Install Sigil ePUB Creator/Editor in Linux

With devices like the Kindle and Nook becoming more and more popular, there are a wider variety of computer applications available to help create and edit eBooks.  One of the simplest to use is called Sigil, and it’s available for Mac, Windows and Linux.

But while the Mac and Windows installers do just what you’d expect, the Linux installer has a few issues.  The installation works as expected, but – at least in Ubuntu – Sigil doesn’t appear where you’d expect once the installation is through.

Still, it’s not too difficult to clean up after the installer.  Here’s how.

The first step is to open up your web browser and head over to the Sigil home page.  Now click the Download tab, to see a full list of all available downloads.

Download Tab On Sigil Homepage

The current version, as this article is being written, is version 0.3.4, but there is a pre-release installer for version 0.4.0 available; it is that installer that we’ll download.

Download Sigil

Note: in case you’re wondering, the installation issues we’ll experience has nothing to do with using pre-release software; all the issues happen with version 0.34 as well.

Once the file has downloaded (we download it to the Desktop), open a Terminal.

Open Terminal

Then you’ll type in three commands.  First we’ll ‘cd’ to the download directory, then we’ll make the file executable, and finally we’ll launch it.

cd to the download directory, chmod to set executable bit and run the installer

Note: in the above example, we launched the installer without root privileges.  Because of this, we’ll install Sigil to our Home directory.  To make Sigil available to all users, type “sudo” before running the .bin file.

The installer will now run.  First, select your language.

Select Language

Then click Yes to continue.

Click Yes to Continue

Now click Next once the Destination folder is set (you’ll only be able to choose a location if you launch the installer as root; otherwise you’ll use your Home folder, as shown).

Select Destination

Now the installer will extract and install Sigil.

Installing Sigil

Normally, that would be it, except instead of the installer placing Sigil in a logical menu location (such as the Office menu), it creates a new menu category and then forgets to provide an application icon.

Sigil After Installation

Not good.  Fortunately, although the process is a bit convoluted, it’s not too difficult to rectify this.

The first thing we’ll do, since we still have the Terminal open, is to open a Nautilus window (or whatever file manager you’re using), and navigate to a hidden directory.  That command is:

nautilus /home/ericcflem/.local/share/

Be sure to replace “ericcflem” with your own username, and be careful to include the period that preceeds local in the above command.

Once Nautilus opens, double-click to open the desktop-directories folder.

Open Desktop Directories Folder

In there should be a directory file.  It will have “Sigil.directory” at the end, after a long string of numbers and letters.  Delete this file.

Delete Sigil Directory File

We can now return to our previous folder (use the back or up arrow in the file manager). Now, open the applications folder.

Open Applications Folder

Inside this folder are all of our local application launchers.  There are two files we’re interested in.  The first is a dummy.desktop file (again preceeded with the same long string of numbers and letters.  We’ll get rid of it first.

Delete Dummy Desktop File

Stay in the same folder, and delete the sigil-program.desktop file.

Delete Sigil Program Desktop File

Again, stay in the same window.  When the installer finished a few steps ago, it placed an icon (actually an entirely separate launcher), on your desktop.  We need to drag it into the open window.

Drag Sigil Launcher To Applications Folder

Sigil now appears in an Other menu, with an icon.

Sigil in Other Folder

So we’re almost there.  We just need to get the launcher to appear somewhere logical (we’ll use the Office folder in this example), and it would be nice if the launcher was a bit more descriptive, and maybe had a comment.  At this point, go ahead and close the Nautilus window and return to the Terminal. Type the following (replace “ericcflem” with your own username, of course), which will open the launcher we just dragged into the applications folder, in a text editor.

sudo nano /home/ericcflem/.local/share/applications/sigil-desktop.desktop

Note: nano is a Terminal-based text editor.  If you’d feel more comfortable, feel free to “gksudo gedit” instead of “sudo nano” in the above command to use Gedit, the default GUI text editor.

Here is what the desktop entry file for Sigil looks like by default:

Desktop File Before Edits

As you can see, the only information it contains is the name of the application and the location of both the executable file and the application icon.  It doesn’t include a comment or a category, which is why it appears in the Other menu.  As you can see in the next screenshot, here is what the desktop file should look like when we’re done tweaking it.

Desktop File After Editing

Now, assuming you’re using nano, hit Ctrl-X on the keyboard to quit.  You’ll be asked if you want to save, so hit Y.

Save Edited File

After this, hit the Enter key, which tells nano to use the same name when saving, in effect overwriting the original with our modified version.

Click Enter To Overwrite Original

Note: again, if using Gedit, the process will be slightly different.

We can now go back and check our menu and see that yes, Sigil ePUB Creator/Editor (instead of simply Sigil), now appears in the Office menu, just the way we want.

Sigil In Office Menu

You can now open it.

Sigil Main Window

And that’s it.  In a previous article, we discussed how to create a new ePUB eBook with Sigil.

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