linux installation instructions for standalone

When zotero 5 comes out soon, a flood of Linux users will presumably be switching from zotero firefox to zotero standalone. They'll download a .tar.bz2 file and then - if they're anything like me - not know what to do next. The installation instruction page - - doesn't say anything about what to do after downloading the .tar.bz2 file. If there are instructions anywhere, I sure couldn't find them.

So, here are MY instructions for the benefit of others.

***After you download Zotero Standalone for Linux:***

1. Extract the contents of the .tar.bz2 into a folder at some permanent location of your choosing.
2. Open a terminal and navigate to that folder ("cd" command). Then launch zotero using the command "./zotero" (without the quotes)
3. You don't need to do step 2 every time you want to run zotero. Just the first time. When it runs the first time, it should create a shortcut, so that from then on, you can launch zotero in the same way as any of your other programs (e.g. via the "dash" in Ubuntu).

(Only tested in ubuntu, but I THINK it should be applicable to most linux desktops...)

I hope that someone corrects any mistakes I made and then includes something like this on the standard installation instructions page above (directly or via a link). And/or put in the README inside the .tar.bz2. I think it will help avoid a lot of confusion. Thanks in advance!
  • Thank you, this was very helpful.
  • @sbyrnes321: Thanks. I'd add, though, that Zotero is distributed the same way as Firefox (and lots of other programs) — it's just a tarball with an executable. There are third-party packages for specific distros that may be more appropriate for most users.
    When it runs the first time, it should create a shortcut, so that from then on, you can launch zotero in the same way as any of your other programs (e.g. via the "dash" in Ubuntu).
    I'm not sure what you're referring to here. This isn't something it does, at least on purpose.

    The 5.0 package does include a Unity desktop file, though, which can be symlinked to /usr/share/applications/ or ~/.local/share/applications/ and added to the launcher from there. (I've fixed that to work properly in build 137 and higher.) There's also a set_launcher_icon script that can be run first to give it the correct icon.

    I've created an issue to add a README to the Linux build with instructions for running Zotero.
  • Well, I'm quite sure that I never ran the set_launcher_icon script myself, nor did I simlink any file, yet the shortcut appeared! It was very convenient.
  • @dstillman Where can I find the Unity desktop file and what is it's name?
  • It's just in the root of the 5.0 tarball. It's technically called zotero.desktop, but in the Ubuntu file manager it should show up as "Zotero" (not to be confused with "zotero", which is the executable itself).
  • It'd be useful to add a line to the readme that recommends the use of the AUR package for Arch Linux users. Something like:

    Arch and Arch-based Linux (Manjaro, Antergos) users can run `yaourt zotero` to install Zotero from the Arch User Repository.

  • We can only vouch for the software we distribute. I think it's up to users of individual distros to know how to find and install packages.
  • (Obviously some software projects do document third-party packages. We follow Mozilla's example here: "To install Firefox using the package manager, please refer to the documentation of the Linux distribution you're using.")
  • and here's one for the real newbs like me:
    "in step 1, you could create a "zotero"-folder in your personal folder.
    if you don't know how to do step 2, click on "open directory" after extracting (all!) the files, and then right-click on your "zotero"-folder and choose "open in terminal".
    good job, way to go!
  • I never succeeded via the tar.bz2 file. (and i tried several times...)

    My installation on ubuntu 18.04 (bionic) was rather easiest :

    1) run : sudo add-apt-repository ppa:smathot/cogscinl

    It builds the path to a very good repository, actually made to make the zotero installation easier on Linux. (it may be considered as "unsafe" by your OS, because it is not part of Canonical. But it is safe)

    2) update your packages : sudo apt-get update

    3) install this package : apt://zotero-standalone
    | If i can give an easy tip : you can paste "apt://zotero-standalone" on your browser, then press enter. Your software manager will react automatically |

    After these 3 steps, Zotero Shall work perfectly on your computer.

    * I followed these instructions from this website : ""*

  • @Louis_David: I have tried it your the ways. But still showed error during installation. If I copy paste "apt://zotero-standalone" again on my browser. Showing that it is already installed. Kindly help me in installation.
  • ppa:smathot/cogscinl is still at 5.0.56. The latest version can be installed from (but you'll likely have to uninstall the package installed from the PPA)
  • Thank you, it was helpful for me. Now, my Zotero is running on Ubuntu.
  • Very helpful! Works for Ubuntu 19.04. Definitely saved my time.Thank you!
  • @sbyrnes321 I tried your approach and successfully opened Zotero via the terminal, but it did not create a shortcut. The only way I can open it again is through the terminal. I'm running Ubuntu 19.04.

    The official Zotero documentation gives these instructions:

    "run the set_launcher_icon script to update the .desktop file for that location, and symlink zotero.desktop into ~/.local/share/applications/ (e.g., ln -s /opt/zotero/zotero.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/zotero.desktop)"

    ..but I'm having trouble interpreting them. The set_launcher_icon code doesn't seem to do anything when pasted in Bash, and I don't know how to symlink.

    If anyone would be willing to walk me through this, it would be a huge help! Thanks!
  • for @giebink and others...

    you must cd to the directory of the extracted tarball, which they suggest is /opt/zotero

    then run
    sudo ./set_launcher_icon

    then run
    sudo ln -s /opt/zotero/zotero.desktop ~/.local/share/applications/zotero.desktop

    then you're good! I hope.
  • edited May 27, 2020
    Re: the comment from @stachelmaus:

    You only need to (and only should) use sudo for set_launcher_icon if your current user account doesn't have write access to the directory where you've extracted the tarball (because set_launcher_icon simply updates the zotero.desktop file in that same directory).

    You don't need to (and shouldn't) use sudo for the second command if you're symlinking into ~/.local/share/applications.
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