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Old 07-27-2011, 02:24 PM   #1
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Kobo with Linux

Hi. I haven't gotten a Kobo Touch yet, but will be very soon (tomorrow). I am primarily a Linux user, and would like to know in what ways the Kobo device and Kobo software can be used with Linux. I have Windows available, but would like to use that only as a last resort.

I understand that you can move generic ePubs and PDFs and such to the KT by treating the KT as a generic USB Mass Storage device (please correct me if I heard wrong on that). Not to mention using the SD card to transfer things to and from the KT.

Is the desktop software required for purchased/DRMed books? Can the desktop software be run via Wine? (I tried to install it, and it gave an error about USB) Is the Linux desktop client runnable under non-Debian distros (in my case, Gentoo)? I've been able to install Adobe Digital Editions with Wine.

Can the firmware be upgraded without the desktop software?

Anything else I need to know about what can and can't be done with Kobo and Linux?
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:09 PM   #2
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The firwmare updates are easy to install in Linux. Unfortunately, Kobo never provides the download link, so you have to hunt these forums for the info. However, for the Touch, it's as simple as unzipping the update file into the .kobo folder of your device. When USB is disconnected, the update is installed.

I don't know of any way to register the device for DRM books without using Windows at least once. However, as you've already noticed, ADE works well with Wine, and Kobo books can be downloaded for ADE. From there, DRM removal software can extract the ADE key, and thereafter, be used to unencrypt books right into Caliblre for management, if you wish. (or even manage without calibre, whatever.) It's an added hassle to the front end of purchase, but I think it's the only way to save yourself much more pain and grief in the future when it's time to migrate e-book platforms. If you absolutely must give money to purveyors of DRM, I think that's the only way to go.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:24 PM   #3
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The device auto installs firmware updates over WiFi. The only reason anyone might be remotely interested in manual download/install is if you don't have WiFi; which is is very very rare.
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:31 PM   #4
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mdk, you've obviously not tried updating the kobo without resorting to Windows.
(experimental debian packages notwithstanding)
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Old 07-27-2011, 03:41 PM   #5
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mdk, you've obviously not tried updating the kobo without resorting to Windows.
(experimental debian packages notwithstanding)
No I obviously haven't . You need to run through the first time setup experience once. Do that however way you wish (Windows, Mac or Debian). That will upgrade the firmware for you. After that for connect to WiFi and tap sync. It's that simple.

Last edited by MDK; 07-27-2011 at 03:44 PM.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:02 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pistos View Post
Hi. I haven't gotten a Kobo Touch yet, but will be very soon (tomorrow). I am primarily a Linux user, and would like to know in what ways the Kobo device and Kobo software can be used with Linux. I have Windows available, but would like to use that only as a last resort.

I understand that you can move generic ePubs and PDFs and such to the KT by treating the KT as a generic USB Mass Storage device (please correct me if I heard wrong on that). Not to mention using the SD card to transfer things to and from the KT.

Is the desktop software required for purchased/DRMed books? Can the desktop software be run via Wine? (I tried to install it, and it gave an error about USB) Is the Linux desktop client runnable under non-Debian distros (in my case, Gentoo)? I've been able to install Adobe Digital Editions with Wine.

Can the firmware be upgraded without the desktop software?

Anything else I need to know about what can and can't be done with Kobo and Linux?
As I was writing this, I see that a Kobo person already answered most of your questions, but let me include my experiences for you as well.

I just downloaded the Linux version of Kobo Desktop today, and it appears essentially the same as the Windows version, both are 2.0.3. I use Ubuntu, so I can't help you with Gentoo, but I have read in another post that Kobo Desktop does run via Wine (again, I can't help with the USB issue, other than to say that the other post about Linux and Kobo suggested that the Touch had to be connected before running Kobo Desktop.)

You can purchase books directly using Wifi with the Touch, no computer necessary. You can subscribe to Magazines and Newspapers using the Kobo website, and then sync the Touch using Wifi to load the publication to the Touch. You can download purchased Adobe DRM epubs from the Kobo website as well, and then transfer to the Touch using Adobe Digital Editions. You can "borrow" books from Libraries also using Adobe, and transfer to the Touch as well.

Firmware updates occur via Wifi on the Touch.

Basically you don't need the desktop software for anything -- except the initial setup of the Touch (which I did via Windows.)
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:08 PM   #7
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rashkae: The reports are that you can mount the KT as a USB device, then map the mounted Linux device to a drive letter with winecfg. I will try that.

So, overall, it does sound like I can use the KT without Windows at all? EDIT: Oh, it sounds like I need it just once, for initial setup. That's fine with me.

Thanks to all for the helpful info! I'm liking this community already.
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Old 07-27-2011, 04:16 PM   #8
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It would be nice if Kobo actually advertised the Linux desktop software, but I guess it's not officially supported.

Anyway, fellow Linux user here who recently bought the Kobo Touch and have had good success with Linux (apart from the initial setup which I happened to do on a Mac). Since I'm primarily interested in public domain books (that is to say free as in speech and beer) I don't have much need to bother with the desktop software, and dropping epub files directly onto the Kobo itself works like a charm.

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Old 07-27-2011, 04:43 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pistos View Post
Hi. I haven't gotten a Kobo Touch yet, but will be very soon (tomorrow). I am primarily a Linux user, and would like to know in what ways the Kobo device and Kobo software can be used with Linux. I have Windows available, but would like to use that only as a last resort.

I understand that you can move generic ePubs and PDFs and such to the KT by treating the KT as a generic USB Mass Storage device (please correct me if I heard wrong on that). Not to mention using the SD card to transfer things to and from the KT.

Is the desktop software required for purchased/DRMed books? Can the desktop software be run via Wine? (I tried to install it, and it gave an error about USB) Is the Linux desktop client runnable under non-Debian distros (in my case, Gentoo)? I've been able to install Adobe Digital Editions with Wine.

Can the firmware be upgraded without the desktop software?

Anything else I need to know about what can and can't be done with Kobo and Linux?
There's an officially unofficial linux version of the desktop app that gets updated every so often by a Kobo employee... You'll need it for the first update as I think that they ship with the very first 1.9 fw which AFAIK REQUIRED the app to update as wifi updates didn't work on that.

Yep, you can try to use it as a USB mass storage, I haven't tried with the Touch yet since it was borked with the Kobo WiFi which trained me to pull the SD card(well uSD in SD adapter, Touch uses uSD natively) and manually copy with my notebook's card reader.

...but the Touch ships with a basic web browser so you can use it to directly download epubs, etc. (supported formats by the Touch basically from what I understand) directly from a web page. Personally I load them into Calibre and then just turn on it's content sharing feature. The drawback is that there's no download progress indication so I just guess that if the cover shows up in my "home" screen that the dl is done. (Important to me as I generally run mine in airplane mode to conserve battery, and so want to turn on airplane mode as soon as it's finished downloading my book(s). Oddly the Kobo WiFi lacked a browser but had the Kobo store "app" which I'm sure was just a browser hard coded to go to their store.)

As to epub & DRM, yep and unprotected epub/pdf will be openable. Adobe DRM will open, but I think that you have to install those with their Adobe overdrive app thing which I've never tried under linux + wine(have no idea if they have a linux version either).

Kobo also has it's own epub DRM variant(opens in a different ereader app that currently has a few extra features v. the one used for Adobe DRM/unlocked epubs.). You can directly shop their Kobo store online through their "store" "app"(probably just the browser pushed to the store URL). Not sure if it directly download new purchases from there or not as the books that I've bought I just used a browser on my notebook. Anyways they'll still load onto the Touch when you "synch" it... I think that if you go to your account/library through a normal computer browser that you can control what gets sent at synchs etc. but I've never really looked as I don't have enough yet to care...

Back to the linux desktop app, isn't there something like alien which could translate a .deb to whatever that packaging format that Gentoo uses for binaries is? I got use to alien when I ran Yellow Dog Linux(PowerPC), it was RPM based and missed ALOT of packages most of which I could only find as .debs when I was lazy and didn't want to do the whole source compile from scratch.

[EDIT]
Oh, and BTW my experience with eInk and PDFs hasn't been all that great with complex PDFs... I'd take a sample to a store(on a uSD card, put the PDF in it's top level("root") directory) and see if you can get them to let you try it on one. If it's REALLY important to you to have good PDF you might want an Android(or other) LCD screen tablet...
[/EDIT]

Last edited by cutterjohn42; 07-27-2011 at 04:50 PM.
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Old 07-27-2011, 10:34 PM   #10
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cutterjohn: Thanks for your detailed reply. Pixel-perfect layout with PDFs is not important to me, I don't have specialized PDF needs. I'll be happy to just be able to read text from most PDFs, and if it looks more or less the same as it would on a computer, I'd be satisfied with that.

I do have a .deb to .tgz converter, and I used that to get at the files inside. But when I run the executable inside, it says it cannot find libzip. It seems easy to fix on Debian/Ubuntu, but not so much on Gentoo. I'm not expert enough at Linux to know how to get binaries to recognize the libs available on my system.
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Old 07-29-2011, 02:12 AM   #11
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Okay, so I got my KT a few hours ago. Here are my first impressions.

Overall, I'm pretty happy with it, even though I've not really read more than one page of an actual book. Everything went as advertised. I installed the Kobo software in Windows, did the initial setup, followed instructions, blah blah. All is fine up to this point.

First issue: Before even reading the two pre-loaded "about Kobo" mini books, I went to the settings to start configuring my device (something I like to do with software in general). So I go "Wireless Connection", to try to setup the KT to connect to my network. Clicked EDIT beside "Edit Wireless Connections". Saw that it says that there are no known connections. Well, yeah, obviously. "Okay," I think to myself, "so let's add a connection. Great. Where's the Add button. I see a DELETE button, a greyed out Select All checkbox ... a message about no known networks... an X in the corner ... okay fine, let's just press the X and get out of here." I press and press and smear and smudge and swipe and tap the X ... nothing. At this point, I am not feeling as positively about the device. :P I soon gave up, and used the Home button which, thankfully, brought me home. I went back a couple more times to that same screen, thinking maybe the page froze or had a bug or something, but it was the same each time. Fine. Eventually, I read the tutorial/tour, and the onboard help, and saw that you add connections by going to the Sync area.

Dear Kobo Developers: It seems to me to be Really Bad UI Design not to put a way to add a connection in the actual Settings pages and subpages. You know, the pages that have the words "wireless" and "connection" in them. People might actually think they could add a "wireless" "connection" in those pages. Please fix0r kei thicks buy.

As for that X in the corner: I eventually clued into the fact that about 1 cm from the physical screen edge/border is NOT sensitive to touch at all. Once I figured that, I realized I could click the X or whatever else is near the border by pressing _near_ the X, but within the touch-sensitive area. Fine, I can get used to that. After learning that, I found the touch sensitivity just fine. One tap is almost always enough, and accuracy is pretty good.

Various operations seem to really tax the processor of the unit, though. For example, when typing with the on-screen keyboard, if I typed too fast, some character inputs would not register. This is despite the fact that I could see the visual feedback of the virtual keyboard key being highlighted. I can get used to that, too -- I just have to type slower.

So, besides the above, I like the KT so far. The text is very legible, even if you can discern pixels a little with some letters, and that there is ghosting now and again. Thank you for a nice device.

Now ... onto the software/desktop part of the experience.

I was able to install Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) into Linux with Wine (1.3.x). Good. Able to download a DRMed library book into ADE. Good. Able to mount the KT in Linux. Good. Able to map it with winecfg, and see the KT in ADE. Good. Able to authorize/register the KT in ADE. Good. Able to drag the library book to the KT. Good. But .............

After unmounting the KT and unplugging it from the computer, when I went to try to read the library book... BZZT. "Oops, this is a DRM book! You need to blah blah with Adobe first." I go to the KT Settings, go to Account, and see:

SIGNED IN AS: <my Kobo account, good>
ADOBE AUTHORIZATION: Not signed in.

So... ADE claims my device is authorized, and it interacted with it, etc. etc. Yet the KT itself doesn't recognize that it is authorized with Adobe.

1.5 hours later, after several deauthorizations and reauthorizations, in Linux and Windows, and even a Factory Reset ... no go. I've filed a ticket with Kobo help, and I hope to receive some answers tomorrow. Rather disappointing, this last obstacle.

The library book opens and reads fine on my laptop, so the text itself is not messed up. I can read non-DRM ePubs just fine, too.

Anyway, if anyone has any tips for me, I'd be interested to hear. I've searched the net, and tried the various tricks, and nothing's working. The only thing I can guess at this point is that my Kobo account email and my Adobe account email need to be the same. I will experiment with that.
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Old 07-29-2011, 03:10 AM   #12
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Okay, I'm back, with tales of success.

Basically, the only problem was (indeed) your Kobo email and your Adobe email must be the same. Altogether now: "Lame!" I'm not sure who should receive blame here for this silly restriction, Kobo or Adobe. Anyway, I made a fresh Adobe account with my Kobo email, and then the Account settings page showed the device was registered -- after going through a factory reset and re-registering the software (both Kobo and ADE) and the device (KT with ADE). I had to return the book back to the library and re-borrow and redownload it, but anyway, that's not Kobo's fault. Accursed DRM.

So off I go to enjoy some great reads on my brand new Kobo Touch!
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Old 07-29-2011, 07:15 AM   #13
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As for that X in the corner: I eventually clued into the fact that about 1 cm from the physical screen edge/border is NOT sensitive to touch at all. Once I figured that, I realized I could click the X or whatever else is near the border by pressing _near_ the X, but within the touch-sensitive area. Fine, I can get used to that. After learning that, I found the touch sensitivity just fine. One tap is almost always enough, and accuracy is pretty good.
The touch feature takes some getting used to because it's not a traditional touch screen. It uses infrared projectors around the edges of the screen to detect where your finger is. In fact, it's even possible to turn pages, etc. without actually touching the screen since you just need to get close enough to interrupt the infrared beams.

So while it's not quite as accurate and sensitive as a true touch screen, it works surprisingly well once you get used to it.
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Old 07-29-2011, 08:14 AM   #14
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If the black flash of e-ink page refresh does not bother you, I would suggest you go to "advanced settings" (which, in another not-so intuative ui design, you can only access from within a a book, by middle-tapping and accessing the menu.) and changing the screen refresh from 6 pages to 1 page. It really makes a large difference with ghosting effects and pixalation if you do a proper screen refresh at every page turn.
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Old 07-29-2011, 11:04 AM   #15
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the.Mtn.Man: Yep, I think I'm used to it by now, and I am satisfied with it. I'm not so accurate with the onscreen keyboard -- but then I never was, even with iPhones or anything like that, so I don't really fault Kobo.

rashkae: Thanks for the tip. I think I will keep it at 6, because the artifacts are quite faint, so I don't really care. I'd rather save battery life. In fact, I may experiment with increasing from 6 to 10 or something.
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