How to Install Atom Text Editor on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS

Atom is a free and open-source text and source code editor that supports many cross-platforms such as macOS, Linux, and Microsoft Windows with support for plug-ins written in JavaScript and embedded Git Control, developed by GitHub.

The catchphrase that Atom calls itself is the “hackable text editor for the 21st century”. Atom, compared to competitors, is more user-friendly, with plenty of options for extensions to add syntax highlighting for languages and formats, add dynamic linting, and integrate debuggers, runtime environments, video and music player controls, and much more.

The following tutorial will teach you how to install Atom Text Editor on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS Focal Fossa using the command line terminal, and optional version builds of stable, beta, and nightly.

Update Ubuntu

First, update your system to ensure all existing packages are up to date. This will ensure no conflicts arise as best as possible during the installation.

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade -y

Install Dependencies

To complete the installation, you will need to install the following software packages using the following command in your terminal.

sudo apt install software-properties-common apt-transport-https wget ubuntu-keyring gnupg2 -y

If unsure, run the command; it will not harm you.

These are the most common software packages found on nearly all Linux distributions.

Import Atom Text Edit GPG Key & Repository

Import GPG Key

In the first step, you will need to download the GPG key.

sudo wget -O- | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/atom.gpg

Next, import the repository using the following command.

echo "deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/atom.gpg] any main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/atom.list

Now update your repository list to reflect the new repository changes:

sudo apt update

Install Atom Text Editor

Install Atom Text Editor Stable

Once you have imported the repository, you can install Atom Text Editor using the following.

sudo apt install atom -y

Confirm the installation and version build with the following command.

atom --version

Install Atom Text Editor Beta

For most users, installing the beta is to see the upcoming release for stable; this is often recommended before nightly.

sudo apt install atom-beta -y

Confirm the installation and version build with the following command.

atom-beta --version

Install Atom Text Editor Nightly

The Atom nightly is available for those who do not mind using the development branch. This is the most cutting-edge version available but beware, this will likely be unstable and contain bugs even to break, be sure to install stable to fall back to.

sudo apt install atom-nightly -y

Confirm the installation and version build with the following command.

atom-nightly --version

Note that you can install both the stable, beta, and nightly text editors.

How to Launch Atom Text Editor

With the installation complete, you can run Atom in a few different ways.

Remember to replace the atom example with atom-beta or atom-nightly for the terminal launch command.


However, this isn’t practical, and you would use the following path on your desktop.

Activities > Show Applications > Atom.


The first time you open Atom Text Editor, you will see the following.


How to Update Atom Text Editor

Updating can be done using the terminal. Run the APT update command in your terminal as you would check your entire system for any updates.

sudo apt update

If one is available, use the upgrade option:

sudo apt upgrade

Desktop users would receive notices about updating packages, but I recommend running the terminal commands often to ensure all updates are occurring and installed.

How to Remove (Uninstall) Atom Text Editor

To remove text editors, use the following command; remember this is the same command for both stable and unstable versions.

Remove Atom Stable

sudo apt autoremove atom -y

Remove Atom Beta

sudo apt autoremove atom-beta -y

Remove Atom Nightly

sudo apt autoremove atom-nightly -y

Note unused dependencies will also be removed.

Next, use the following command for users who want to remove Atom Text Editor altogether.

sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/atom*.list

Finally, delete the GPG key.

sudo rm /usr/share/keyrings/atom*.gpg

Comments and Conclusion

If you’re looking for an editor that is both easy to use and fast, Atom should be at the top of your list. With its huge selection of plugins, you can customize it to fit your needs. And if you ever get stuck, there are plenty of online resources to help you out.

For more information on Atom, visit the official documentation.


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