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How to Setup Kobo Desktop and New eReader using Wine on Linux


This tutorial describes how to install the Kobo Desktop software using wine and setup your new Kobo eReader, Kobo Touch, Kobo Mini, Kobo Glo, or Kobo Aura HD.

These steps were documented using Kubuntu 12.04 which uses the K Desktop Environment (KDE). Tips are provided on how to use these instructions with other desktop environments.

TIP:   Update April 27, 2015 - Work around to setup Kobo eReader without Kobo Desktop or Kobo Account

Kobo eReaders can no longer be set up using the Kobo Desktop on GNU/Linux (see warning below). Fortunately there is a work around to get your Kobo eReader working without a Kobo Account.

The steps to setup your eReader without an account are as follows:

  1. Open a terminal window.

    An example of how to open a terminal window is shown in step 9 below.

  2. Install the sqlitebrowser with the appropriate command for your GNU/Linux distribution.

    On Debian and Ubuntu based distributions use:

    sudo apt-get install sqlitebrowser

    On Fedora based distributions use:

    su -c "yum install sqlitebrowser"

    On openSUSE based distributions use:

    su -c "zypper install sqlitebrowser"

  3. Attach your Kobo eReader to the computer via the USB cable, and mount the Kobo eReader.

    And example on how to mount the Kobo eReader is shown in step 6 below.

  4. Start sqlitebrowser and load the KoboReader.sqlite database with the following command:

    sqlitebrowser /media/KOBOeReader/.kobo/KoboReader.sqlite

  5. Click on the Execute SQL tab and in the SQL string: section enter the following statement:

    insert into USER values("foo", "foo", "foo", "foo", "foo");

  6. Click the Execute query button to run the above statement.

    This will insert a record into the database which will permit bypassing the Kobo Setup screen on the eReader.

  7. Save these changes by selecting the menu option: File -> Save Database.

  8. Close the sqlitebrowser by selecting the menu option: File -> Exit.

  9. Safely unmount your Kobo eReader.

    An example of how to unmount your eReader is shown in step 24 below.

  10. Unplug the USB cable from you Kobo eReader.

    Your eReader should now boot up and display the QUICK TOUR screen (example screen shot in step 27 below).

Congratulations! You should now be able to either side-load books onto your Kobo eReader (copy files directly to mounted eReader), or load books using Adobe Digital Editions. :-)

WARNING:   Update September 8, 2014 - Recent Kobo Destop Software Fails to Install under Wine

Recently I downloaded Kobo Desktop version 3.10.0 (released on Aug 22, 2014) and discovered I was unable to install it on GNU/Linux using Wine. Many error messages were displayed including the following:

err:module:import_dll Library MSVCR110.dll (which is needed by L"C:\\Program Files (x86)\\Kobo\\icuuc46.dll") not found

From searching the Internet I discovered that this is the Microsoft Visual C/C++ Runtime library for 2012. Unfortunately this library does not currently work with Wine, at least according to the following link: Wine: Visual C++ Redistributable Package

Until this problem is resolved, the Kobo Desktop is no longer installable in GNU/Linux using Wine. ;-(

Fortunately, if you wish to upgrade your firmware there are two other options available as described in the below note.

If you have purchased e-books from Kobo that contain Digital Restrictions Management, then you can still download the book and use Adobe Digital Editions on GNU/Linux to load the book onto your Kobo eReader.

NOTE:   Update April 3, 2014 - Firmware Updates Fail with Recent Kobo Desktop Software

Recently I installed Kobo Desktop version 3.6.0 (released on Feb 11, 2014) and discovered I was unable to use it to successfully upgrade my Kobo eReader firmware. Other synchronization features and initial eReader setup seemed to work, but no matter how many times I tried to upgrade the firmware, the Kobo Desktop failed to download the entire firmware file.

When I originally wrote this tutorial, the Kobo Desktop software was at version 3.2.0. Even back then it took a few tries with version 3.2.0 to successfully download the firmware file and upgrade the Kobo eReader firmware.

Unfortunately using the older 3.2.0 version is not an option because the Kobo Desktop insists on upgrading to the latest version. Choosing to upgrade would always fail for me, so to install the latest I had to download and install the Kobo Desktop as described in this tutorial.

Fortunately, if you wish to upgrade your firmware there are two other options available. If you have access to a Wi-Fi network, then you can connect using Wi-Fi and install the latest firmware over the wireless network.

Alternatively, you can use the instructions at MobileRead Forum - Direct Links to Kobo Firmware to manually download the appropriate firmware file, extract the contents and copy to your eReader the files necessary to upgrade the firmware. Be sure to carefully read the instructions on the forum page and to use the correct firmware version for your specific Kobo eReader model. Note that I have successfully used this method to upgrade a Kobo Mini and a Kobo Glo. :-)


Install Wine and Setup Kobo Drive Letter

  1. Install wine and add a permanent floppy drive letter mapping.

    See How to Setup Wine to Use Windows Applications with Kobo eReader on Linux.

Connect Kobo eReader to Computer

In the following steps we will connect your new Kobo eReader to your computer using the supplied USB cable. We will also ensure that the device is mounted on your computer so that it can be used with the Kobo Desktop application.

Note that a powered off Kobo eReader that is new or in the Factory Reset state will look like the following picture:

New Kobo eReader screen

  1. Plug your Kobo eReader into your computer using the USB cable.

    Your eReader should start powering up with the following display on the screen:

    Kobo eReader powering up

  2. Select the language to use with your eReader. For example, English.

    Kobo eReader language selection screen

    NOTE:   No Language Selection Screen?

    If instead you see the following screen, then select CONNECT and skip ahead to step 6.

    Kobo eReader computer detected connect prompt screen


    Kobo eReader computer or wireless setup screen

  4. Your Kobo eReader is now connected and charging.

    Kobo eReader connected and charging screen

  5. Mount the Kobo eReader.

    If using KDE an available devices list will pop up in the lower right-hand corner of the screen. Select the Open with File Manager option to mount the Kobo eReader.

    Kobo eReader computer detected cancel or connect screen

    NOTE:   Mounting eReader with File Manager

    If you are not using KDE, or you missed the above available devices list, then you can open a file manager and click on the Kobo eReader entry to mount the Kobo eReader.

    In KDE, select the menu option: K --> System --> Dolphin (File Manager) to open a file manager.

    In other desktop environments, a file manager should be listed in the menu entries under names such as Nautilus, or PCManFM. Open this file manager and click on the Kobo eReader entry to mount the Kobo eReader. Dolphin file manager with Kobo eReader mounted

Download KoboSetup.exe File

  1. Download Kobo Desktop setup file for Windows.

    NOTE:   Update Nov. 5, 2015 - Unable to download Kobo Desktop from Linux?

    The Kobo Desktop download no longer works from Firefox in Linux. A work around is to use Firefox under Wine. Thanks go to Grazie Giovanni for reporting this issue and work around.

    Instructions on how to install Firefox in Wine can be found in the article Streaming CTV Shows not working with Firefox on Linux.

    Open a web browser, visit the web site, and click on the Download Kobo Desktop for Windows link.
    Browser displaying web site
  2. Save the KoboSetup.exe file.
    KoboSetup.exe save file window
    Note the location where the file is saved. In Kubuntu, the file is saved into the ~/Downloads directory by default.

Install Kobo Desktop

  1. Open a terminal window.

    In KDE, select the menu option: K --> System --> Konsole (Terminal).

    TIP:   Opening a terminal in other desktop environments

    You can often open a terminal window using the following steps:

    a) Press Alt+F2 to open a run command prompt
    b) Enter "xterm" without the quotes

  2. Start the Kobo Desktop install.

    Start the install with the following command:
        wine ~/Downloads/KoboSetup.exe
    A few different windows will be displayed while the Kobo Desktop software is installed.

  3. Click the Finish button to run the Kobo Desktop.

    Note that the Kobo Desktop has been installed at this stage, but we have not yet specified a Kobo account to use with the Kobo eReader. As far as I can tell, a Kobo account is required to finish setting up and using the eReader.
    Kobo Desktop installation finished window

Synchonize Kobo Desktop with eReader

  1. Click the OK button to acknowledge the Kobo Desktop version installed.

    Kobo desktop version window

  2. Click the SIGN IN OR CREATE AN ACCOUNT icon.
    Kobo desktop window
  3. If you already have a Kobo account, proceed to sign in with your email address and password and skip ahead to step 16.

    If you do not have a Kobo account, click on New? Sign up here
    Sign in to Kobo window
  4. Enter your email address, a password (twice), select if you wish email from Kobo, and click the CONTINUE button.

    Note that you might need to scroll down to view the CONTINUE button.
    Sign up to Kobo window
  5. After successfully signing up, the Kobo Desktop will begin syncing with the Kobo web site.
    Kobo Destkop syncing window
  6. With a new Kobo eReader, or eReader that as been Factory Reset, click the SET UP NOW button.

    If you do not see the following window then skip ahead to step 21.

    Kobo Desktop set up now prompt window

  7. Click the GET STARTED button.

    Kobo Desktop get started window

  8. If your Kobo eReader does not contain the most recent update then an eReader upgrade will be downloaded.

    Kobo Desktop downloading eReader upgrade window

    NOTE:   Please connect to the Internet displayed?

    If the download fails, click the TRY AGAIN button.

    Note that when I created this document it took me 3 tries for the update to successfully download.

    Kobo Desktop try again prompt window

  9. Sign into your newly created Kobo account using the email address and password you used earlier..

    Kobo Desktop account sign in window

  10. After signing in, your eReader should begin configuring and syncing.

    Kobo Desktop eReader configuring and syncing window

  11. After configuring and syncing, your eReader should be successfully set up. Click CONTINUE.

    Kobo Desktop eReader successfully set up window

Disconnect Kobo eReader

  1. Close the Kobo Desktop.

    NOTE:   The Eject button on the Kobo Desktop does not work

    Note that there is an EJECT button on the EREADER tab.

    Kobo Desktop eReader tab window
    If you click on the EJECT button then the eject will fail.

    Kobo Desktop eReader eject failed window

    For this reason we close the Kobo Desktop and in the next step we will manually unmount the Kobo eReader.

  2. Safely unmount your Kobo eReader.

    In KDE in an open Dolphin File Manager, right-click on the Kobo eReader entry and select the option to Safely Remove 'Kobo eReader'.

    Dolphin file manager safely remove eReader prompt

    TIP:   Another way to safely unmount your Kobo eReader

    If you are unsure how to unmount your Kobo eReader from a file manager, then shutdown your computer. This will ensure that the Kobo eReader is safely unmounted.

  3. Unplug the USB cable from your Kobo eReader.

    If your Kobo eReader received a software update then the following screen will be displayed:

    Kobo eReader updating screen

  4. After updates have been applied, your Kobo eReader will power up.

    Kobo eReader powering up screen

  5. At the QUICK TOUR screen, click on the right arrow to navigate through each page and learn about your Kobo eReader.

  6. When you get to one of the following two screens your Kobo eReader has completed the setup stage.

    Kobo eReader browse offers scrren

    Kobo eReader main screen

  7. Your Kobo eReader is now ready to load ebooks onto it. :-)

    To load books onto your Kobo eReader you will need to either connect it to your computer using the USB cable, or connect to the Internet using WiFi wireless networking.

    You can load books using methods such as:

    • Download a book from a web site, such as Project Gutenberg, and copy the .epub file to your Kobo eReader using a file manager.
    • Login to your Kobo Books account, add a book to your library, and use the Kobo Desktop to sync the book to your kobo eReader.
    • Download a book from your local library, and load it onto your Kobo eReader using Adobe Digital Editions.

NOTE:   No Menu Entry for Kobo Desktop?

If there is no wine menu entry for your Kobo Desktop, then logout and login.

In KDE, the menu option is: K --> Wine --> Programs --> Kobo --> Kobo

TIP:   Using Software with your Kobo eReader

Be sure your Kobo eReader is connected and mounted before you start up software such as the Kobo Desktop, or Adobe Digital Editions. Otherwise the software will not be able to communicate with the Kobo eReader.

Future Kobo eReader Tutorial

For anyone seeking more in-depth instructions, in a future tutorial I plan to cover the following topic:

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