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You’re researching your family tree, but you need somewhere to log all of your research data. You’ve heard about family tree software, such as Family Tree Maker, but are unsure if it is available for Linux. Well, it’s not – but plenty of alternatives are! If you’re looking for a genealogy program for Linux, start with these suggestions.

Desktop vs Online

Now it’s possible that you know a bit about genealogy research, and believe that desktop software for managing family tree data is becoming slightly anachronistic. In a world where the most famous genealogy website, Ancestry.com, recently gave up development of the popular, 27-year-old Family Tree Maker to Software MacKiev, it seems likely that Windows and Mac users have a few more years of this desktop app yet.

So while it might be easier to manage your family tree online with Ancestry’s web-based interface or its mobile apps, having a desktop suite that is easily updateable and always accessible is a massive advantage.

With this in mind, let’s take a look at what genealogy apps are available for Linux.

GRAMPS – Genealogical Research and Analysis Management Programming System

Probably the most widely-used genealogy tool for Linux, GRAMPS has affine reputation and a wide set of features. It features GEDCOM import support and reports can be created in AbiWord Abiword - The Best Free Lightweight Word Processor Abiword - The Best Free Lightweight Word Processor Get a lightweight but not underpowered word processor. If you need a program compatible with a wide variety of file formats, Abiword might be the right fit for you. It's not as powerful as Microsoft... Read More and OpenOffice/LibreOffice Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? Is LibreOffice Worthy of the Office Crown? LibreOffice is the king of free office suites. It's unlikely to replace Microsoft Office in a business environment, but it's an excellent alternative for casual users. Here's what's new in LibreOffice 5.1. Read More formats. Various custom features can also be applied, from focusing on specific details to omitting details of living individuals.

Family trees can be navigated via nine views, and the database features revision control. Barely a family tree has been created that didn’t feature a few errors, so this helps to manage errors.

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With multiple language support, GRAMPS also has support for conversion between Gregorian, Julian, Hebrew, French republican, Persian and Islamic calendars.

In short, this is a great piece of software that you won’t look back from. Add it to your system with:

sudo apt-get install gramps

GRAMPS can be launched from the GUI, or by entering:

gramps

in the command line. GRAMPS is also available for Mac OS X and Windows.

LifeLines

A popular alternative to GRAMPS, LifeLines dates back to the 1990s, and true to its legacy, is a text-based family genealogical database application, which runs in Terminal. It’s always a good thing to learn how to use the Terminal 4 Ways to Teach Yourself Terminal Commands in Linux 4 Ways to Teach Yourself Terminal Commands in Linux If you want to become a true Linux master, having some terminal knowledge is a good idea. Here methods you can use to start teaching yourself. Read More more!

muo-linux-genealogy-lifelines

With no realistic limits on the number of records (up to 100,000), or information that can be stored within, LifeLine is a more hands-on approach to genealogy software, with a programming subsystem provided for the development of reports and charts, and database queries.

Everything created in LifeLines is natively in GEDCOM format, which makes LifeLines a great secondary tool if the reports in your existing family tree software aren’t delivering the information you want. You can install LifeLines with:

sudo apt-get install lifelines

Run it with:

llines

Versions of LifeLines are also available for FreeBSD, as well as Windows and Mac OS X.

The Importance of GEDCOM Files

You’ll have noticed a few mentions of “GEDCOM” above. This is an acronym (Genealogical Data Communication) for a plain-text database specification developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As it is plain-text, it can be opened in text editors Making The Best Text Editor Better: 7 Great Sublime Text Packages Making The Best Text Editor Better: 7 Great Sublime Text Packages Read More .

If the genealogy software you’re using has GEDCOM support, it means that the application can import and export data from other genealogy suites that have saved data in GEDCOM format. This can prove extremely useful in the event of migrating from one computing platform to another (such as from Windows to Linux), as it means that your family tree research will remain available on your new operating system.

You’ll find more information about GEDCOM in our guide to researching your family tree online Research Your Family Tree Online Research Your Family Tree Online Various specialist software tools are available to help you to map your family tree and there are websites available that can help you out with everything from census results to finding graves. Read More .

Web-Based Genealogy Tools

It’s possible that you’re happier using web-based genealogy tools than a dedicated suite. Fortunately, several are available, and because they’re online, they’re also cross-platform, which means you can employ the same tools that you might use on a Windows or Mac PC.

Ancestry.com

Probably the most obvious place to start, the browser-based genealogy research experience offered by this site is unparalleled.

You’ve probably used it in your research, hoping to find evidence of your lineage from wartime records, travel manifests, or simply census results. Alongside this vast archive of searchable data, however, is a browser-based family tree database tool. If you don’t need your data to be stored on your PC, and are spending a lot of time using Ancestry’s archive, it makes sense to use their web-based family tree software too.

Family Echo

As an alternative to Ancestry, why not consider Family Echo, a web-based family tree database management tool? After creating an account, you can import a GEDCOM file, and begin managing the family tree in your browser window.

While this isn’t as powerful as Ancestry’s family tree management option, biographical data can be added and there is also a sharing facility. If the bells and whistles of the feature-packed Ancestry prove distracting, Family Echo is a welcome antidote.

We’ve given you some great ways for you to record the vital details of your family tree using a Linux PC. Do you use any of these tools? Perhaps you use a custom solution, or a different application entirely? Tell us about it in the comments.

Image Credit: family tree by tomertu via Shutterstock

  1. David
    May 1, 2016 at 3:40 am

    Hi

    There is also a tool called ancestris which is cross platform

    • Christian Cawley
      May 1, 2016 at 7:52 am

      Good suggestion, thanks David!

  2. Clint Norwood
    April 28, 2016 at 6:45 pm

    I have found wikitree to be the most accurate genealogy website. And it's free.
    The moderators and volunteers at wikitree are very diligent about keeping the records clean and verifiable.
    Ancestry is good for research and document retrieval but the accuracy of a lot of the family trees leave a lot to be desired.

    • Christian Cawley
      April 28, 2016 at 7:16 pm

      Thanks Clint, I'll take a look at that.

      Do you get the feeling that many Ancestry trees are "thrown" together with little research beyond part read census data?

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