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Linux for Chess Part 3 - Installing chess software in Debian 11

Welcome to the next and final part of the course on Debian and computer chess.

In the previous two parts, we learned how to obtain and install the Debian system from scratch, and we learned methods for customizing and preparing this system for use with chess software.

This the third part is related to the article: Tools in a chess player's workshop - Linux - there I present the best free software for various chess purposes.

Now, I will show you how to install these interesting programs designed to run on Linux.

Additionally, we will acquire and prepare for use a chess database of over 5 million games !

Like the first two parts of this course, this part is designed more for beginners. All information will be presented in enough detail that anyone who has acquired knowledge from the previous parts of this course will be able to install the programs presented.

1. Lucas Chess - Training /Practice

Go to the Lucas chess program download page:

Download the installer marked with a red border.

You will be taken to the SOURCEFORGE page and after a few seconds the download will start.

Select Save File and click OK.

Good. The Lucas Chess program installer has been downloaded.

Open the Terminal program.

Let's go to the Downloads directory.

Type in Terminal:


For your reminder, press the Enter key at the end of each command.

Now type:

cd Downloads


And type:


You should see the downloaded installer.

Let's run the installer.



The installer will start working.

Then a window will appear where we can choose whether to install Lucas Chess or run it without installation.

Our goal is to install, so click on Install.

After a while, the program will be installed and a window with a message will be shown.

When you click Close, the Lucas Chess program will automatically start.

Excellent :)

Now you can use Lucas Chess !

1.1 Lucas Chess - Launch & Shortcut to the program.

Lucas Chess can be started as standard, via Show Applications.

After typing the first letters of the name, the program icon should show up.

Clicking the left mouse button will launch Lucas Chess.

Instead, if you right-click on the Lucas Chess program icon, then an additional menu will appear where you can, for example, add a shortcut to this program to the Activities bar.

When you click on the Activities bar, a shortcut to the Lucas Chess program will appear.

Of course, you can change the position of the shortcut to your preference by left-clicking and dragging it to the desired location on the Activities bar.

In this way, you can add and remove from the Activities menu other shortcuts to programs that, for example, you don't use very often.

2. PyChess - PlayChess Offline & Online

Open the Software program.

Type PyChess in the search engine.

PyChess should appear in the search result.

Click on it; you will be taken to a window containing a description of the PyChess program.

From this window, you can install PyChes by clicking on the Install button.

Confirm the installation by entering your account password. When finished, press the Enter key or click Authenticate.

Installation will take a while.

After the installation is complete, you will be able to start the program immediately from within Software by clicking on the Launch button.


You have installed one of the most interesting chess programs for Linux :)

At the time of creating this part of the course, PyChess available through Software is in the stable version number 1.0.0. And this stable version I recommend to use.

However, if you are interested in using even newer versions, keep a close eye on the PyChess program messages right after you start it.

To install the latest version of PyChess, go to:

And download the latest installer with the .deb extension

In this case, the latest one is: python3-pychess_1.0.3-1_all.deb

Before installing the latest PyChess, I suggest you remove the currently installed version of this program.

To install PyChess downloaded in .deb format, we will use the GDebi program that we previously installed in Debian 11 (for details, see Part 2 of this course called: Linux for Chess Part 2 - Debian 11 customization).

When it starts, click File - Open...

Point to the downloaded installer, which should be in the Download directory. Then click Open.

Now, when you click on the Install Package button.

PyChess will be installed.

If a window appears asking you to authenticate this installation, then enter your account password and press Enter.

We can watch the installation progress of the latest version of PyChess.

Installation completed.

You have installed the latest version of PyChess.

In the same way as with Lucas Chess, we can add a PyChess shortcut icon to the Activities bar.

After removing unnecessary shortcuts and installing the two chess programs described above, my Activities bar looks like this:

3. Scid s. PC - Chess Games Annotations / Database / Analyzes

As in the case of PyChess, just with a few clicks we can install Scid vs. PC via Software.

Also in this case we do not have the newest version of this program, but a high version number: 4.21.

On the day I created this part of the course, the latest Scid vs. PC is version 4.23. To install it, you have to download the source code of this program and compile it. I invite you to check out my article detailing how to do this.

If you are interested in Scid vs. PC version 4.22, you can download this version as an installer with .DEB extension here. Install using the GDebi program.

In my opinion, the difference between version 4.21 and 4.23 is not big. If you want to avoid compiling this program, it is a good idea to install it through Software.

Open the Software program and in the search area type: scid

Install in the same way as the previously mentioned PyChess program - click Install and continue the process.

This is what Scid vs. PC 4.21 looks like after its first run.

How to use Scid vs. PC effectively, I described in free courses I published on my website. First part of the course about Scid vs. PC is available here: Scid vs. PC - Efficient work with a chess database

Although the appearance of Scid vs. PC is not modern, don't let it confuse you.

Scid vs. PC is the most powerful free program in the class of chess programs supporting chess databases.

In many applications it is not inferior to its commercial counterparts such as Chess Assistant and ChessBase.

3.1. Scid - Chess Games Annotations / Database / Analyzes

When writing about Scid vs. PC, one cannot forget about the Scid program.

The similar name of both programs is not accidental. Scid is a program - the "older brother" of Scid vs. PC.

More or less since 2009 Scid vs. PC has gone its own way introducing new features.

Scid is also develop and mainly focused on working with large chess databases and using chess engines.

Undoubtedly, Scid is a very good program, if you don't care about additional features and you value stability, give Scid a chance and install it.

If you would like to use the latest version of Scid, please go to this page. From there, you can download the source code or the installer in DEB format (ready to install with GDebi).

If you are more interested in working with the most stable version of Scid, then you can download it via Synaptic Package Manager.


Open Synaptic Package Manager

If a window appears requiring authentication, type the password for your account and press Enter.


Type Scid in the search engine.


Now click on the square next to the scid name to mark this program for installation.

A window will appear asking whether to install the add-ons and required packages. Confirm by clicking on the Mark button.


You can mark other components for installation that you will use while working with Scid. I additionally chose data useful for working with databases and Stockfish chess engine.


When you have selected everything you need, click Apply.


Before you start installing Scid and components, you can browse the list of packages after expanding To be installed or click Apply.


The files will be downloaded...

...And installed.


When finished, the installed Scid and the added packages will be highlighted with green squares in the Synaptic Package Manager window.

You can close Synaptic Package Manager.

Scid is available among other programs, we can run it using shortcut.

Scid 4.7.0 is ready to work.

3.2. Scid s. PC / Scid - Downloading and installing a big and good chess database.

For free and legally we can download Caissaase, a chess database containing as many as 5.61 million games (January 2022).

This is an excellent database where you will find the newest chess games, but also the oldest ones. Caissabase is updated regularly thanks to the work of a man nicknamed @caissabase (link goes to Twitter page).

Caissabase can be downloaded from:

Installing Caissabase is very easy. Download and unzip Caissabase.

Then run the program Scid vs. PC and open the unpacked Caissabase.

In the Scid program, opening Caissabase is the same way.

Within seconds, Caissabase will be opened and installed in Scid vs. PC.

The window with the list of chess games can be opened through the Windows menu.

Scid vs. PC sample view with Caissabase's list of chess games.

Scid sample view with Caissabase's list of chess games.

In the future, after opening Scid vs. PC there is no need to install Caissabase again. It is available from the File menu.

4. Arena - Chess Engines.

Arena is yet another example of a very good Linux software that is not inferior to its commercial alternatives.

This program stands out for its richness of useful functions and stability of operation.

Arena can be downloaded from:

On the main page click on the visible link named: Arena 3.10beta for Linux (Fix for Debian)

Download the installation file by clicking on the link marked with a red border.

Click OK button. The file will be downloaded to the Downloads directory.

Extract the file.

To run Arena, first open the arenalinux_64bit_3.10beta directory by double-clicking with the left mouse button.

Then right-click on the selected file named Arena_x86_64_linux and select Run.

(You can also run Arena by double-clicking the left mouse button on this file)

Arena program will be launched.

After selecting the language, click the OK button.

I suggest approving the installation fonts by clicking Yes.

It is also a good idea to agree to a desktop icon with a shortcut to the Arena program. Click the Yes button.

Now, you can use Arena on a Debian system.

If Arena is going to be a frequently used program by you, it's worth putting it on the Activities bar.

5. Banksia GUI - Chess Engines

Banksia GUI is a dynamically developed project with frequent updates. The program is strongly focused on the use of chess engines with a particular emphasis on matches and tournaments. Among other things, the program is distinguished by the ability to play many simultaneous matches at the same time, which makes it a useful tool when, for example, testing, calculating rankings and looking for novelties in chess openings.

To download the latest version of the Banksia GUI, go to this page:

When you click on the link highlighting the file for Linux, the download will begin.

When the download is complete, go to the Downloads directory and extract the file containing the Banksia GUI.

The newly created directory with the program can be moved to any place of your choice or just left in the Downloads directory.

To start the Banksia GUI, let's open the directory of this program to reach the launch file.

The startup file is


Before running Banksia GUI, make sure that the option to run executable text files is checked in the Files program preferences - see image below.

Running executable text files is explained in the second part of this course: Linux for Chess Part 2 - Debian 11 customization.

When double-clicked, the Banksia GUI program will be launched.

We have the latest version - Banksia GUI 0.54 beta (as of June 2022).


You can use another great chess program :)

6. ChessX, Jerry, ...

And other chess programs - install in the same way as the programs presented in this part of the course.

7. Chess engines

The natural way to obtain chess engines in Debian 11, is to download them from the official repositories via Synaptic Package Manager. This has the advantage that you will get engines that are stable and work perfectly on your system, and that are ready to go as soon as you download them.

The engines available for download are not many - a dozen or so. They represent different chess power. For example:

  • Gnome Chess, PyChess - average player

  • Sjeng - a strong club player

  • Phalanx - a master

  • Fruit - grandmaster

  • Glaurung - strong grandmaster able to beat any man including the World Champion

  • Ethereal, Stockfish - super grandmasters capable of winning 100 chess games out of 100 against any human and most other chess engines.

Some of them, e.g. Stockfish can be force-adjusted - that is, set the game of the engine so that it will be an equal opponent for e.g. a beginner (Stockfish level 3: 1000 - 1300 Elo).

Here is the list of available chess engines for Debian 11 via Synaptic Package Manager (June 2022).

Most of these engines also allow you to configure specific parameters of their game. This is a very useful capability, allowing you, for example, to completely change the playing style of a particular chess engine.

Galurung provides so many important parameters that the user can even create different personalities, playing in very different styles.

The chess engines in the Debian repositories are a nice thing, but not without certain weakens. Due to regular but not always timely updates, some of these engines will not be in their latest versions. As an example, the Stockfish engine is version 12 in the repository, while the latest version available for download from the engine's website is Stockfish 15 .

However, if you don't care about the super playing power of the latest versions of chess engines, then you should definitely consider downloading the chess engines listed above through Synaptic Package Manager.

Probably most Linux users download latest chess engines prepared for their system from verified sources such as developers' websites (e.g. Komodo Chess, Stockfish, Koivisto) or from hosting services (e.g. Berserk - GitHub, Stash - GitLab, Olivechess - SourceForge).

The most convenient way to use chess engines is with specialized programs. In Debian 11 system, any of the programs described here, especially Arena, Banksia GUI, Scid or Scid vs. PC.

As an example, I will show how to install the Stockfish chess engine in Scid.

I assume you downloaded the Scid program and Stockfish engine using Synaptic Package Manager. This way you have this software ready to use.


Start Scid and under Tools menu open Analysis Engine...


In the newly opened window, click New...


In the next window, fill in the Name and Command fields.

After clicking OK, the Stockfish chess engine will be available for use in Scid.


To test the engine, double left click on the line with the name Stockfish 12.

In the main window of Scid, the analysis tab will open: Analysis: Stockfish 12.

As you can see, Stockfish 12 works well.

Wasn't it simple ? :)

And this is what working in Debian 11 with good software can be like: easy, quite pleasant, fast, and efficient.

It is a good idea to make sure that your Debian system is well prepared and customized for your needs. This will make it easier to install programs and chess engines from various sources and also to compile them.

At the end of this course, I thank you for your trust and wish you many successful installations and most of all satisfaction while using cool chess programs for Linux.


This is the end of the course:

Linux for Chess Part 3 - Installing chess software in Debian 11

I invite you to choose the next course :-))



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