Electronic Books

Calibre Logo

calibre is a free and open source e-book library management application developed by users of e-books for users of e-books. It has a cornucopia of features divided into the following main categories:

  • Library Management
  • E-book conversion
  • Syncing to e-book reader devices
  • Downloading news from the web and converting it into e-book form
  • Comprehensive e-book viewer
  • Content server for online access to your book collection
  • E-book editor for the major e-book formats

Software Installation

While calibre is available in the Ubuntu Software-Center, the version available is likely to be outdated.

The download page on the calibre website provides a scary looking command line to download and install calibre onn Linux desktop systems:

$ sudo -v && \
    wget -nv -O- \
        https://raw.githubusercontent.com/kovidgoyal/calibre/master/setup/linux-installer.py |\
    sudo python -c "import sys; \
                    main=lambda:sys.stderr.write('Download failed\n'); \
                    exec(sys.stdin.read()); main()"

Synchronize with ownCloud

Calibre stores all books and its database in one directory (ususally called Calibre Library in your home directory). To access your collection of electronic books from everywhere, especially with your reading and mobile devices, synchronize this directory with ownCloud Desktop Client.

On the server-side, the library then is made available online by the Electronic Books Library server.

Digital Rights Management (DRM)

eBooks in the ePub-format protected by digital rights management (DRM).

Online libraries and book-shops sometimes distribute DRM protected files by letting you download a file called URLLink.acsm.

Adobe Digital Editions is needed to access these eBooks. Since there is no Linux version of Adobe Digital Editions, the Windows version is installed under Wine.

Adobe Digital Editions (Adobe, 2011)

WINEARCH=win32 WINEPREFIX=${HOME}/.wine32 winetricks adobe_diged

This creates a new wine environment in the directory $HOME/.local/share/wineprefixes/adobe_diged.

Technical Background

The download site will serve the URLLink.acsm as mime-type application/vnd.adobe.adept+xml.

Firefox will lookup how to handle this content in a file called mimeTypes.rdf in your Mozilla Firefox profile directory:

<RDF:Description RDF:about="urn:mimetype:handler:application/vnd.adobe.adept+xml"
<NC:externalApplication RDF:resource="urn:mimetype:externalApplication:application/vnd.adobe.adept+xml"/>

The part “externalApplication” essentially means, ask the operating system desktop environment to handle this.

Ubuntu Desktop will lookup its own database, to find out how to handle this. You can query the database as follows:

gvfs-mime --query application/vnd.adobe.adept+xml
Registred Application:
Recommended Application:

The wine-extension-acsm.desktop is found in the $HOME/.local/share/applications directory. It should contain the command to start wine along with Adobe Digital Editions

env WINEPREFIX="${HOME}/.local/share/wineprefixes/adobe_diged" wine explorer.exe

De-DRM eBooks

The good news is, you can remove DRM from your eBooks. There is a plugin for Calibre, the eBook library application, which once installed, will do this automatically with every eBook you add to your Calibre library.

The bad news is, its a bit complicated to setup:

We use Calibre under Linux, but the Adobe DRM stuff runs under Windows only. To run windows programs in Linux, the Windows emulation software called wine is used.

The scripts who do the magic of releasing your eBooks from DRM are Python scripts. As those Python scripts must access the Adobe Digital stuff, they also have to be run in the same emulated Windows environment. Therefore our wine environment needs to be able to run Python scripts. A Python-version for Windows must therefore be installed under the wine environment.

DRM is done by encrypting the media-content and decrypting it only for authorized access. The scripts use Python modules for cryptography, which also must be installed under the wine environment.

Python for Windows

Use the following command-line to install it:

$ env WINEARCH=win32 WINEPREFIX="${HOME}/.local/share/wineprefixes/adobe_diged" winetricks python26

Python Crypto Modules

PyCrypto 2.6 for 32bit Windows and Python 2.6:

$ cd Downloads
$ wget http://www.voidspace.org.uk/downloads/pycrypto26/pycrypto-2.6.win32-py2.6.exe
$ env WINEARCH=win32 WINEPREFIX="${HOME}/.local/share/wineprefixes/adobe_diged" wine pycrypto-2.6.win32-py2.6.exe

DeDRM Plug-in for Calibre

Go to Apprentice Alf’s Blog and download the tools archive DeDRM_tools_6.6.1.zip or newer from the link provided: https://github.com/apprenticeharper/DeDRM_tools/releases.

Unzip the downloaded DeDRM_tools_6.6.1.zip.

Start Calibre and install the plug-in by selecting the file DeDRM_tools_6.6.1/DeDRM_calibre_plugin/DeDRM_plugin.zip.