How to Install novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

For writers seeking a specialized tool to craft their narratives, novelWriter emerges as a beacon. This software, designed for managing intricate writing projects, is a boon for those aiming to install novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa. Unlike many word processors that emphasize formatting, novelWriter prioritizes the structure and organization of your content, ensuring your focus remains on the story’s essence.

Distinguishing Features of novelWriter:

  • Structured Writing: novelWriter’s design allows writers to segment their work into chapters, scenes, or finer components, facilitating easy rearrangement and organization.
  • Markdown Integration: With support for basic markdown, writers can effortlessly format their content without delving into complex tools.
  • Focused Environment: Its interface is meticulously crafted to minimize distractions, ensuring writers remain engrossed in their narratives.
  • Universal Compatibility: Regardless of your operating system—Linux, Windows, or MacOS—novelWriter is adaptable.
  • Community-Driven: As an open-source platform, novelWriter thrives on contributions from its user base, evolving with its community’s collective insights and needs.

novelWriter vs. Conventional Word Processors:

  • Emphasis on Structure: While many word processors can entangle users in intricate formatting, novelWriter champions simplicity, urging writers to concentrate on their narrative’s structure.
  • Effortless Navigation: The software’s hierarchical design ensures swift transitions between scenes, eliminating tedious scrolling.
  • Enhanced Annotations: Each file within novelWriter can be supplemented with metadata and notes, invaluable for capturing spontaneous ideas or character nuances.
  • Revision Tracking: Unlike many mainstream word processors, novelWriter equips users with tools to monitor and manage revisions seamlessly.

With its writer-centric features, novelWriter is an indispensable tool for both budding and seasoned authors. The subsequent sections will guide you through the installation process on Ubuntu 22.04 Jammy Jellyfish or Ubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa, ensuring you’re well-equipped to embark on your literary journey.

Install novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via APT PPA

To install novelWriter in an Ubuntu system, we must follow a well-structured series of steps. This tutorial will break down each step, comprehensively explaining each command used. This should make it understandable to all users, regardless of their expertise level.

Step 1 – Updating Your Ubuntu System Before novelWriter Installation

Before we proceed with the novelWriter installation, it’s essential to ensure that your Ubuntu system is updated. Updating your system syncs all existing packages to their latest versions, reducing the possibility of software conflicts.

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

In the commands above, ‘sudo’ allows you to perform tasks that require administrative permissions. ‘apt’ is Ubuntu’s package handling utility, ‘update’ refreshes the list of packages, and ‘upgrade’ updates all currently installed software packages to their newest versions.

Step 2 – Importing novelWriter’s Personal Package Archive (PPA)

The recommended method to install novelWriter in Ubuntu is via its PPA, which is maintained by Veronica Berglyd Olsen. You have the option to choose between two versions of this PPA – the stable version and the pre-release version.

The stable repository has the latest stable release of novelWriter, while the pre-release repository offers the most recent features, albeit potentially unstable. Note that if you add both repositories, Ubuntu will default to the one with the most recent novelWriter version, usually the pre-release version.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vkbo/novelwriter -y
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vkbo/novelwriter-pre -y

In the above commands, ‘add-apt-repository’ is a script that adds an external APT repository to your sources list, while the ‘-y’ flag is used to automatically confirm all prompts.

Step 3 – Refreshing the APT Package List After PPA Import

Once the novelWriter PPA is added to your Ubuntu system, you should update your APT package list. This will notify the system of the new packages available in the PPA. You can do this with the following command:

sudo apt update

This command fetches package information from all configured sources, including the newly added novelWriter PPA.

Step 4 – Install novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 via APT Command

Now that your system is updated and the novelWriter PPA has been added, you can proceed to install the novelWriter software. This can be done using the ‘install’ command in conjunction with Ubuntu’s package handling utility, ‘apt’. Use the following command to download and install novelWriter:

sudo apt install novelwriter

This command instructs the system to download and install novelWriter on your Ubuntu system.

Launching novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Upon successfully installing novelWriter on your Ubuntu system, the next step is to launch the application. You can accomplish this in several ways depending on your preference or specific requirements.

Method 1 – Launching novelWriter from the Command Line on Ubuntu

One method to start using novelWriter is by executing a command in the terminal. This approach might appeal to those who are comfortable with command-line interfaces or those who need to launch the application programmatically. Here’s the command to start novelWriter:


In the command above, novelwriter is the name of the executable that starts the application. When you run this command, your system looks for an executable with this name in the directories listed in your PATH environment variable, and when found, it executes the file, thus starting the novelWriter application.

Method 2 – Launching novelWriter from the Graphical User Interface on Ubuntu

For desktop users who prefer using graphical interfaces, novelWriter can also be launched using its application icon. This method doesn’t require opening a terminal or writing any command. Instead, you navigate through the system’s graphical interface to find and launch the application. Here are the steps to follow:

  • Navigate to Activities.
  • Proceed to Show Applications.
  • Look for novelWriter.

In the steps above, Activities and Show Applications are graphical elements in the Ubuntu desktop environment that help you find and start applications. The final step is to locate novelWriter among the list of applications and click on its icon to launch it.

Screenshot displaying the novelWriter application icon on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux desktop.Pin
Click the novelWriter icon to launch the application on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.

First-time novelWriter Project Novel Setup on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

Setting up novelWriter for the first time requires some guidance. Upon launching the application, you are greeted with the “Open Project” screen that is essentially your project management dashboard. Since this is a fresh installation, you likely have no projects yet. So, let’s walk through the process of creating your first project.

Step 1 – Initiating a New Project with novelWriter on Ubuntu

In the “Open Project” screen, initiate the creation of a new project by clicking on the New button. This action directs you to the “Create New Project” tab.

Screenshot of the "New Project" initiation window for novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.Pin
Initiate a new writing project using novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.

Step 2 – Filling in Project Details with novelWriter on Ubuntu

In the “Create New Project” tab, you’ll see a few fields that you need to fill out. These include the project name, the novel title, and the author’s name. As indicated, the fields are quite straightforward, but they’re essential as they define your project’s identity. After filling out these details, proceed by clicking on the Next button.

Screenshot of the project details input window for novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.Pin
Fill in your project’s specifics using novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.

Step 3 – Choosing the Project Path with novelWriter on Ubuntu

The following tab prompts you to select the “Project Path.” This step is critical as it defines where on your system your novel project files will be saved. You might want to choose a location that’s easy for you to access and, preferably, one that you can back up to a cloud storage network. This backup option ensures that your work is safe even if your local copy is lost. You can even use services like Github, depending on your project’s size. After choosing a suitable location for your novel project, click on the Next button to proceed.

Screenshot of the project path selection window for novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.Pin
Choose where to save your novelWriter project on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.

Step 4 – Setting Up the Project Template with novelWriter on Ubuntu

Finally, you’ll land on the novel project template page. This interface offers you customization options for your novel layout, user interface, and more. It provides a pre-filled novel layout by default that you can modify according to your preferences.

Screenshot of the project template setup window for novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.Pin
Customize your project’s template using novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.

These steps should help you get started with novelWriter, allowing you to comfortably set up your first project. Now, you’re ready to let your creativity flow and start crafting your novel!

Screenshot indicating the successful completion of novelWriter's first-time setup on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.Pin
novelWriter is now set up and ready to use on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.
Screenshot of the default user interface of novelWriter upon first launch on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.Pin
Experience the default user interface of novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04 Linux.

Tips on Getting Started with novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

After setting up novelWriter, you might be eager to dive straight in and begin working on your next big novel. However, understanding some tips and tricks can greatly enhance your novel writing experience on Ubuntu Linux. This section will provide you with several key insights to help you get the most out of this powerful writing tool.

Exploring Customization Options with novelWriter on Ubuntu

novelWriter offers a range of customization options that allow you to tailor your writing environment according to your preferences. Here are a few areas you might want to explore:

  • Theme Settings: You can modify the application’s theme settings under Tools > Preferences > Appearance. Here, you can choose from several pre-defined themes or create your own, adjusting elements like background color, text color, and highlighting color.
  • Text Editor Customizations: Within Tools > Preferences > Editor, you can adjust the behavior of the text editor, setting preferences for text wrapping, line spacing, tab width, and more.

Utilizing Document Status and Labels with novelWriter on Ubuntu

novelWriter enables you to use document status and labels, which can be quite beneficial in keeping your work organized and tracking your progress. Here’s how you can use them:

  • Document Status: This feature allows you to mark your documents as Outline, Draft, Finished, or Archived. It’s a handy tool for keeping track of where you are in the writing process for each section of your novel.
  • Document Labels: You can assign labels such as Chapter, Scene, Note, etc., to your documents. These labels can assist you in quickly identifying the type of content in each document.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Efficiency with novelWriter on Ubuntu

novelWriter has various keyboard shortcuts designed to improve your efficiency. Some of the most useful ones include:

  • Ctrl + S: Save current document
  • Ctrl + W: Close current tab
  • Ctrl + Shift + W: Close all tabs except the current one
  • Ctrl + Q: Quit novelWriter

You can find the complete list of shortcuts under Help > Show Cheat Sheet.

Backup Your Work with novelWriter on Ubuntu

While novelWriter doesn’t have a built-in backup feature, it is crucial to maintain regular backups of your work. As previously mentioned, you can use a cloud storage network, or services like Github, depending on your project’s size.

Managing novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

In this section, we will delve into important aspects of managing your novelWriter application on Ubuntu Linux. Specifically, we’ll cover how to update the software and remove it if necessary.

Update novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

To ensure the optimal performance of novelWriter and access to the latest features, it’s critical to keep your installation current. By maintaining regular updates, you also ensure the software remains compatible with the latest system updates and other integrated applications.

To check for and install updates for novelWriter, utilize the command line terminal on your Ubuntu Linux system. Below is the command you should use:

sudo apt upgrade && sudo apt upgrade

This command does more than just update novelWriter. It ensures all the packages that use the APT package manager, including your system packages, are kept up-to-date. For Linux newcomers, it is recommended to run this command periodically to maintain system stability, even if you’ve configured your system for automatic GUI updates or notifications.

Remove novelWriter on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

In case you no longer need novelWriter, you can remove it from your Ubuntu Linux system. Use the following command to uninstall novelWriter:

sudo apt remove novelwriter

Remove novelWriter’s PPAs on Ubuntu 22.04 or 20.04

After uninstalling novelWriter, you might want to remove the corresponding PPAs (Personal Package Archives) if you are not planning on using the software again. The removal of PPAs ensures that your system’s package list remains clean, and it can also help to reduce the time required for system updates.

If you added the stable PPA when installing novelWriter, remove it with this command:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:vkbo/novelwriter -y

If you added the pre-release PPA, use this command to remove it:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:vkbo/novelwriter-pre -y

These steps will ensure that novelWriter is completely removed from your system, including the repositories used for its updates.

Closing Thoughts

Installing and managing novelWriter on Ubuntu Linux provides a seamless, efficient environment for writing, managing, and organizing your novel projects. This powerful application provides rich functionality to writers and simplifies the task of tracking the various components of large writing projects. By keeping the software updated, users can enjoy ongoing improvements and new features that enhance their writing experience. On the other hand, the software’s uninstallation process is also straightforward, ensuring that you can manage your system’s resources effectively.

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