Getting Started for users of Ubuntu / Ubuntu Budgie 20.04

How to install and configure Gramps 5.1.2 on Ubuntu 20.04 (and probably other Ubuntu flavours), and be able to produce a standard family tree chart. There seem to be many ways of working in Gramps - the below works ok for me.

Install Gramps:

sudo apt-get install gramps

Install extras for Chart views (the first may already be installed on your distro):

sudo apt-get install graphviz
sudo apt install gir1.2-goocanvas-2.0

Now start Gramps from the desktop main menu.

Edit, Preferences, General tab, Third Party Addons Management:
Check for Addon updates: Always, What to check: New & Updated,
Clear the ‘Do not ask’ checkbox.
Click ‘Check for Updated Addons Now’ button
Select All, click Install button.
[I got 2 errors: 1. PostgresSQL (1.0.10) Network Chart (0.0.23) error, 2. LifeLineChartView Plugin failed to load required module life-line-chart version 1.7.5; these errors haven’t caused any problems yet]
Close, Close

To make a new family tree: top menu Family Trees, Manage, New, provide a name

On left-hand menu select People, and enter a number of people using the + button at the top; in each case enter at least Given Name, Family Name then using the Events tab:
Hit +, event type Birth, give a date. To add a picture of the person select the Gallery tab, click +, select a picture (jpg is ok), OK, OK, OK

To choose a set of parents, click Families on the left, hit +, select Partner1 and Partner2 using the ‘Select a Person’ buttons. Then if desired on the Events tab, +, Marriage, give a date, OK, OK

Now select an adult parent in the People list (single click), then click Relationships on the left.
Click the + by Family, select Children tab, click +, Add Existing Person button, select the child, OK, OK

To see a pretty standard view of the family tree:
Click People on the left & select a parent (single click)
Click Charts on the left
Menu at top: View, Graph View

I’d be happy to edit this if there are neater quicker methods or if there are errors.


Hi Norman, good initiative to create an installation guide.
There are a few additional packages you need to have all addons working properly. You can find them here: GitHub - gramps-project/gramps: Source code for Gramps Genealogical program. You have to scroll down to find the list with all the requirements.
Another thing to mention is that Gramps don’t store all your media like pictures and scanned source information. So you need to create a directory (I am using /srv/gramps for that purpose) and create a link in Gramps to that directory via ‘edit’ > ‘preferences’ > fill in your directory (/srv/gramps/) in ‘base path for relative media paths’. After that you can store for example a picture in that directory and create a link to that via Media in Gramps (by doing that you can check the checkbox ‘convert to a relative path’ which you see in the ‘Select a media object’ screen at the bottom).

Hope this helps a bit :slight_smile:

1 Like

Thanks Jan - unfortunately I don’t see that list when I go to the link you give.

For the directories: yes I did discover early that Gramps doesn’t transfer eg image files into its database - so I did create a set of directories (in any case needed for things like images of trees or docs that apply across the project). An issue I have is that if I want to rename a file (for example to create an improved naming convention) - I don’t see a way of searching the gramps database for that filename.

Now that I’ve used Gramps for a couple of weeks I start to see what a terrific piece of software it is! There are a few self-created problems that I have discovered - for example not entering place of birth/baptism etc etc - things that help when triangulating data to identify a person with near certainty. I also struggle a bit in what I feel is certain enough to link to a parent or child. There are also a few things that I haven’t found (for example indicating an approximate date so that in all lists more that just the date is displayed eg 1867 or <1867 or 1867±1 or bap1867 or bur1867 etc. I know this can be in a comment, but if visible scrolling through the People list would help spot merges or id.

I’ll update my little installation guide when I’ve used Gramps a bit more.

Maybe a more specific link: GitHub - gramps-project/gramps: Source code for Gramps Genealogical program

If you rename a filename you can search for the old filename via Media and at the right you find a filter. In the filter you can put the filename (or a part of it). Click on search and your media item appears. Double click on the item and change the path into the new file name.

And yes, starting with Gramps is a painful process. So, I suggest you should watch a few videos like Gramps Tutorial #4: Creating a tree & adding people & relationships - YouTube and read the wiki (Gramps). And of course the manual (Portal:Using Gramps - Gramps).

But, be aware Gramps is created by a community who believe in open source software. So, anyone can provide new ideas or improve things. I am using Gramps for several years now and I see a lot of improvements every year.

If you’ve forgotten to fill in information like birth locations or dates you always can do that on another time (via Persons, looking for the person you need and double click on that one).
And there you’ll be able to adjust the way a date appears for that person (next to the date field there’s a button ‘start date editor’).

Most important for using Gramps is the way you organize your work. And then you’ll see how flexible Gramps is. Two scenarios:

  1. Start with collecting sources: add a source via Media, link to it via Sources, add it to a (new) person in Person. By doing that, a citation will be created automatically.
  2. Start with a (new) person in Person, fill in all information you know and create a (new) source from that person directly (in tab source citations, click on + sign). Or, if you don’t have that source information, you can mark that person with a tag (for example: ‘source needed’) so you can do that on another moment.
    So, you’re not forged to use one way of working :slight_smile:

Thanks again Jan. After these couple of weeks I have at last understood that getting the workflow right is rather important! After my initial hiccups I found that basics all easy and logical (maybe helped by my background in database design - I can see the logic of dealing with the frequent many-to-many relationships!). So much work goes into it that I also see the vital importance of regular backups (ok & in hand). I’ll try your suggestions.
(BTW open-source is always my 1st choice!)