system. But there is no harm in aiming for that.

How can the users and readers help the project?

In the usual ways. Documentation, coding, volunteering on the Forums, buying merchandise, writing blogs, donating, making videos, starting websites like yours – the list goes on.

We hope you like reading about the background of open source projects. You may read more interviews with various project leaders.

How to Install Linux Mint in VirtualBox [Screenshot Tutorial]

Friday 15th of May 2020 05:55:39 AM

Brief: One of safest and easiest ways to try Linux Mint is inside a virtual machine. Your real system doesn’t change at all. Learn how to install Linux Mint in VirtualBox in this tutorial.

Linux Mint is considered one of the best distributions for new Linux users. Its flagship Cinnamon DE is one of the most popular desktop environment giving your system a look and feel of classic Window-styled desktop.

If you want to try Linux Mint and see if it fits your need, you could try installing it in a virtual machine. This way, you run Linux Mint inside your current system without changing your system’s partition or boot order. One of the safest way out there as you get to run Linux like a regular desktop application inside your current operating system.

Oracle’s open source virtualization tool VirtualBox is available for free on all major desktop operating systems i.e. Windows, Linux and macOS.

In this beginner’s tutorial, I’ll show you the steps for installing Linux Mint in VirtualBox. I am including the screenshots for each step so that you can easily follow the tutorial.

Installing Linux Mint in VirtualBox

You can follow the steps on any operating system be it Windows, Linux or macOS. You just need to install VirtualBox on your operating system and rest of the steps remain the same.

Step 1: Download VirtualBox from its website and install it by double-clicking on the downloaded file.

Next, install the latest version of Linux Mint’s ISO file from its website.

Download Linux Mint ISO

Step 2: Once your virtual Box is up & running we are ready to get started. Click the New button, click Next on the virtual machine wizard.

Create a new Virtual Machine

Initially you need to specify the following:

  • Name: Any preferred name for your VM like Linux Mint
  • Type: Linux
  • Version: Ubuntu (64 bit) as Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution

Before configuring any hardware resource value, please make sure that are aware of the system requirements.

2 GB RAM would be okay but won’t give you a good experience. 3 GB is a comfortable amount if your system has 8 GB of RAM. I choose to set my Virtual Machine to 4096 MB (4 GB) because my system has plenty of RAM.

RAM consumption

One of the common confusion is regarding the RAM consumption. Let’s say your Windows system has 8 GB of RAM and you assign 3 GB of RAM to Linux Mint in VirtualBox.

If you are running Linux Mint inside VirtualBox, your real system (called host system) will have 5 GB of RAM available for consumption.

If you are not running Linux Mint inside VirtualBox, at that moment, the entire 8 GB will be available to the host system.

Step 3: Next, choose a Virtual Hard disk now option and click create.

Choose the virtual storage allocation method (Recommended Dynamically allocated). Set your storage location for virtual hard disk by browsing drive and then specify the size of virtual hard disk (it could be anything from 12-20 GB).

Dynamic allocation can save you space if you don’t need the maximum allowance

Step (4 (optional advanced settings): Once Virtual machine has been created, click on the settings button in menu:

Now, go to the Display section. Specify the Video memory (128 MB) and check “Enable 3D Acceleration”.

Don’t forget to enable the 3D Acceleration

Then click on System Tab → Processor and choose how many threads would you like to allocate.

My system is a 4 core/4 thread system and I choose to assign half of the CPU capability i.e. 2 threads.

Select CPU cores as per the distribution requirements

Once you have configured everything click ok.

Step 5: In the System settings, go to Storage (from the left sidebar). Click on the [Optical Drive] Empty as shown in the image below.

You’ll be asked to browse to the Linux Mint ISO file you had downloaded earlier.

Once you select your ISO, click on the start button and that’s it! Now the ISO will start running as if you are booting from a live USB.

Next, you need to press enter whilst your option is start Linux Mint as per the picture below.

Step 6: Let’s start the installation procedure.

Choose the language you want for your Linux Mint virtual machine.

Choose your native language

I’m based in the UK, so I have a UK keyboard layout. You can choose the one you want.

Choose your keyboard layout according to your hardware configuration

You may check the box to download and install any third-party software during the installation.

You may install media codecs while installing Linux Mint

You can proceed to erase the disk and install Linux Mint.

Erase disk? Really?

This step may seem scary because you may think that it will harm your real system.

Let me assure you that it won’t do any damage to your actual disk. Remember you created 10-20 GB of virtual disk in step 3? Now you are inside that disk.

When it asks for erasing the disk, it is erasing the virtual disk created for it. It doesn’t impact your real system disk and its data.

It is safe to erase your disk only at a Virtual Machine level

Next, select your time zone and click continue. You may change time zone in Linux later as well.

You will be prompted to create your user account, your host name (computer’s name) and to choose a password. Once done, click continue to finalize the installation.

Please wait a few minutes for the process to complete.

Wait a few minutes for the process to finish

The installation has now finished. Click on “Restart now”.

Well done! You have successfully installed Linux Mint

When you reach this step, Linux Mint will be installed and ready to use!

You don’t have an installation medium so just power off the virtual machine.

Now to use your virtual machine, click on the start button.

You can explore a fully functional system, and at this time if you shut down Linux Mint like it was physically installed, it will automatically power off the virtual machine.

Enjoy Linux Mint in VirtualBox. I hope you were able to install Linux Mint in VirtualBox. If you face any issues, please let me know in the comment section. I’ll try to help you out.

How to Compress PDF in Linux [GUI & Terminal]

Thursday 14th of May 2020 06:17:15 AM

Brief: Learn how to reduce the size of a PDF file in Linux. Both command line and GUI methods have been discussed.

I was filling some application form and it asked to upload the necessary documents in PDF format. Not a big issue. I gathered all the scanned images and combined them in one PDF using gscan2pdf tool.

The problem came when I tried to upload this PDF file. The upload failed because it exceeded the maximum file size limit. This only meant that I needed to somehow reduce the size of the PDF file.

Now, you may use an online PDF compressing website but I don’t trust them. A file with important documents uploading to an unknown server is not a good idea. You could never be sure that they don’t keep a copy your uploaded PDF document.

This is the reason why I prefer compressing PDF files on my system rather than uploading it to some random server.

In this quick tutorial, I’ll show you how to reduce the size of PDF files in Linux. I’ll show both command line and GUI methods.

Method 1: Reduce PDF file size in Linux command line

You can use Ghostscript command line tool for compressing a PDF file. Most Linux distributions include the open source version of Ghostscript already. However, you can still try to install it just to make sure.

On Debian/Ubuntu based distributions, use the following command to install Ghostscript:

sudo apt install ghostscript

Now that you have made sure that Ghostscript is installed, you can use the following command to reduce the size of your PDF file:

gs -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -dCompatibilityLevel=1.4 -dPDFSETTINGS=/prepress -dNOPAUSE -dQUIET -dBATCH -sOutputFile=compressed_PDF_file.pdf input_PDF_file.pdf

In the above command, you should add the correct path of the input and out PDF file.

The command looks scary and confusing. I advise copying and pasting most of it. What you need to know is the dPDFSETTINGS parameter. This is what determines the compression level and thus the quality of your compressed PDF file.

dPDFSETTINGSDescription/prepress (default)Higher quality output (300 dpi) but bigger size/ebookMedium quality output (150 dpi) with moderate output file size/screenLower quality output (72 dpi) but smallest possible output file size

Do keep in mind that some PDF files may not be compressed a lot or at all. Applying compression on some PDF files may even produce a file bigger than the original. There is not much you can do in such cases.

Method 2: Compress PDF files in Linux using GUI tool

I understand that not everyone is comfortable with command line tool. The PDF editors in Linux doesn’t help much with compression. This is why we at It’s FOSS worked on creating a GUI version of the Ghostscript command that you saw above.

Panos from It’s FOSS team worked on creating a Python-Qt based GUI wrapper for the Ghostscript. The tool gives you a simple UI where you can select your input file, select a compression level and click on the compress button to compress the PDF file.

The compressed PDF file is saved in the same folder as the original PDF file. Your original PDF file remains untouched. The compressed file is renamed by appending -compressed to the original file name.

If you are not satisfied with the compression, you can choose another compression level and compress the file again.

You may find the source code of the PDF Compressor on our GitHub repository. To let you easily use the tool, we have packaged it in AppImage format. Please refer to this guide to know how to use AppImage.

Download PDF Compressor (AppImage)

Please keep in mind that the tool is in early stages of developments. You may experience some issues. If you do, please let us know in the comments or even better, file a bug here.

We’ll try to add more packages (Snap, Deb, PPAs etc) in the future releases. If you have experience with the development and packaging, please feel free to give us a hand.

Would you like It’s FOSS team to work on creating more such small desktop tools in future? Your feedback and suggestions are welcome.

CopyQ Clipboard Manager for Keeping a Track of Clipboard History

Wednesday 13th of May 2020 10:45:23 AM

How do you copy-paste text? Let me guess. You either use the right click menu to copy-paste or use Ctrl+C to copy a text and Ctrl+V to paste the text. The text copied this way is saved to ‘clipboard’. The clipboard is a special location in the memory of your system that stores cut or copied text (and in some cases images).

But have you ever been in a situation where you had a text copied and then you copy another text and then realize you needed the text you copied earlier? Trust me, it happens a lot.

Instead of wondering about finding the previous text to copy again, you can use a clipboard manager.

A clipboard manager is a handy little tool that keeps a history of the text you had copied. If you need to use the earlier copied text, you can use the clipboard manager to copy it again.


There are several clipboard managers available for Linux. In this article, I’ll cover one such tool that goes by the name CopyQ.

CopyQ Clipboard Manager

CopyQ is nifty clipboard manager that has plenty of features to manage your system’s clipboard. It is an open source software available for free for major Linux distributions.

Like any other clipboard manager, CopyQ monitors the system clipboard and saves its content. It can save both text and images from the clipboard.

CopyQ sits in the system tray and you can easily access it from there. From the system tray, just click on the text that you want. It will automatically copy this text and you would notice that the copied text moves on to the top of the saved clipboards.

In the system tray, it shows only the five recent clips. You can open the main window using the “Show/hide main window” option in the system tray. CopyQ saves up to 200 clips. You may edit the clipboard items here.

You may also set a keyboard shortcut to bring the clipboard with a few key combination. This option is available in Preferences->Shortcuts.

If you decide to use it, I advise enabling the autostart so that CopyQ runs automatically when you start your system. By default, it saves 200 items in the history and that’s a lot in my opinion. You may want to change that as well.

CopyQ is an advanced clipboard manager with plenty of additional features. You can search for text in the saved clipboard items. You can sort, create, edit or change the order of the clipboard items.

You can ignore clipboard copied from some windows or containing some text. You can also temporarily disable clipboard saving. CopyQ also supports Vim-like editor and shortcut for Vim fans.

There are many more features that you may explore on your own. For me, the most notable feature is that it gives me easy access to older copied text, and I am happy with that.

Installing CopyQ on Linux

CopyQ is available for Linux, Windows and macOS. You can get the executable file for Windows and macOS from its website.

For Linux, CopyQ is available in the repositories of all major Linux distributions. Which means that you can find it in your software center or install it using your distribution’s package manager.

Ubuntu users may find it in the software center if universe repository is enabled.

CopyQ in Ubuntu Software Center

Alternatively, you can use the apt command to install it:

sudo apt install copyq

Ubuntu users also have the option to use the official PPA and always get the latest stable CopyQ version. For example, at the time of writing this article, CopyQ version in Ubuntu 20.04 is 3.10 while PPA has newer version 3.11. It’s your choice really.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:hluk/copyq sudo apt update sudo apt install copyq

You may also want to know how to remove PPA later.

Do you use a clipboard manager?

I find it surprising that many people are not even aware of an essential utility like clipboard manager. For me, it’s one of the essential productivity tools on Linux.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the article, there are several clipboard managers available for Linux. CopyQ is one of such tools. Do you use or know of some other similar clipboard tool? Why not let us know in the comments?

If you started using CopyQ after reading this article, do share your experience with it. What you liked and what you didn’t like? The comment section is all yours.

What to do When You See “Repository does not have a release file” Error in Ubuntu

Tuesday 12th of May 2020 10:57:34 AM

One of the several ways of installing software in Ubuntu is by using PPA or adding third-party repositories. A few magical lines give you easy access to a software or its newer version that is not available by default in Ubuntu.

All thing looks well and good until you get habitual of adding additional third-party repositories and one day, you see an error like this while updating Ubuntu:

E: The repository ‘ focal Release’ does not have a Release file.
N: Updating from such a repository can’t be done securely, and is therefore disabled by default.
N: See apt-secure(8) manpage for repository creation and user configuration details.

In this tutorial for Ubuntu beginners, I’ll explain what does this error mean, why do you see it and what can you do to handle this error?

Understanding “Repository does not have a release file” error

Let’s go step by step here. The error message is:

E: The repository ‘ focal release’ does not have a release file

The important part of this error message is “focal release”.

You probably already know that each Ubuntu release has a codename. For Ubuntu 20.04, the codename is Focal Fossa. The “focal” in the error message indicates Focal Fossa which is Ubuntu 20.04.

The error is basically telling you that though you have added a third-party repository to your system’s sources list, this new repository is not available for your current Ubuntu version.

Why so? Because probably you are using a new version of Ubuntu and the developer has not made the software available for this new version.

At this point, I highly recommend reading my detailed guides on PPA and Ubuntu repositories. These two articles will give you a better, in-depth knowledge of the topic. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.

How to know if the PPA/third party is available for your Ubuntu version [Optional]

First you should check your Ubuntu version and its codename using ‘lsb_release -a’ command:

abhishek@itsfoss:~$ lsb_release -a No LSB modules are available. Distributor ID: Ubuntu Description: Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Release: 20.04 Codename: focal

As you can see, the codename it shows is focal. Now the next thing you can do is to go to the website of the software in question.

This could be the tricky part but you can figure it out with some patience and effort.

In the example here, the error complained about It is a PPA repository and you may easily find its webpage. How, you may ask.

Use Google or a Google alternative search engine like Duck Duck Go and search for “ppa numix”. This should give you the first result from which is the website used for hosting PPA related code.

On the webpage of the PPA, you can go to the “Overview of published packages” and filter it by the codename of your Ubuntu version:

For non-PPA third-party repository, you’ll have to check of the official website of the software and see if the repository is available for your Ubuntu version or not.

What to do if the repository is not available for your Ubuntu version

In case when the repository in question is not available for your Ubuntu version, here’s what you can do:

  • Delete the troublesome repository from your list of repository so that you don’t see the error every time you run the update.
  • Get the software from another source (if it is possible).

To delete the troublesome repository, start Software & Updates tool:

Go to the Other Software tab and look for the repository in question. Highlight it and then click on Remove button to delete it from your system.

Remove Ppa

This will delete the PPA or the repository in question.

Next step is to get the software from some other source and that’s totally subjective. In some cases, you can still download the DEB file from the PPA website and use the software (I have explained the steps in the PPA guide). Alternatively, you can check the project’s website if there is a Snap/Flatpak or Python version of the software available.

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