Scrivener, Now for Linux!

The folks over at have a rather nifty writer's tool called Scrivener. For years, it's been an OS X-only program for novelists and screenwriters that acts like a project management tool for big writing projects. Linux users may be familiar with Writer's Café from, which is a similar program. Although Scrivener is a little more expensive ($45 vs. $40 for Writer's Café), its features make it something any novelist should check out. And, if you try it during the beta period, Scrivener is free.

Unfortunately, users with existing licenses for the OS X version of Scrivener cannot transfer that license to the Linux version. Perhaps once the final version is released, the Literature and Latte folks will change their minds. Either way, if you're a writer, you'll want to check out Scrivener or Writer's Café. Both are neat packages, and now both are Linux-compatible!

UPDATE: The Linux version seems to be stalled in Beta. Info is HERE, on the "Windows" page.  Scroll down for a link to the Linux version.


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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ppyo's picture

It would be interesting to compare Scrivener, WritersCafe, and Storybook.
From the Storybook website (
"Storybook is a free Open Source novel-writing software for creative writers, novelists and authors which will help you to keep an overview of multiple plot-lines while writing books, novels or other written works."

Ppyo - A proud Linux user since '96.
Distros in use: Ubuntu, Jolicloud, Android, Zubuntu/Cacko (Zaurus).

Scrivener and Hunspell dicts

Janis's picture

Some time ago I was contacted by an user of Scrivener on subject. I tried to fiddle around trying to introduce latest aspell dictionary to no avail and had to upset the user.

How it is now? Do you plant to introduce support to those? I have impression Hunspell and it's dics development is much more intense than aspell's used by Scrivener.

besides - the linux version

Janis's picture

besides - the linux version can not be run on 64 bit linux


daretoeatapeach's picture

Good thing I didn't know that because I've running it in 64-bit Kubuntu for quite some time.

Scrivener and Hunspell dicts

Janis's picture

Some time ago I was contacted by an user of Scrivener on subject. I tried to fiddle around trying to introduce latest aspell dictionary to no avail and had to upset the user.

How it is now? Do you plant to introduce support to those? I have impression Hunspell and it's dics development is much more intense than aspell's used by Scrivener.

Missing features in the Linux version

Lee Powell's picture

Hi and thanks for writing about Scrivener,

Although we don't officially support Linux at the moment, our Windows version is regularly compiled to run on Linux. We don't have the resources at this time to tweak it into a polished, native-feeling Linux application, and so it will continue to run as free beta software for the foreseeable future, until such time as we are able to give it the extra attention required to move it towards an official, commercial release (which we hope to do eventually, although it may be some time down the road). You can find out about the Linux beta, and download builds, from the Linux section of our user forums:

What's missing in Linux currently is native support for odt, doc, docx import and export of doc and docx. Scrivener for Linux also lacks a pdf reader. These are not difficult problems to solve - they just take time, and this is something I don't have a lot of right now given the imminent Windows release.

Scrivener for Linux does have the same native rtf engine and supports html, text, pdf export, odt export,and supports both compiling to ePub and .Mobi, as well as support for most media images, video and audio.

Other than these missing components it's the same code base, only indefinitely free in beta phase for the foreseable future.

Lee - Scrivener Win/Linux developer

Seriously worth investigating...

Keith Daniels's picture

I read this article and went and read all the advertising, testimonials and descriptions available on their web site, and was seriously impressed with what the Mac version could do. I also decided that this "could be" a fantastic programmers tool, for writing code and creating the comments and user documentation--since it allows you to link and organize everything all at the same time. I came to this conclusion after reading all the tutorials and seeing how a lot of other people used it.

I downloaded and installed it--not hard after I found the wiki and searched for Linux in it and found the Linux page. There is NO organized info on how to install and set it up on Linux. There is a lot of information but you have to search for it. The wiki's search feature only returned individual post not the threads so you got a thousand hits.

After I installed it, it ran from the command line and everything looked good but when I tried to experiment with the tutorial project file it would not save it and had path/permission problems, the same with a new project. As far as the interface goes, I couldn't tell for sure (because I couldn't run a project) but there seemed to be several icons and menu links that either did nothing or did unexpected things. I did not search for the Ubuntu specific deb files, which I could have installed, and may have worked better than the generic Linux tar file.

So... I don't think the Linux version is ready for "new users" that want to use it in a production environment... yet--but I WANT IT NOW!... Since there is no "plan" to finish and release a Linux version anytime soon, I think I will set up a Virtualbox for Windows and get the latest Windows Beta version and do my production work on it until the commercial Windows version is available and then buy and run it until a production level version is available for Linux.

I hate doing that, the money is not a problem at approx $40, I just hate dealing with windows... But for the first time I found a program that I think is worth all that hassle.

I do recommend that everyone who is slightly interested visit the site and look around until you get a good idea of the things it can do--to me it's an amazing tool.

All the new OSs and windowing systems are oriented towards content consumption instead of content production.

--Steve Daniels 2013

New beta end of Sept

Lee Powell's picture

Hi Keith,

Thanks for the feedback. There will be a new beta released end of Sept for both Linux and Windows. I'm hoping to have time to put together a Linux installer to prevent the issues you have mentioned - as all the things you mentioned should just work.

I also like the idea of storing code in Scrivener. I first had the idea to do this when I heard some legal folks were storing contract templates and clauses in the tool, and selecting various clauses on a client by client basis and then generating a draft contract. Why couldn't the same functionality work for developers producing skeleton code I thought? And I been doing exactly that ever since.

I have a slightly customized build with a very basic colored syntax highlighter for programming languages I frequently use like c++ and ruby - each language has it's own keyword file making it easy to add new languages. This allows me to store many fragments of code I frequently re-use and find code snippets quickly in a way that makes sense to me. I can then select one or multiple snippets and compile to text to form skeleton code for a new project. I've never thought there would be a public demand for this. It might be worth considering a plug-in for functionality. I'll add this to the wish list.


Thanks for the update on the

Keith Daniels's picture

Thanks for the update on the releases.

Re: coding in Scrivener.

You can already do what you are describing using Kate's templates & snippets along with Autokey, but that is really no more than just increasing your typing speed and accuracy. IDEs also have template insertion features and other things that speed up the rote part of coding and testing--but they do little to help you organize and structure you thoughts about the totality of what you are trying to achieve and keep track of all the little things that you have to do. That is what I want to use Scrivener for and that is what writers like about Scrivener. (Not that I wouldn't store code in it...)

Writing a book might be mentally a lot different from writing code--but the organizational requirements, need for structuring and necessity for finding info about some segment of what you are creating are not all that different.

What I have in mind in using Scrivener for programming is more like a cradle to the grave thing where "everything" you write, from code to notes about what you might want to do someday, is stored in a Scrivener project ready to be reopened and reworked at anytime in the future. For a writer the novel is the final product. In a way the finished code is the final product for a programmer--but a writer seldom has to go back an rewrite the novel but a programmer almost always rewrites their code at some point--which would make the Scrivener project file be more like the finished product for the programmer...

Where writers want to keep research and other info about each scene handy I want to keep my notes and thoughts about each function or code segment linked to that segment and have the ability to read the notes while I look at the code. In other words treat a code section or segment like a scene in a novel so that a year later when I go back to change the code all my notes about that segment are right there. A year later your own code is as difficult to decipher as someone else's.

If you really document your code with all your thoughts about why you wrote it that way and what it does--you have way too much text to put in as in-line comments. Besides I don't think most programmers want other people reading their thoughts about why they did something--one of the reasons I think so much code is so poorly documented.

The other thing I want to do is tie in the user documentation so that it is really easy to make some quick notes while you are coding. While I am coding I have all kinds of thoughts about how to use it, things it can do, how it helps you, etc--but when I am finished coding I'm lucky to be able to remember what I was going to call the program. So I want a way to make documentation and user oriented notes that does not disrupt my train of thought about the code I am working on. Not having a way to do that is why I think most user documentation never gets done by the programmer. Not sure how Scrivener would be able to do that for me yet but I want to try.

Re: "a very basic colored syntax highlighter" This is as plug-in would be a good idea! I would really like that in Scrivener. Are you going to make that available to people who want to play with it?

All the new OSs and windowing systems are oriented towards content consumption instead of content production.

--Steve Daniels 2013

Coincidence--Maybe Not

James D's picture

I was thinking of trying something for November, which is NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).

And then I see this!

Scrivener on Linux

rakemup's picture

I can't get it to run at all in Linux. "The command "file Scrivener" returns:

Scrivener: ELF 32-bit LSB executable, Intel 80386, version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked (uses shared libs), for GNU/Linux 2.6.15, not stripped

I'm running 2.6.38-11. I wonder if that's why it will not run?

don't you have a 64bit

Anonymous's picture

don't you have a 64bit installation?

file /usr/bin/bash will tell you if you don't know...

Good Writing Tools

anonymous_penguin's picture

Wow, just a few minutes ago I was looking for writing software for linux, and then this shows up in my feed reader :P

Anyway, can you please list a few good writing software (preferably foss), which are not related to novel writing, or screenplay etc.

Actually my sister wants to write a cooking book, and i would like to suggest her something better suited for the task than libreoffice.

Something simple to use would be much appreciated, as she is a basic user, and I have barely managed to get her to stick with linux mint :D

FOSS Writing tools

David Lane's picture


For a cook book, depending on whether it is being submitted or not, it might be better to get familiar with Scribus. Generally if it is to be submitted, the publishers have their own format that has to be followed.

Otherwise, LyX is pretty much your only other option.

David Lane, KG4GIY is a member of Linux Journal's Editorial Advisory Panel and the Control Op for Linux Journal's Virtual Ham Shack