Graham King

Solvitas perambulum

Kobo eReader Touch on Ubuntu Linux

misc software

Ten days ago, I received a Kobo eReader Touch for father’s day. It’s a lovely device. Here’s my impressions.

It’s a USB device.

  1. Plug it in to your Ubuntu machine (or probably any modern Linux distro). It shows up as a USB storage device.
  2. Drag and drop books in any supported format onto it.
  3. Unplug, switch on, read books.

It’s that simple. If you had a solid-state MP3 player (before your phone played them), this will feel familiar.

It charges from the USB port, and battery life so far is upwards of 8 days.

The setup software is Win / Mac only, but you don’t need it. When you start the device, it insists that you run the setup software. You don’t have to. As far as I can tell, the setup does two things:

  • Forces you to create a account. Lame.
  • Updates the software on the device.

For this reason you might want to find a Windows or Mac machine at some point.

It’s a book

The Kobo Touch does a great job of respecting the book abstraction. It is light and compact like a book – I’ve read comfortably for hours. You can’t read in the dark, you can read in full sun and from any angle. You can’t browse the web, use it as a torch, or in fact do almost anything except turn the pages. As I said, it’s a book.

When you power it ‘off’ (sleep), it displays the cover of the book you’re reading, and the percentage read. The percentage is presumably to convey the information your bookmark sticking out of the book normally does.

Prefer ePub

The Kobo deals much better with ePub than with PDF. PDF’s feel like images – no resize or reflow and you can zoom but you have to manually scroll around the page. With ePub by contrast it resizes the text to be a nice large size, and reflows the text so that it fits naturally on the screen of the device.

To convert your PDFs to ePubs, use the excellent eBook manager Calibre. It can convert between most book formats, can find cover art and metadata for your books, and much more. Calibre is multi-platform, GPL and written in Python.

Happy reading, and remember to ask your local library if they rent ebooks. Mine does.