Tools in Ubuntu‎ > ‎

QR encoding

QR encoding is a nice and neat way of sharing text and web URL's. In Ubuntu there are two ways of making these QR codes. qrencode is a text based encoder. QtQr is a gui based tool, with also posibilities for decoding these codes with use of your webcam. Scan with your webcam and open the URL in your browser. 


A Quick Response is a ‘two-dimensional barcode’ made up of black squares on a white background. Used in Android and Blackberry mobile phones for reading URL's.

The creation of QR codes in Ubuntu is simple, though command-line based. You will need to install ‘qrencode‘ from the Ubuntu Software Center - you can search for ‘qrencode’ manually, or use a terminal :

sudo apt-get install qrencode

Once Qrencode has been successfully installed you can create QR codes using the Terminal and the following command structure: -

qrencode -o- [filename.png] '[text or URL to encode]' 

For instance a command to create a link to google in your homefolder  you would run: -

qrencode -o google.png ''

this outputs the following: -

You can make the ‘pixels’ used in the code bigger by using the ‘-s‘ argument. Let’s make the same QR code but with the square pixels increased to 6×6 and have the .png saved somewhere else, e.g. your desktop:

qrencode -o ~/Desktop/google.png -s 6 ''

The result is:

 A Gui is being developed by David Green. Read more about that here:

You could use the web-based graphical interface to Google's QR generator at and as for reading QR codes on the desktop, I've found an AIR app that works OK at

The Google Charts API does this. See An example:


Along with the ability to quickly create custom QrCodes containing text, URLs, e-mail, SMS and telephone numbers QtQr also comes with a 'decoding' feature. 
You can use your webcam to decode a QrCode (for example, one you find in a magazine) or you can used a saved Qrcode image.

For example: I saved the 'QrCode' from our Android Application announcment post to my desktop, opened QtQr and selected it for decoding. A split second later a pop-up told me what it contained: -

Very neat.


You can try it yourself by installing the app from the application's stable PPA.
Add 'ppa:qr-tools-developers/qr-tools-stable' to your Software Sources, update and then search for and install 'QtQr' via the Ubuntu Software Centre.

QR codes via the web

1. ZXing Project QR Code Generator

While it won’t win any prizes for looks, the ZXing Project QR Code Generator is easy to use and is very flexible. How simple and flexible?

Just choose the type of content that you want the QR code to contain. It can be any of the following:

  • A calendar event
  • Your contact information
  • A geographic location
  • An email address
  • A phone number
  • A short message to be sent by SMS
  • A block of text
  • A URL
  • Login information for a wireless network

Then, you just type information in the fields on page and click the Generate button to create your QR code.

2. QRStuff

If you want even more flexibility, then you’ll want to check out QRStuff. It’s one of the most fully-feature QR code generators available, yet remains easy to use.

You get the same content options as you do with the ZXing Project generator, along with a few other options. These include PayPal Buy Now Link, links to various social media services, a link to content in the Apple iTunes Store, and a link to a video on YouTube. You can also use QRStuff’s built-in URL shortener – the shortened URLs begin with

What really sets QRStuff apart, though, is the ability to change the color of your QR codes. Don’t like the standard black and white? Then change it to a shade of green, a nice red, or even bold blue.


If you’re a back-to-basics kind of person, then GOQR might be what you’re looking for. It’s basic, but has a few options that set it apart from other QR code generators.

How basic? You can only create QR codes that contain text, a URL, a telephone number, and SMS message, or contact information. Nothing special, but not bad.

But, as I mentioned a couple of paragraphs ago, GOQR has a some very useful features. The first is the ability to change the size of your QR codes. Most generators create QR codes in three sizes: large (350 px by 350 px), medium (230 px by 230 px), and small (120 px by 120 px). With GOQR, you can use a slider to change the size of your QR code in five pixel increments. You can go as small as 60 px by 60 px or as large as 1000 px by 1000 px.

If you click the Options button, you can also change the foreground and background color of your QR code and add a margin around it.

4. Maestro

Maestro makes creating a QR code both simple and graphical. While it doesn’t offer a lot of options for the type of content to include in a QR code, it’s probably one of the easiest to use (and visually pleasing) QR code generator on the web.

You can use Maestro to create QR codes that contain:

  • Phone numbers
  • SMS messages
  • URLs
  • Map information
  • Contact information
  • Text
  • Calendar events
  • Links to content in the Android Market, BlackBerry App World, and the iTunes App Store

Maestro takes things a step further. You can add headings to your QR codes – sort marketing messages, for example. Maestro also generates an HTML image tag that you can embed in a website or blog (assuming you don’t want to download an image). On top of that, you can change the color of the QR code.

Creating your own QR code is quick and easy. While the four QR code generators we’ve just looked at are among the best ones out there, you can find more by doing a search with your favorite search engine.