How to Install Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu 24.04, 22.04 or 20.04

This guide will demonstrate using the command-line terminal to install Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu 24.04, 22.04, or 20.04 LTS. It covers two methods: installing via APT with a LaunchPad PPA maintained by Jaap Karssenberg, Zim’s primary developer, which contains the latest stable or snapshot (Dev) builds; alternatively, downloading and installing via the archive. As a third installation option, it also includes utilizing Flatpak with the Flathub repository.

Zim Desktop Wiki is a versatile tool designed to bring the concept of a wiki to your desktop. Simple yet powerful, it allows users to manage their knowledge, notes, and ideas in a structured manner. Zim is ideal for keeping track of project notes, brainstorming sessions, journal entries, or any other bits of information valuable in your daily life. Its markdown-like syntax offers an intuitive way to format text, while its ability to link pages creates a web of notes, making information retrieval straightforward and efficient.

Why Zim Desktop Wiki stands out:

  • Ease of Use: Zim’s interface is straightforward, making it accessible for beginners and power users alike.
  • Highly Customizable: Tailor your workspace with plugins and templates to fit your workflow.
  • Data Portability: Your data stays with you, in simple text files, ensuring accessibility and longevity.
  • Cross-Platform: Available on multiple platforms, Zim supports a wide range of users.
  • Linking Capability: Effortlessly link between pages and external resources to build a comprehensive knowledge base.
  • Version Control: Track changes and revisions within your documents easily.
  • Export Options: Zim supports exporting your pages to HTML, ensuring your work is shareable and web-ready.
  • Community Support: Benefit from the active community and extensive documentation for tips, tricks, and troubleshooting.

Transitioning into the technical aspects, installing Zim Desktop Wiki on your Ubuntu system can significantly enhance your productivity and organizational skills. Let’s dive into the installation process.

Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu via APT

Update Your Ubuntu System Before Zim Installation

Before we install Zim on Ubuntu, we must ensure our system is current with all the latest updates and upgrades. This practice is essential to maintain the stability of your system and avoid potential issues during the installation process. To do this, open your terminal and type in the following command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

This command will first update the list of available packages and their versions (sudo apt update).

Import Zim Desktop Wiki PPA

To ensure that we install the latest stable release of Zim with all its new features, we’ll leverage the PPA maintained by Jaap Karssenberg, Zim’s primary developer. The first step in this process is to install a couple of dependencies that allow us to manage PPAs and securely fetch packages over HTTPS:

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

The software-properties-common package provides the add-apt-repository command, which we’ll use to add the Zim PPA. The apt-transport-https package, on the other hand, allows APT to retrieve packages over HTTPS.

Next, we have a choice between two PPAs: the stable and the development PPAs. The stable PPA (jaap.karssenberg/zim) is recommended for most users as it contains well-tested versions of Zim. The development PPA (jaap.karssenberg/zim-snapshots), on the other hand, provides the latest, cutting-edge versions of Zim, which might be less stable. If both PPAs are added, the system will automatically choose the one with the newest version, which will typically be the development build.

To add the stable PPA, use the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jaap.karssenberg/zim -y

If you want to live on the edge and opt for the development PPA, use this command instead:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jaap.karssenberg/zim-snapshots -y

Refresh the Packages List After Zim PPA Import

Now that we’ve added the Zim PPA to our system, we need to update the packages list to reflect this new addition. This step is crucial as it allows your system to acknowledge the newly added source and fetch packages from it. To do this, run the following command:

sudo apt update

Install Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu via APT Command

With all the preliminary steps out of the way, we’re now ready to install Zim on our system. Run the following command to start the installation process:

sudo apt install zim -y

This command will fetch the Zim package from the PPA we added earlier and install it on your system. The -y flag is used here to confirm the installation, making the process smoother automatically.

Install Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu via Flatpak and Flathub

Flatpak is an innovative technology that offers a different way to install and manage applications on Linux systems, akin to Snap. It creates a containerized environment where applications can run independently of the system’s libraries. This has several advantages, including better security, isolation from system-level issues, and access to the latest application versions independent of the system’s release cycle.

Note: If you find that Flatpak is not yet installed on your system, don’t fret. You can refer to our comprehensive guide on “How to Install Flatpak on Ubuntu” for detailed, step-by-step instructions on how to install the most recent supported version of Flatpak.

Enabling the Flathub Repository For Zim

Before we can install Zim through Flatpak, we need to add the Flathub repository to our system. Flathub is a primary source for Flatpak applications, hosting many apps ready for installation. To enable Flathub, we need to execute the following command in the terminal:

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

This command adds the Flathub repository to your Flatpak configuration. The --if-not-exists flag ensures that the repository is added only if it’s not already in the system, thereby preventing duplicate entries.

Install Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu via Flatpak Command

Now that we have enabled the Flathub repository on our system, we can install Zim. We’ll use the flatpak install command to do this. Type the following command into your terminal:

flatpak install flathub org.zim_wiki.Zim -y

This command fetches and installs the Zim application from the Flathub repository, providing you with the latest stable version of Zim.

Launching Zim Wiki on Ubuntu via CLI or GUI

After successfully installing Zim, you may wonder how to get it up and running. The process is straightforward, and there are multiple ways to launch Zim, depending on your preference and installation method.

CLI Method to Launch Zim Desktop Wiki

If you are comfortable using the terminal or have it readily available, you can launch Zim directly from there. To run Zim, you need to type the following command into your terminal and press Enter:


This command calls and runs the Zim application, opening it right away.

If you have installed Zim via Flatpak, the command to run it is slightly different. For Flatpak applications, the flatpak run command is used. To launch Zim, type the following command into your terminal:

flatpak run org.zim_wiki.Zim

Again, this command will immediately open the Zim application.

GUI Method to Launch Zim Desktop Wiki

Zim can be accessed just like any other application on your system for those who prefer using the graphical interface. You can locate Zim by navigating the following path in your desktop environment:

Activities > Show Applications > Zim Desktop Wiki
Launching Zim Desktop Wiki from the application icon in Ubuntu.
Step-by-step launching of Zim Desktop Wiki from the Ubuntu application menu.

First-Time Tips with Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu

This section will explore tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Zim Wiki experience on Ubuntu Linux. From general tips to customization ideas, this guide will provide insight into making Zim Wiki a powerful tool for note-taking and organizational needs.

General Tips with Zim Desktop Wiki

  1. Note Linking: Zim Wiki allows you to create links between your notes. This feature makes it easier to navigate between related notes. You can create a link by simply typing the name of an existing page enclosed in double square brackets, like [[Page Name]].
  2. Task List Management: Zim Wiki has an integrated task list feature to help you manage your to-dos. To create a task, simply type [ ] followed by the task description in any of your notes. Zim will automatically recognize it as a task. You can check off tasks by replacing the space with an ‘x’: [x].
  3. Quick Note Creation: In Zim, you can quickly create a new note by simply typing the title of the new note in CamelCase (no spaces and each word capitalized) or enclosing it within double square brackets.
  4. Version Control: Zim Wiki can be integrated with version control systems like Git. This allows you to track changes over time, revert, and even collaborate with others on your notes.

Customization Tips with Zim Desktop Wiki

  1. Changing Themes: Zim Wiki supports custom themes. To change the theme, navigate to Edit > Preferences > Style. You can choose from the available styles or even create your own.
  2. Custom Toolbar: You can customize the toolbar in Zim to better suit your workflow. Navigate to Edit > Preferences > Toolbar and add or remove tools as needed.
  3. Keyboard Shortcuts: Zim Wiki has numerous keyboard shortcuts to speed up your note-taking process. You can also define your shortcuts. Navigate to Edit > Preferences > Shortcuts to view and customize the shortcuts.
  4. Plugins: Zim Wiki supports various plugins that can enhance its functionality. Navigate to Edit > Preferences > Plugins to enable or disable plugins. Some of the notable plugins include the Task List, Calendar, and Table of Contents.

Other Tips with Zim Desktop Wiki

  1. Backup Your Notes: While Zim Wiki is a reliable tool, regularly backing up your notes is always a good idea. You can do this manually or set up an automatic backup using tools like rsync or deja-dup.
  2. Export Notes: Zim Wiki allows you to export your notes in formats like HTML, Markdown, RST, and LaTeX. This can be done via File > Export.
  3. Spell Checking: Zim Wiki has a built-in spell checker. You can enable it via Tools > Spell Check.

These tips should help you get started with Zim Wiki on Ubuntu Linux. Remember, the more you use Zim Wiki, the more you will get used to its features and functionalities.

First-time launch of Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu indicating successful installation.
Initial launch of Zim Desktop Wiki on Ubuntu, indicating a successful installation.

Additional Zim Desktop Wiki Commands with Ubuntu

In this section, we’ll guide you through the procedures for updating and removing the Zim Wiki application on your Ubuntu Linux system. As a user, it’s crucial to keep your applications updated for optimal performance and security. On the other hand, removing it is a good practice to free up system resources if you no longer find a particular application useful.

Update Zim Desktop Wiki

Once installed via the Personal Package Archive (PPA), Zim Wiki becomes part of your system’s standard software sources. This means Zim Wiki will also be checked for updates whenever you initiate a system update.

To manually check for updates and upgrade your system, including Zim Wiki, execute the following command in your terminal:

sudo apt upgrade && sudo apt upgrade

This command first updates the list of available packages from all configured sources and then upgrades the installed packages to their latest versions. This command will apply if an update for Zim Wiki is available.

Alternatively, Flatpak installations can run the following command that will check for updates for all Flatpak installations:

flatpak update

Remove Zim Desktop Wiki

There might come a time when you no longer require Zim Wiki on your Ubuntu Linux system. The removal process is straightforward. To uninstall Zim Wiki, use the following command:

sudo apt remove zim

This command removes Zim Wiki and any redundant dependencies installed with it.

If you’ve decided not to use Zim Wiki in the future, it’s a good idea also to remove the PPAs that were added during the installation. This will prevent your system from checking these sources during future updates.

To remove the stable PPA, use the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:jaap.karssenberg/zim -y

If you’ve also added the development PPA and wish to remove it, execute the following command:

sudo add-apt-repository --remove ppa:jaap.karssenberg/zim-snapshots -y

The removal process is slightly different for those who have installed Zim Wiki via Flatpak. The following command will remove the Zim Wiki application:

flatpak uninstall org.zim_wiki.Zim -y

Please keep in mind that removing an application is a permanent action. Ensure you have saved any necessary data before proceeding with the uninstallation.


In wrapping up, this guide walked you through the ropes of installing Zim Desktop Wiki on your Ubuntu machine, offering a choice between the APT method with Jaap Karssenberg’s PPA, a manual archive install, or the Flatpak route. Our top tip? Lean towards the PPA for the latest features or Flatpak for ease and sandboxing. Zim is a fantastic tool for organizing your thoughts, projects, and notes, and we hope it serves you well. Remember, the key to making the most of Zim is to dive in, play around with its features, and customize it to fit your workflow. Happy note-taking!

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