How to Install Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 emerges as a beacon of privacy, control, and user-centric design in digital communication. This guide will elucidate the process of how to install Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or 20.04 Focal Fossa, ensuring you harness the full potential of this groundbreaking messaging platform.

Key Features:

  • Decentralization: Element operates on the Matrix protocol, a decentralized network, allowing users to host their messages on chosen servers rather than a centralized entity.
  • Open Source: Element’s transparent nature invites users to inspect, contribute to, or craft their app version.
  • End-to-End Encryption: Every message is encrypted from sender to receiver, ensuring utmost privacy and security.
  • Interoperability: Element bridges communication gaps, facilitating chats across diverse platforms like IRC, Slack, and Discord.
  • Customizability: Users can tailor their client and host servers and dictate their data and privacy settings.

Why Choose Element?:

  • Data Sovereignty: By hosting your server, you retain complete data ownership.
  • Privacy-Centric: Element’s encryption and self-hosting capabilities offer unparalleled privacy.
  • Unified Communication: Element’s integrations reduce app clutter and ensure smooth communication.
  • Community-Driven Development: As an open-source tool, Element thrives on contributions from a global developer community.

Element’s philosophy intertwines user experience, privacy, and control, providing a holistic approach to digital communication. Element is a reliable and feature-packed ally as we navigate our increasingly digital lives. Dive into the subsequent guide to seamlessly integrate Element into your Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or 20.04 Focal Fossa environment.

Install Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via APT PPA

Step 1: Refreshing Your Ubuntu System Before Installation

Our journey towards installing Element begins with ensuring that our Ubuntu system is up to speed with the latest package updates. To do this, run the following command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Install Initial Packages for Desktop on Ubuntu

Before proceeding to the installation of Element, we must ensure some prerequisite packages are present in our system. These packages – software-properties-common, apt-transport-https, and curl – provide essential utilities that would be necessary at various stages of our installation process.

Here’s the command to install these packages:

sudo apt install software-properties-common apt-transport-https curl -y

In this command, apt install installs new packages (in this case, software-properties-common, apt-transport-https, and curl), and the -y flag confirms that we wish to proceed with the operation without prompting us for confirmation.

Step 3: Import APT PPA on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Before you can install Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04, you need to add its repository to your system. But for security purposes, we first import Element’s GPG key. This key will be used to verify the integrity and authenticity of the packages being installed.

curl -fSsL | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/element-io-archive-keyring.gpg > /dev/null

In this command, curl fetches the GPG key from the specified URL, and gpg --dearmor processes the key. The sudo tee command then writes the processed key to a specific file in your system.

Next, we add Element’s repository to our system’s list of package sources.

echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/element-io-archive-keyring.gpg] default main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/element-io.list

In this command, echo writes the repository’s details to the element-io.list file inside /etc/apt/sources.list.d/.

Step 4: Refresh the Packages Index

With the Element repository now added to our system, we need to instruct apt to refresh its packages list. This ensures that apt is aware of the new packages available for installation from the newly added Element repository.

sudo apt update

Step 5: Install Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Finally, we’ve reached the exciting part – installing Element! With all the preparatory steps completed, we can now ask apt to install the element-desktop package, which is the Element client for Linux.

sudo apt install element-desktop

Install Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via Flatpak and Flathub

This section will discuss an alternate method of installing Element on your Ubuntu system: using the Flatpak package manager. Flatpak, much like Snap, is a universal package system for software deployment, package management, and application virtualization. Its benefits include greater isolation of apps from the host system (improving security) and compatibility across different distributions of Linux.

Step 1: Enabling Flathub for Desktop on Ubuntu

Flathub is the primary app store for distributing applications as Flatpaks. It hosts a wide range of applications, including Element. Before we can install Element, we first need to add the Flathub repository to our Flatpak configuration.

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub

The flatpak remote-add command is used to add new repositories to Flatpak’s configuration, --if-not-exists ensures the command does nothing if the repository already exists, and the URL points to the Flathub repository.

Step 2: Install Desktop on Ubuntu via Flatpak Command

Now that we have Flathub enabled in our Flatpak configuration, we can install Element. We will use the flatpak install command, specifying that we want to install from Flathub and that the application we’re interested in is im.riot.Riot.

flatpak install flathub im.riot.Riot -y

This command tells Flatpak to install the im.riot.Riot package from the flathub repository. The -y flag confirms that we wish to proceed with the operation without prompting us for confirmation.

If your system does not have Flatpak installed, please refer to our guide on “How to Install Flatpak on Ubuntu” for step-by-step instructions on installing the most recent supported version of Flatpak.

By employing this method, you’re benefiting from the security and isolation features of Flatpak while ensuring that you can easily update Element in the future directly from Flathub. Remember, the future of computing is all about security and privacy, and with tools like Flatpak and applications like Element, we’re one step closer to that future.

Initiating Element with Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Now that we have successfully installed Element on our Ubuntu system, it’s time to get it up and running. Ubuntu offers two main methods for launching applications: Command Line Interface (CLI) and Graphical User Interface (GUI). Both are equally effective—it largely depends on your preference or the nature of the task.

Launching via CLI on Ubuntu

The Command Line Interface, commonly known as the terminal, is a text-based interface used to execute commands in the operating system. It might seem daunting to beginners, but it can be incredibly powerful and often more efficient for certain tasks.

To open Element using the terminal, type element and hit enter. Remember that Linux commands are case-sensitive; therefore, ‘Element’ and ‘element’ would be considered different commands.


Once the command is executed, Element should launch, displaying its GUI.

Alternatively, Flatpak installations will need to run the following command to launch Element:

flatpak run im.riot.Riot

Launching via GUI on Ubuntu

You can start Element from Ubuntu’s applications menu if you prefer using the Graphical User Interface (GUI). Here’s the path you need to follow:

Activities > Show Applications > Element

Just click on ‘Activities’ at your screen’s top left corner. Then, select ‘Show Applications’ (symbolized by a dotted square icon) at the bottom of the dock. It will display all your installed applications. Scroll through them or use the search bar to find ‘Element’. Click on the Element icon to launch it.

Screenshot showing the Element Desktop Client icon on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 desktop.Pin
Click the Element icon to launch the application on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04.

Tips on Getting Started with Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Embarking on your journey with Element on Ubuntu Linux, getting accustomed to the platform’s features and customization options for optimal usage is important. Below are some tips to help you get started.

General Tips with Desktop on Ubuntu

  • Explore the Settings: Familiarize yourself with the settings menu in Element. There, you’ll find options to customize your user profile, adjust notification preferences, manage connected devices, and more. Access it by clicking on your avatar in the top left corner and selecting ‘Settings’.
  • Explore Different Rooms: In Element, conversations occur in ‘rooms’. These rooms can be public or private, with multiple members or one-on-one conversations. Try joining public rooms to interact with the wider community or create your own private rooms for focused discussions.
  • Make Use of Emojis: Element supports emojis in messages, which can effectively express emotion or emphasize certain points in your communications.

Customization Tips with Desktop on Ubuntu

  • Customize the Appearance: Navigate to ‘Settings > General > Appearance’ to adjust the theme and layout of Element according to your preference. You can choose between light and dark themes or even customize your own.
  • Customize Notifications: Element offers flexible notification settings, which you can adjust per room. This is particularly useful if you’re a member of several rooms and want to prioritize notifications from certain ones.

Other Useful Tips with Desktop on Ubuntu

  • Encryption for Private Conversations: Element supports end-to-end encryption for private conversations. You can enable this in the settings of each room for additional privacy.
  • Using Keyboard Shortcuts: Element supports a variety of keyboard shortcuts for actions like sending messages, starting a voice/video call, and navigating through your rooms. These can help streamline your interactions with the platform.
  • Voice and Video Calls: Besides text-based communication, Element supports voice and video calls. You can initiate a call directly from a one-to-one room or use the ‘Start a call’ button in rooms with more members.
Screenshot of the Element Desktop Client's successful installation message on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04.Pin
Confirmation of the successful installation of the Element Desktop Client on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04.

Managing Desktop Installation with Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Mastering the maintenance of software installations is a key component of efficient system administration. This section will walk you through the management procedures for Element on Ubuntu Linux, covering updates and removal processes.

Update Desktop on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Consistently updating your software ensures you’re always running the latest features and security patches. The methods vary slightly depending on whether you initially installed Element via APT or Flatpak.

APT Update Command For Desktop on Ubuntu:

sudo apt update

Secondly, we upgrade the packages that are due for updates, which includes Element, using the following command:

sudo apt upgrade

Flatpak Update Command For Desktop on Ubuntu:

If you’ve installed Element via Flatpak, the update command is more straightforward. Simply enter the following command in your terminal:

sudo flatpak update

Remove Desktop from Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

You may find yourself needing to uninstall Element for one reason or another. Here’s how to remove it from your system using either APT or Flatpak.

APT Remove Command For Desktop on Ubuntu:

Begin by removing the Element software:

sudo apt remove element-desktop

Next, we will remove the Element repository to prevent it from being used in future installations or updates:

sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/element-io.list

For the sake of good system hygiene, it’s also advisable to remove the associated GPG key:

sudo rm /usr/share/keyrings/element-io-archive-keyring.gpg

Flatpak Remove Command For Desktop on Ubuntu:

For installations carried out using Flatpak, use the following command to uninstall Element:

sudo flatpak uninstall im.riot.Riot

Final Thoughts

Reflecting on our journey through this guide, we’ve walked through various stages of handling the Element application on an Ubuntu Linux system. This included exploring two distinct installation methods, usage instructions, helpful tips to enhance your Element experience, and an overview of system management tasks such as updating and uninstalling the software. All these steps are geared to facilitate your interaction with Element on Ubuntu Linux, ensuring a smooth and effective experience.

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