Add Instagram Like Effects With XnRetro On Ubuntu Linux

Add vintage retro effects in Ubuntu Linux

Instagram makes a normal photo way cooler by adding several effects. While there are several such photo apps available on mobile devices, what about Linux? Do we have Instagram alternatives for Linux? In this “app of the week” series, we’ll see a desktop application, XnRetro, which adds Instagram like effects to images in Linux.  This application is available for Windows, Mac and Linux.

I had previous written on how to get Android like live wallpapers in Ubuntu. In this article, I’ll show you how to install and use XnRetro to add retro effects in Ubuntu Linux.

Install XnRetro in Linux:

There are no .deb installer for XnRetro. But the installer package contains the executable.

Download XnRetro for Linux

Once you have downloaded the .tar compressed package, extract it. You can extract it in GUI by right clicking on it. Now go to the extracted folder. You can see the executable here. Just double-click on it to run the program.

Instagram effects in Ubuntu

Include XnRetro in Unity HUD [for intermediate user]:

Though it is easy to run XnRetro by double clicking on the executable, it is not convenient. We are more habitual of runing a program by searching it in Unity HUD or keeping it in launcher for quick access. Going to the XnRetro directory again and again just for running it, is not very comfortable. Wouldn’t it be better if it could be added to Unity or Gnome menu like any standard application? It definitely would be and this is what I am going to show you next.

First thing, I keep such applications in a separate directory rather than keep them lying in the Downloads. It’s up to you to choose where to keep the application directory. Second thing, I presume that you are familiar with some of the basic shell commands and understand how to move around Ubuntu system to carry out this step.

  • Go to the directory where XnRetro was extracted. You’ll find a XnRetro.desktop file here. You have to edit this file. You can do it in Vi editor in terminal or you can simply open Gedit and drag and drop the file in it to edit.
  • In this file change the path to Exec and Icon to the location where they exist i.e. in the extracted directory.
    Add XnRetro in Ubuntu Unity
  • When you have made the required changes in theXnRetro.desktop, copy it to /usr/share/applications directory. You’ll need super user privilege. If you are in the same directory as XnRetro.desktop, use the following command to copy it:
    sudo cp XnRetro.desktop /usr/share/applications

That’s it. No need to restart or anything. You can now find Xnretro in Unity HUD and can keep it in launcher as well.

XnRetro in Ubuntu Unity

How to use XnRetro to add Instagram like effects in Ubuntu:

Using XnRetro is pretty much straight forward. It has 20 color effects and 15 light effects. Simply open your photo in XnRetro, click on the effects from the bottom panel, like you do in Instagram. You can even apply more than one effects to same image. You can even change the hue, saturation etc for a given effect.

Add Instagram like effect in Ubuntu with XnRetro

Once you have got the desired effect, you can save the image in either of PNG or JEPG format. I had troubles saving the images in JPEG though. It also allows you to share the image on several social media sites.


  • 20 color effects
  • 15 light effects
  • 28 frame borders
  • Allows adjustments like contrast, gamma, saturation etc
  • Vignetting
  • Noise
  • Save and/or share the result on social media sites


As a stand alone desktop application, XnRetro is not a bad alternative to Instagram in Linux. It does what it says in simple steps as well as it gives a lot more customization option. If you are a frequent Instagram user or like Instagram-ish images, XnRetro is a must try. It also means that you’ll be seeing a lot of images with Instagram effect on It’s FOSS soon :P In suggest read, I advise you to check this list of best applications for imaging in Linux.

How do you find XnRetro? Do you use any other desktop application? Troubles, questions, suggestions? Feel free to hit the comment section :)

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  • It looks like a neat app. It won’t launch even following the directions (with my file structure included of course) and seperately installing it from the Ubuntu software center. I wish it worked, it really does look like a neat app, but so is the world of linux :)

  • Soooooo buggy app!!! Hell! I lost 1 hour of my time cause of your usability BUG!!!

    WHY the hell don’t you SAVE image in case when i DO NOT select image type in small select list at the right bottom of save-dialog ???? WHY it has DEFAUL “NONE”???

    WHY don’t you implement BATCH saving? It will be a killer-feature if i only could apply filters to one image and make a batch processing of other 100+ images by the same filtering.

    WHY don’t rename extension of saved image in case when i open JPG and wanna save it like png?? Why do you save processed file as PNG but with JPG extension?

  • Hi Abhishek, thanks for this useful information. Were you able to find a fix for saving the files as jpeg? On my machine, this also does not work.

  • I performed all the things you said, but the application isn’t opening, neither through the executable nor through the Unity Hud.