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Plottr for Linux

This article is intended for users who wish to install Plottr on Linux.

For this document, we assume the following:

  • You are comfortable with a Linux command line
  • You understand how to install software from the command line, know which package you need/prefer
  • If you’re a Chromebook user, you have already installed the Linux subsystem and know how to open a terminal

Installation

Installing Plottr on Linux is generally straight-forward, with the following caveats:

  • This is unsupported, beta software. While you are welcome to ask for help if you have trouble, the Linux version is not an official software offering that may be discontinued at any time.
  • Support requests may take longer than usual to resolve.
  • Data loss may occur – you are responsible for your own backups.
  • The Linux version is currently only packaged in AppImage and deb. It is not currently packaged for RPM
  • Automatic upgrades do not work. You will need to manually download and install new versions.
  • New version notifications do work, so you will know when it’s time to download a new version.

Download Locations

Deb Installation

You may use the deb package if you’re using a Debian-based distribution, like Debian, Ubuntu, Mint, or Chromebook.

The deb has several dependencies that should be available in your distribution’s standard repository.

Because of this, you should use apt, not dpkg, to install Plottr.

Using apt will resolve and install the dependencies at the same time, while using dpkg will probably fail and result in errors.

Other Useful Notes

  • The installation should create an icon in your window manager’s menu system, but it may not use a Plottr icon. This behavior has been noted on Kubuntu/Plasma, and Debian/xfce.
  • Like any installation using apt, you must have root or sufficient sudo privileges to install. Plottr itself runs as the user.
  • Plottr installs in /opt/Plottr 

AppImage Installation

Running the AppImage version of Plottr is as simple as downloading the package, setting the execute bit, and running it. 

This is useful for users who don’t want the hassle of installing dependencies, who don’t have root privileges, or who are using non-Debian-derived distributions, such as CentOS, RedHat, Fedora, Arch, or Slackware.

Other Useful Notes

  • The AppImage package does not create an icon in your window manager’s menu. You can run it from the command line, or you may create your own shortcut to execute the package.
  • You may move and/or rename the AppImage package to a convenient location in your $PATH.
  • If you run Plottr from the command line, you can background the task (&) and close the terminal window. If you do not background the task, closing the terminal window will also kill Plottr.
  • See Known Issues below if you get a “SUID sandbox helper binary” failure when trying to run the package.

Chromebook Installation

To install on a Chromebook, download the deb package, open a terminal, and install using apt as described in Deb Installation.

As of January 2021, Chromebook’s Linux subsystem is based on Debian Buster.

Some users report that while it is possible to use the AppImage package, deb installation is preferred because:

  • Using AppImage leaves the terminal window open even if you use & to background Plottr’s processes and then exit the shell
  • Plottr doesn’t appear in the apps menu, so you must always open a terminal to start Plottr
  • You can’t pin Plottr to the shelf

Other Useful Notes

When you download the deb or AppImage package, Chrome will save the file in Downloads.

However, this location isn’t visible by default to the Linux subsystem, which runs in its own virtual machine.

There are two solutions:

    • You may drag-and-drop the deb from Downloads into the Linux subsystem’s home directory in the Files app
    • You may use wget or a Linux-installed browser, such as Brave, from the command line to download directly into the Linux subsystem.

The deb installation creates an icon in the Chromebook menus, which you may pin to the shelf. 

You should find this icon in your apps menu, inside a Linux Apps icon/folder, but some users have reported that the icon has appeared outside the folder, and instead shows up on the main app menu screens.

  • The system will use a generic penguin icon, not the Plottr icon.
  • Saving your Plottr file works normally, except that you can not save your file outside the Linux subsystem.

One user has installed Dropbox on the Chromebook and been able to make that visible inside the Linux virtual machine for Plottr to use, and it does sync to other machines normally.

  • To save space using this method, make sure you only download your Plottr and other necessary writing files to the local machine using Dropbox Smart Sync.
  • For more information on this method, see: https://www.dropbox.com/smart-sync

There is no native Google Drive client for Linux, and trying to save Plottr files to Google Drive from a Chromebook is untested. Let us know if you can do it!

Known Issues

Automatic Upgrades Fail

This issue arises on all Linux installations, but the cause depends on which package you’re using.

For deb users, the issue is Plottr installs as root in /opt/Plottr, but the software runs as the user. This means that the automatic upgrade feature can’t work because the user doesn’t have the necessary permissions to overwrite files in /opt/Plottr. The solution is to download a new deb package and upgrade from the command line using apt.

For AppImage users, the issue is AppImages are not writable in this way. Because the program is packaged as an all-in-one file, you must upgrade the whole file.

Leftover Threads

One user has reported that, after shutting Plottr down via the GUI, the threads do not close properly, visible in process list with ps or top. 

Starting Plottr again causes a new set of processes to be created, rather than using the old set. Using kill or killall shuts them down without data loss. However, other users have also reported that they aren’t affected by this issue.

Installation Doesn’t Include Plottr Icon

You can find and download the official Plottr logo here

AppImage Sandbox Failure:

When running the AppImage version, you may get an error that says in relevant part:

The SUID sandbox helper binary was found, but it is not configured correctly. Rather than run without sandboxing I’m aborting now. You need to make sure that /tmp/[random directory name]/chrome-sandbox is owned by root and has mode 4755.

The source of this error is within a library used to create Plottr, and other programs that use the same library have reported the same issue. 

Updated on April 14, 2021

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