Foliate Linux GTK eBook Reader 2.0 Released With A Plethora Of Changes

Foliate Linux GTK eBook reader had a major new release. The latest 2.0 version comes a redesigned user interface that works better on smaller screens and other important changes, a new continuous scrolling layout, e-reader style navigation, new themes, and much more.

Foliate Linux ebook reader 2.0

Foliate is a free and open source GTK eBook reader for Linux, built with GJS and Epub.js. It supports .epub, .mobi, .azw, and .azw3 files that can be read in multiple layouts, including two-page and scrolled view. On top of that, the application features:

  • Customizable font face and size, line-spacing, margins, full justification, auto-hypenation, zoom and brightness
  • Reading progress slider with chapter marks
  • Bookmarks and annotations
  • Quick dictionary lookup with Wiktionary, Wikipedia, and dictd, or translate text with Google Translate
  • 10 built-in themes including light and dark, sepia, Solarized and Gruvbox Light and Dark, as well as support for custom themes
  • Find in book
  • Keyboard shortcuts and touchpad gestures
  • Basic text-to-speech support with eSpeak NG and Festival

Besides these important to have features for an eBook viewer, the application also has various minor features that many will find useful, like viewing an eBook's metadata, remember where you left off, fullscreen mode, and more.

Foliate 2.0

The latest Foliate eBook reader 2.0 comes a plethora of changes, especially to its user interface.

For this release, the application interface was redesigned to work better on smaller screens, including on phones.

Foliate 2.0 works on any screen size (including its Preferences window); when the sidebar is disabled in its Preferences, the headerbar is hidden and shown as an overlay on mouse-over

Also, until this release, this Linux eBook reader only supported a "basic" fullscreen mode - that's because you couldn't access the header bar while in this mode, but with Foliate 2.0, the headerbar and progress bar now auto-hide while in fullscreen, allowing for a distraction-free reading experienceWhen you disable the sidebar from its preferences (you don't just hide it from the header bar, that's not enough), the headerbar is hidden by default and shown as an overlay on mouse-over, even when not in fullscreen mode; as a side note, this does not work if you enable the Realistic Shadows option.

Another interface-related change in this release is the addition of E-reader style navigation: go to the previous or next page by tapping on the left or right part of the view; tap on the middle to toggle header bar and progress bar.

Foliate 2.0 Linux eBook reader using a traditional titlebar and menubar

For those who prefer a traditional titlebar and menubar, Foliate 2.0 comes with a new experimental option for that. The option can be found in the application preferences, and requires restarting Foliate to use it. The traditional manubar may also be automatically displayed depending on the used desktop environment.

New location popover

More interface-related changes in Foliate 2.0:

  • Various location information, as well as a clock, can now be displayed in the footer
  • A new location popover (Ctrl + L) that shows reading time estimates and allows skipping to locations
  • Annotations, bookmarks, and find results now show chapter titles
  • When looking up words in dictionaries, the query can now be edited
  • New shortcuts for viewing metadata (Ctrl + I) and preferences (Ctrl + ,)

Foliate 2.0 also comes with some eBook reading changes. Most importantly, a continuous scrolling layout (Menu button -> Advanced -> Continuous). According to the epub.js documentation, in this mode the application displays "as many sections as need to fill the screen, and preload the next section offscreen. This enables seamless swiping / scrolling between pages on mobile and desktop, but is less performant than the default method." (here the default method being to only display a single section at a time).

New option to use decorative (realistic) shadows that mimic the appearance of a real book

Other reading improvements in this release:

  • Option to show decorative shadows that mimic the appearance of a real book (Menu button -> Advanced -> Realistic Shadows)
  • Ability to zoom in and zoom out
  • Improved image viewer with "save as" option
  • Open copies of a book in new windows (Ctrl + N)
  • Reload book (Ctrl + R)
  • New built-in themes: Gray, Solarized, Gruvbox, Nord

I wasn't kidding when I said this is a major release. There are even more changes in Foliate 2.0:

  • Ability to select text across pages
  • Find selected text in book
  • Speak selected text or from the selected location
  • Spellcheck notes (requires new optional dependency gspell)
  • Export annotations to Markdown
  • Options to use custom colors for highlights
  • Support for Apple Books theme attribute, which allows books to detect themes without JavaScript
  • WebKit's developer tools can now be enabled
  • The settings schemas has been reorganized
  • The format for custom themes has changed
  • Locations are now 1024 characters in size
  • Bug fixes

Download Foliate

The latest Foliate 2.0 can be installed from FlatHub and the Snap Store. While the application is available in the repositories for quite a few Linux distributions, it hasn't yet been updated to the latest version in most cases. You may also build Foliate from source.

There's also a Foliate 2.0 DEB package available for download on the application GitHub releases page, that should work on Debian, Ubuntu, and Linux distributions based on these, like Linux Mint, Pop!_OS, Elementary OS, Zorin OS, and so on. I only tested it on Ubuntu 20.04 though (and I didn't run into any issues).