I am trying to install version 5.1 of JabRef (ElementaryOS brings 3.8.2) in my system. Up to now I have tried two methods:

  1. Install the deb from jabref webpage. In this case, I can open jabref but it is unresponsive (menu options do not work).
  2. snap install jabref. In this case I get an exception an the program closes when I click in a menu.

Any idea on how to do it?

  • There is a 3rd option... Installing it from flathub may work: flathub.org/apps/details/org.jabref.jabref Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 15:14
  • Thanks. I didn't know bout flathub. Unfortunately, I have tried this option but I get same results than using option 1.
    – pglez82
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


I finally got it working. In my case the solution was forcing JabRef to use GTK2 instead of GTK3. Here are the steps:

  1. Download and install the .deb with sudo dpkg -i jabref_5.1-1_amd64.deb
  2. Fix dependencies if neccesary sudo apt-get install -f
  3. Locate the file JabRef.cfg. In my case it was in /opt/jabref/lib/app.
  4. Modify this file and add in the [Java Options] section -Djdk.gtk.version=2.

After that JabRef started working flawlessly.


After I updated to JabRef 5.2, the problem came back. After consulting with JabRef developers in github, I had to use this other workaround:

  1. Modify the file /opt/jabref/lib/runtime/bin/JabRef and add the -Djdk.gtk.version=2 modifier. Something like this: "$DIR/java" -p "$DIR/../app" -Djdk.gtk.version=2 -m org.jabref/org.jabref.gui.JabRefLauncher "$@"
  2. Modify the launcher so it points to this file. For that I installed menulibre (sudo apt-get install menulibre) and I modified JabRef entry to point to /opt/jabref/lib/runtime/bin/JabRef.
  • Nice! You can accept your own answer, sot that other can sfind this solution easier.
    – Vlad
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 17:03
  • seems I have to wait for two days for doing that. I will do it then! thx.
    – pglez82
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 18:36

The best/easy way to install deb files is to use the Eddy app from the AppCenter https://appcenter.elementary.io/com.github.donadigo.eddy/

You can also use the Terminal:

sudo dpkg -i package_name.deb

  • Yes, I installed the deb using dpkg and jabref installs but when I open it, it is unresponsive. Anyone has this app installed in ElementaryOS?
    – pglez82
    Commented Dec 10, 2020 at 15:58

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