How to Install Popcorn Time on Ubuntu and Other Linux Distributions

Brief: This tutorial shows you how to install Popcorn Time on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. Some handy Popcorn Time tips have also been discussed.

Popcorn Time is an open source Netflix inspired torrent streaming application for Linux, Mac and Windows.

With the regular torrents, you have to wait for the download to finish before you could watch the videos.

Popcorn Time is different. It uses torrent underneath but allows you to start watching the videos (almost) immediately. It’s like you are watching videos on streaming websites like YouTube or Netflix. You don’t have to wait for the download to finish here.

Popcorn Time in Ubuntu Linux
Popcorn Time

If you want to watch movies online without those creepy ads, Popcorn Time is a good alternative. Keep in mind that the streaming quality depends on the number of available seeds.

Popcorn Time also provides a nice user interface where you can browse through available movies, tv-series and other contents. If you ever used Netflix on Linux, you will find it’s somewhat a similar experience.

Using torrent to download movies is illegal in several countries where there are strict laws against piracy. In countries like the USA, UK and West European you may even get legal notices. That said, it’s up to you to decide if you want to use it or not. You have been warned. 
(If you still want to take the risk and use Popcorn Time, you should use a VPN service like Ivacy that has been specifically designed for using Torrents and protecting your identity. Even then it’s not always easy to avoid the snooping authorities.)

Some of the main features of Popcorn Time are:

  • Watch movies and TV Series online using Torrent
  • A sleek user interface lets you browse the available movies and TV series
  • Change streaming quality
  • Bookmark content for watching later
  • Download content for offline viewing
  • Ability to enable subtitles by default, change the subtitles size etc
  • Keyboard shortcuts to navigate through Popcorn Time

How to install Popcorn Time on Ubuntu and other Linux Distributions

I am using Ubuntu 18.04 in this tutorial but you can use the same instructions for other Linux distributions such as Linux Mint, Debian etc.

Popcorn Time is available in the software center for Deepin Linux users. Manjaro and Arch users can easily install Popcorn Time using AUR.

Let’s see how to install Popcorn time on Linux. It’s really easy actually. Simply follow the instructions and copy paste the commands I have mentioned.

Step 0: Install dependencies

To avoid errors like “Popcorn-Time: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory” you should install some dependencies with this command:

sudo apt update && sudo apt install libcanberra-gtk-module libgconf-2-4 libatomic1

Step 1: Download Popcorn Time


Please note that due to legal troubles, Popcorn Time website keeps on changing its web address. It’s possible that while you are reading, the project might have moved to some other URL. In that case, please search the internet and download the software from a reliable source.

You can download Popcorn Time from its official website. The download link is present on the homepage itself.

Note: Popcorn Time 4.4 is now available. If you were using Popcorn Time 3 previously, the older version stops working. I advise that you remove the files from /opt/popcorntime and redo this tutorial.

Step 2: Install Popcorn Time 

Once you have downloaded Popcorn Time, it’s time to use it. The downloaded file is a tar file that consists of an executable among other files. While you can extract this tar file anywhere, the Linux convention is to install additional software in /opt directory.

Create a new directory in /opt:

sudo mkdir /opt/popcorntime

Now go to the Downloads directory.

cd ~/Downloads

The new Popcorn Time 4.4 is available in zip format. Unzip the file to the specified directory in Linux terminal like this:

sudo unzip -d /opt/popcorntime/

As a few readers have notified that Popcorn Time 4.4 is not working on their systems (it is fine on my system), I advise you to install the dependencies mentioned in step 0 and run sudo apt-get -f install afterwards.

Step 3: Make Popcorn Time accessible for everyone

You would want every user on your system to be able to run Popcorn Time without sudo access, right? To do that, you need to create a symbolic link to the executable in /usr/bin directory.

sudo ln -sf /opt/popcorntime/Popcorn-Time /usr/bin/Popcorn-Time

Step 4: Create desktop launcher for Popcorn Time

So far so good. But you would also like to see Popcorn Time in the application menu, add it to your favorite application list etc. 

For that, you need to create a desktop entry.

Open a terminal and create a new file named popcorntime.desktop in /usr/share/applications.

You can use any command line based text editor. Ubuntu has Nano installed by default so you can use that.

sudo nano /usr/share/applications/popcorntime.desktop

Insert the following lines here:

[Desktop Entry]
Version = 1.0
Type = Application
Terminal = false
Name = Popcorn Time
Exec = /usr/bin/Popcorn-Time
Icon = /opt/popcorntime/popcorn.png
Categories = Application;

If you used Nano editor, save it using shortcut Ctrl+X. When asked for saving, enter Y and then press enter again to save and exit.

We are almost there. One last thing to do here is to have the correct icon for Popcorn Time. For that, you can download a Popcorn Time icon and save it as popcorn.png in /opt/popcorntime directory.

You can do that using the command below:

sudo wget -O /opt/popcorntime/popcorn.png

That’s it. Now you can search for Popcorn Time and click on it to launch it.

Popcorn Time installed on Ubuntu
Search for Popcorn Time in Menu

Troubleshoot: If you don’t find the Popcorn Time in system menu immediately, run Popcorn-Time in the terminal.

On the first launch, you’ll have to accept the terms and conditions.

Popcorn Time in Ubuntu Linux
Accept the Terms of Service

Once you do that, you can enjoy the movies and TV shows.

Watch movies on Popcorn Time

Well, that’s all you needed to install Popcorn Time on Ubuntu or any other Linux distribution. You can start watching your favorite movies straightaway.

However, if you are interested, I would suggest reading these Popcorn Time tips to get more out of it.

Removing Popcorn Time from your system

To remove Popcorn Time from your system, you have to undo everything you did to install it. If you are familiar with Linux command line, you should be able to do it easily. I’ll provide the commands anyway.

Please be extra careful while entering the commands to delete the files. I have recommended using the -i option of rm command so that it asks for confirmation before removing the files.

Remove the link in the bin directory:

sudo rm -i /usr/bin/Popcorn-Time

And then remove the directory where Popcorn Time files are stored. The command below makes you switch to the /opt directory first and then remove the directory popcorntime. This reduces the risk of removing wrong files.

Run these commands one by one:

cd /opt
sudo rm -ri popcorntime

You should also remove the desktop file you created for the system integration by running the commands below one by one:

cd /usr/share/applications
sudo rm -i popcorntime.desktop

This should help you delete Popcorn Time from your system if you had installed it using the exact same steps mentioned in the tutorial here.

7 Tips for using Popcorn Time effectively

Now that you have installed Popcorn Time, I am going to tell you some nifty Popcorn Time tricks. I assure you that it will enhance your experience with Popcorn Time multiple folds.

1. Use advanced settings

Always have the advanced settings enabled. It gives you more options to tweak Popcorn Time. Go to the top right corner and click on the gear symbol. Click on it and check advanced settings on the next screen.

Enable Advanced settings in Popcorn Times

2. Watch the movies in VLC or other players

Did you know that you can choose to watch a file in your preferred media player instead of the default Popcorn Time player? Of course, that media player should have been installed in the system.

Now you may ask why would one want to use another player. And my answer is because other players like VLC has hidden features which you might not find in the Popcorn Time player.

For example, if a file has very low volume, you can use VLC to enhance the audio by 400 percent.  You can also synchronize incoherent subtitles with VLC. You can switch between media players before you start to play a file:

Change media player in Popcorn Time

3. Bookmark movies and watch it later

Just browsing through movies and TV series but don’t have time or mood to watch those? No issues. You can add the movies to the bookmark and can access these bookmarked videos from the Favorites tab. This enables you to create a list of movies you would watch later.

Save videos in bookmark in Popcorn Time

4. Check torrent health and seed information

As I had mentioned earlier, your viewing experience in Popcorn Times depends on torrent speed. Good thing is that Popcorn time shows the health of the torrent file so that you can be aware of the streaming speed.

You will see a green/yellow/red dot on the file. Green means there are plenty of seeds and the file will stream easily. Yellow means a medium number of seeds, streaming should be okay. Red means there are very few seeds available and the streaming will be poor or won’t work at all.

Check torrent health in Popcorn Time

5. Add custom subtitles

If you need subtitles and it is not available in your preferred language, you can add custom subtitles downloaded from external websites. Get the .srt files and use it inside Popcorn Time:

Add custom subtitles in Popcorn Time

This is where VLC comes handy as you can download subtitles automatically with VLC.

6. Save the files for offline viewing

When Popcorn Times stream a content, it downloads it and store temporarily. When you close the app, it’s cleaned out. You can change this behavior so that the downloaded file remains there for your future use.

In the advanced settings, scroll down a bit. Look for Cache directory. You can change this to some other directory like Downloads. This way, even if you close Popcorn Time, the file will be available for viewing.

Popcorn Time Tips

7. Drag and drop external torrent files to play immediately

I bet you did not know about this one. If you don’t find a certain movie on Popcorn Time, download the torrent file from your favorite torrent website. Open Popcorn Time and just drag and drop the torrent file in Popcorn Time. It will start playing the file, depending upon seeds. This way, you don’t need to download the entire file before watching it.

When you drag and drop the torrent file in Popcorn Time, it will give you the option to choose which video file should it play. If there are subtitles in it, it will play automatically or else, you can add external subtitles. 

Popcorn Times can play external torrent files

There are plenty of other features in Popcorn Time. But I’ll stop with my list here and let you explore Popcorn Time on Ubuntu Linux. I hope you find these Popcorn Time tips and tricks useful. 

I am repeating again. Using Torrents is illegal in many countries. If you do that, take precaution and use a VPN service. If you are looking for my recommendation, you can go for Swiss-based privacy company ProtonVPN (of ProtonMail fame). Singapore based Ivacy is another good option. If you think these are expensive, you can look for cheap VPN deals on It’s FOSS Shop.

Note: This article contains affiliate links. Please read our affiliate policy.

About the author
Abhishek Prakash

Abhishek Prakash

Created It's FOSS 11 years ago to share my Linux adventures. Have a Master's degree in Engineering and years of IT industry experience. Huge fan of Agatha Christie detective mysteries πŸ•΅οΈβ€β™‚οΈ

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