How to use Joplin desktop app on FreeBSD

This is a quick note on how I build and use the latest Joplin desktop app on FreeBSD.

For my initial exploration of Joplin on FreeBSD, please refer to the previous post.

Target Version

The current target version of this article is Joplin Desktop release v2.7.13 (Feb 2022).
I confirmed that the app could be built using my fork at the tag freebsd-v2.7.13. Joplin Version

Building Joplin

I take the following steps to build Joplin desktop on my FreeBSD 12.3-RELEASE system (with XFCE4 desktop).

  1. Install dependencies such as Electron and Nodejs.
    As of 27 Feb 2022, all dependencies except electron13 can be installed from the FreeBSD’s official packages.
    (electron13 binary package is not available for FreeBSD 12/amd64 yet, while ones for FreeBSD 13/amd64 and some other architectures/versions are available.)

    sudo pkg install node npm-node python vips git rsync gnome-keyring gmake

    To use the latest software versions, you might want to switch the package repository from ‘quarterly’ to ‘latest’.
    Please refer to the relevant section of the FreeBSD Handbook for the steps.

    For now, on 12.x you have to install electron13 by building its port.
    The most basic steps to build the port are something like:

    sudo portsnap fetch update
    cd /usr/ports/devel/electron13
    sudo make install

    But I’m using poudriere to build specific ports, actually.
    Please note that building a huge software like electron with poudriere requires some care (Refer to My tweet).

    Another option is to download and install a pre-built binary package from the pre-official repository at the following URL.

  2. Clone my forked version of Joplin and switch to electron_freebsd branch, which includes some modifications for FreeBSD.

    cd ~/tmp/or/somewhere
    git clone
    cd joplin
    git checkout electron_freebsd

    If the head of the branch cannot be built (it occurs from time to time), please try the tagged version which I confirmed to be built.
    As of 27 Feb 2022, the latest confirmed tag is freebsd-v2.7.13 and it can be checked out as follows:

    git checkout freebsd-v2.7.13
  3. Make a small tweak to work around the lzma-native build failure issue.

    mkdir ~/bin
    ln -s /usr/local/bin/gmake ~/bin/make
  4. Build the application by mostly following the original build instruction.

    PATH=~/bin:$PATH npm install
    cd packages/app-desktop
    npm run build


    • PATH=~/bin:$PATH is prepended in order to use the tweak made in the previous step.
    • I use npm run build instead of npm start because it looks like the latter doesn’t expect I’m using the globally installed electron.
  5. Now you can run the desktop (Electron) app by running the following command

    electron13 .

    or by running a script included in my fork


    When you encounter one of the following errors, please make sure that gnome-keyring’s secret service is available on your system.

    Error: The name org.freedesktop.secrets was not provided by any .service files
    Error: Unknown or unsupported transport 'disabled' for address 'disabled:

    You would be able to enable the service on your desktop environment’s automatic startup settings. For example, on XFCE4 it can be enabled by checking “Launch GNOME services on startup” on “Settings” > “Session and Startup” > “Advanced” tab.

    Or if you try to run Joplin on a headless system like jail with the help of SSH X11 forwarding (as I do for testing), the easiest way seems to be running it with dbus-run-session(1) like:

    dbus-run-session -- electron9 .
    dbus-run-session -- ./joplin-desktop

Workaround for LSEP showing up in CJK input methods

NOTE: The problem seems to have been resolved on Joplin v1.1.x or later with the editor component changed from Ace Editor to CodeMirror. Also, it is not FreeBSD-specific. But anyway, I wrote it down here for future reference.

This issue was reported several times as below.

As pointed out in the issue #1500, it looks like unfixable as it might be an Ace Editor issue.
But for users who have to use some “input method” for entering text, it is really annoying.

Joplin LSEP

Fortunately, this issue can be worked around by using a special font which has only a single zero-width glyph for the weird character (U+2028 Line Separator).


Revision History

  1. Before the Joplin-wide stylesheet was implemented in v1.0.176, I had been using a small patch to make “Editor font family” accept multiple fonts separated by comma, just for this purpose. ↩︎

  2. The menu creates and edits ~/.config/joplin-desktop/userchrome.css. ↩︎

  3. As NoLSEP font is used only for this specific purpose, I didn’t want to install it in the system-wide directory such as /usr/local/share/fonts/TTF. So I put it under my home directory and defined @font-face rule to use it. ↩︎