The Return of Scrivener

The Last Open Beta Lives on in AppImage Format

Attila Orosz
The Return of Scrivener

Scrivener, the uncontested ruler of the writing-software landscape, had sadly never been released for Linux. While the last beta version remains open and free to use forever, in newer Linux distros installation was far from straight-forward or pain-free. Until today.

Scrivener itself hardly needs a lot of introduction. Be it non-fiction, from textbooks to academic research, fiction, from novels to short stories, stage or screenplays that you write; you would be hard-pressed to find a more versatile tool to organise your manuscript(s), notes, research, ideas, whatnot, notwhat, etc. Scrivener provides a lot of functionality in an accessible and user-friendly format, and while not free (in either way it might be), the affordable pricetag makes it more than worth paying for, to anyone serious about writing.

Edit 27/08/2018: The 64 bit AppImage has been updated to work correcty on Arch and derivatives (see comments). Also the incorrect qt4-qtconfig instructions have been replaced with the correct commands, so that y'all can enjoy Scrivining in style. :)

No love for Linux...

Having been in beta for a long time, the announcement of 1.9.0.1 beta in late 2015 also marked the end of Linux development. The devs have removed the time-expiry feature, so that Linux users can continue using their software as long as they like, with no updates to be expected, which was a most gracious gesture from them. (The kind that makes you want to be able to buy their software for Linux even more which, unfortunately, remains quite impossible for now).

While the beta version is as nearly stable as any production-grade application, and the last version was more than usable in terms of features, on newer Linux versions the provided packages would, unfortunately, fail to install due to dependency problems. Linux users were left Srcivenerless...

The Horror!


AppImage for the rescue!

For those who have not heard about it, AppImage is a distribution-agnostic, self-containing packaging format, that can hold an application's binaries along with any or all dependencies it might need, or libraries that might be unavailable on a target system.

This is very useful when running newer software on a more "mature" distribution, like e.g. Debian Stable, as the AppImage itself can package any libraries not yet included in the distro, but the process can also be reversed: Older apps, like Scrivener, can package their own version of any (possibly missing) dependencies, and run on newer systems too. So after contacting the developers, and obtaining permission to host these AppImages...


...drumroll...

The Way of Linux presents the mummified Scrivener 1.9.0.1 beta!

(Yay!)


...packaged for eternity (or until some dependency breaks again). For free. Forever. (Or until the Scrivener team finally decides there is money to be made from a Linux version and resurrects development (at which point we'd all run for our credit cards anyway.) Available in both 64- and 32-bit formats, the AppImages have been tested on all Ubuntu versions between 16.04—17.10 and Debian 8, and 9, but should run on most other distros as well. Rejoice now, O Linux user, for thou canst Scriven once again!

Download and run

Having Scrivener on Linux again is as easy as downloading the tarball containing the AppImage for your architecture (32- or 64-bit), and extracting it to /opt/Scrivener. (The location is optional, but having it in the prescribed directory would make sure the below Desktop entries will also work seamlessly.)



While double-clicking an AppImage should offer to integrate it into your system, creating the appropriate Desktop and menu entries, it is possible that for whatever reason this does not work as expected. If that is the case, and you want to easily integrate Scrivener into your system, download the tarball (appropriate for your architecture) from the link below, and extract its contents to either the /usr or the ~/.local directory. Included is a Scrivener.desktop file, and an application icon, with which you can easily start Scrivener like any other app.



When using the provided desktop file, either place the downloaded AppAimage into /opt/Scrivener or change the executable location in the Desktop entry manually to the actual location of the AppImage.

That is all. No installation, no worrying about dependencies, just (double-)click, run, and um... Scriven! Whatever that means.

Bonus: Fixing Ugly Qt4 styles on GTK Desktops

As Scrivener's UI had been written in Qt4, it is possible that you will look at some really ugly, unthemed window, with controls that look like you're suddenly back in 1997.

Unthemed Scrivener Window

That is because Qt4 applications will no longer automatically inherit the system's GTK theme. (For whatever reason, GTK system developers thought that was a good idea).

Fortunately, the fix is quite simple:

  • First you'll need to install qt4-qtconfig:
    sudo apt install qt4-qtconfig
  • Then run qtconfig from either the terminal by typing the same, or from the menu by finding and running Qt Settings.

  • On the Appearance tab, set the theme to Gtk+. (Or whichever look you fancy.)

  • Save and exit
  • Run Qt Settings again, this time it will load with the Gtk-theme.
  • Now you want to go over to the Fonts tab, and change the font style to Regular, otherwise all menus will appear bold and italic due to some weird bug.
  • Close Qt Settings, and Start Scrivener
  • Et Voilà! Scrivener will once again look like a real application.

Themed Scrivener Window

So, if you have not started writing the next bestseller yet, you officially have no more excuses not to start writing it right away.

Happy Scrivening! (Whatever that means.)


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