GitHub Desktop is a popular software with a user-friendly interface for managing and interacting with Git repositories. Git is a widely used version control system essential for software development, allowing multiple people to collaborate on the same codebase and keep track of changes over time. GitHub Desktop simplifies this process by providing an easy-to-use graphical interface, making it more accessible to non-technical users.
GitHub Desktop has become a popular choice among software developers and non-technical users alike due to its ease of use and familiarity with the GitHub platform. GitHub, the parent company of GitHub Desktop, is one of the largest web-based Git repositories, providing an integrated solution for version control, code review, and project management.
GitHub Desktop is not the only software available for managing Git repositories. Still, its popularity can be attributed to its intuitive interface, seamless integration with the GitHub platform, and regular updates and improvements. Other popular Git clients include GitKraken, Sourcetree, and TortoiseGit, but GitHub Desktop remains a favorite among users.
If you’re using Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa LTS, there are three options to install GitHub Desktop. The first option is to use Flatpak with the Flathub repository, which can be easily installed. The second option is to manually download and install the .deb package, which is also straightforward. The third option is to use the apt third-party repository, which can be added to your system and used to install GitHub Desktop using the command-line interface. All three options are user-friendly and accessible to users with varying levels of technical ability.
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Before starting the installation process, it’s essential to ensure your system is up-to-date to prevent conflicts. You can do this by using the following command in the terminal:
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
This command updates your system’s package lists and installs any available updates, ensuring you have the latest software installed.
Method 1: Install GitHub Desktop with .deb Package
GitHub currently supports only Windows and macOS by default, but Linux users can access the platform through a project called “shiftkey/desktop.” This Linux fork offers packages for downloading across various Linux distributions.
To get started, navigate to the releases page and obtain the latest release. While the guide recommends installing the “.deb” package, you may also choose to install the appimage if you’re familiar with it and prefer it.
To download the latest release, use the following command in your terminal:
This command downloads and installs version 3.1.7 RC1 as an example. Replace <filename> in the command below with the name of the “.deb” file you’ve downloaded:
sudo dpkg -i <filename>.deb
Example with 3.1.7 RC1:
sudo dpkg -i GitHubDesktop-linux-3.1.7-linux1.deb
For Ubuntu users who may be unfamiliar, dpkg is a package manager used to install, remove, and manage Debian packages. It is a low-level tool for installing .deb packages on your Ubuntu system.
The “-i” flag is a command option instructing dpkg to install the specified package. When using dpkg with the “-i” flag, you provide the filename of the package you want to install as an argument.
Method 2: Install GitHub with APT Package Manager
The second option for installing GitHub Desktop is similar to the first method. Currently, two APT third-party repositories in the United States act as a mirror for the shiftkey/desktop GitHub project. These repositories are recommended and listed on the project’s page. This method is ideal because it allows for easy updating of your GitHub Desktop application and other packages. However, some users in other parts of the world may encounter issues connecting to a US mirror. This is not expected to affect the majority of users.
Here are two mirrors. Using the first one is recommended, but you can use the second one if you encounter any issues.
Import GPG key and repository for @shiftkey:
wget -qO - https://apt.packages.shiftkey.dev/gpg.key | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /etc/apt/keyrings/shiftkey-packages.gpg > /dev/null
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/etc/apt/keyrings/shiftkey-packages.gpg] https://apt.packages.shiftkey.dev/ubuntu/ any main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/shiftkey-packages.list'
Alternative mirror by @mwt:
wget -qO - https://mirror.mwt.me/shiftkey-desktop/gpgkey | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /etc/apt/keyrings/mwt-desktop.gpg > /dev/null
sudo sh -c 'echo "deb [arch=amd64 signed-by=/etc/apt/keyrings/mwt-desktop.gpg] https://mirror.mwt.me/shiftkey-desktop/deb/ any main" > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mwt-desktop.list'
After importing one of the mirrors, it is recommended that you run a quick APT update to ensure that the newly added lists are reflected.
sudo apt update
To install GitHub Desktop, use the following command:
sudo apt install github-desktop
Method 3: Install GitHub Desktop with Flatpak and Flathub
The third method to install GitHub Desktop on Ubuntu involves using Flatpak, a powerful utility that simplifies installing and managing Linux applications.
Flatpak provides a secure and isolated environment in which applications can run on your system, offering a range of benefits such as better stability, improved security, and easier management of dependencies.
To get started with Flatpak, you’ll need to install it on your Ubuntu system by running the following command in the terminal:
sudo apt install flatpak
It’s crucial to reboot your system before proceeding. Failing to reboot your system can cause various issues, including problems with application icons, malfunctioning applications, and system instability.
To use Flatpak, you must enable it on your Ubuntu system by executing a command in your terminal. The command you need to run is as follows:
flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo
Now install Github using the following flatpak command:
flatpak install -y flathub io.github.shiftey.Desktop
This command downloads and installs the GitHub Desktop application, including all necessary dependencies, onto your Ubuntu system.
How to Launch GitHub Desktop
Now that you’ve successfully installed GitHub Desktop on your Ubuntu system, you can launch it differently depending on how you installed it.
First, if you have your terminal open, you can launch the GitHub desktop client using the following command:
Flatpak users, you can use the following command to launch immediately:
flatpak run io.github.shiftey.Desktop
Alternatively, you can find GitHub Desktop on your desktop by clicking “Activities” and selecting “Show Applications.” This lists all installed applications on your system, including GitHub Desktop. You can click on the application to launch it and start using it for your projects.
Example of opening GitHub Desktop application icon:
After launching GitHub Desktop on your Ubuntu system, you can log in to your account and use the desktop client for your Git purposes.
Select an existing repository or clone a new one to your local machine to get started. You can also use the application to create new branches, commit changes, and push them to your remote repository.
Here are a few tips to help you get started with GitHub Desktop on Ubuntu:
- Use the search feature to find and filter repositories easily.
- Use the commit summary to provide a clear and concise message about your changes.
- Use pull requests to collaborate with others and review code changes before merging.
- Use the branch comparison view to review changes between branches and resolve conflicts.
- Make use of keyboard shortcuts to improve your workflow and save time.
Example of GitHub desktop client launched on Ubuntu:
Update GitHub Desktop
To update your GitHub Desktop installation on Ubuntu, the process differs slightly depending on whether you installed it via Flatpak, .deb package, or APT.
For Flatpak installations, you can run the following command in the terminal to check for updates:
If you installed GitHub Desktop using the APT mirror, you could run the standard APT update and upgrade commands:
sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade
However, if you installed GitHub Desktop using the .deb package, you must update it manually. To do this, you can visit the official GitHub Desktop releases page, download the latest .deb package, and install it using the dpkg command.
Remove (Uninstall) GitHub Desktop
If you’re no longer interested in having GitHub Desktop installed on your Ubuntu system, you can remove it using a simple command in the terminal.
If you installed GitHub Desktop using the APT package manager, you could use the following command to remove the desktop client:
sudo apt remove github-desktop
If you do not plan to reinstall GitHub using this method again, it is recommended to remove the APT repository. Use the appropriate command based on the repository you imported:
sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/shiftkey-packages.list
sudo rm /etc/apt/sources.list.d/mwt-desktop.list
For installations using Flatpak, you can use the following command to remove GitHub Desktop, including all its data:
flatpak remove -y --delete-data io.github.shiftey.Desktop
This command ensures that all associated data and configuration files are deleted from your system, freeing up space and ensuring a clean uninstallation.
However, if you installed GitHub Desktop using the .deb package, you’ll need to use the dpkg command to remove it manually. You can use the following command to remove the package:
sudo dpkg -r github-desktop or sudo apt remove github-desktop
This command removes the package from your system but doesn’t delete any associated data or configuration files. If you want to remove these, use the –purge option.
In conclusion, installing GitHub Desktop on Ubuntu can be achieved using one of three methods: the .deb package with dpkg, the Flatpak package with Flathub, or the APT mirror repository.
Using the .deb package with dpkg allows for direct installation on your Ubuntu system, with easy access through the terminal. However, manual updating and removal may be required, and the package may not include all necessary dependencies.
The Flatpak package with Flathub provides a streamlined installation process and access to various dependencies through a centralized repository. This package is sandboxed, providing an additional layer of security, and can be easily updated through the terminal. However, the installation may require more space, and additional configuration may be necessary to access the application.
The APT mirror repository method provides easy installation and updating of GitHub Desktop, with easy package management and integration with other system software. However, some users may experience issues connecting to a US mirror.
The choice between the three methods depends on your specific requirements and preferences. Following the appropriate steps for your chosen method, you can quickly and easily install GitHub Desktop on your Ubuntu system and enjoy a streamlined and efficient software development experience.