Setup on Linux

This is a brief guide to how you can get novelWriter running on a Linux computer.

There are currently install packages available for Ubuntu and Debian. For other distros it is recommended that you download either the full source or the minimal package and extract it to a practical location on your system and run the script.

Debian-Based Distros

A general Debian package can be downloaded from the main website. This package should work on both Debian, Ubuntu and Linux Mint.

If you prefer, you can also add the novelWriter repository on Launchpad to your package manager.

Ubuntu and Mint

You can add the Ubuntu PPA and install novelWriter with the following commands.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vkbo/novelwriter
sudo apt update
sudo apt install novelwriter


Since this is a pure Python package, the Launchpad PPA can in principle also be used on Debian. However, the above command will fail to add the signing key.

Instead, run the following commands to add the repository and key:

sudo gpg --no-default-keyring --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/novelwriter-ppa-keyring.gpg --keyserver hkp:// --recv-keys F19F1FCE50043114
echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/novelwriter-ppa-keyring.gpg] focal main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/novelwriter.list

Then run the update and install commands as for Ubuntu:

sudo apt update
sudo apt install novelwriter


Please use the Ubuntu 20.04 packages for Debian. The newer Ubuntu packages use a different compression that Debian doesn’t currently support.


There is also a Pre-Release PPA available with beta releases and release candidates of novelWriter. For Ubuntu, run the following commands:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:vkbo/novelwriter-pre
sudo apt update
sudo apt install novelwriter

Minimal Zip File

A minimal zip file is provided for Linux. You can download the latest zip file from the release page on GitHub, or from the main website. This zip file contains only the files actually needed to run novelWriter, and none of the additional source files for tests and documentation. You can extract the file to wherever you want, and run the steps below.

Step 1: Installing Dependencies

The dependencies of novelWriter are generally available from Linux distro repositories. For Debian and Ubuntu, they can be installed with:

sudo apt install python3-pyqt5 python3-lxml python3-enchant

If you prefer to install dependencies via PyPi, or the repository dependencies are out of date, you can install them with:

pip3 install --user -r requirements.txt

Step 2: Create Launcher Icons

A standard desktop launcher can be installed via the main setup script. It will create the needed desktop file and add it to the Applications menu. The necessary icons will also be installed, and a file association with .nwx files added.

To set this up, run the following from inside the novelWriter folder at the final location:

python3 xdg-install

This will only install the launcher and icons for the current user. To set up novelWriter for all users, run:

sudo python3 xdg-install

Uninstalling Icons

The steps taken by the xdg-install step can be reversed by running:

python3 xdg-uninstall

This will remove the desktop launcher and icons from the system. As above, whether this is done on the current user, or system wide, depends on whether this command is called with sudo or not.