Was asked by a new Ubuntu user - who also wants to learn about programming - what he could use to run BASIC code. He was working through a BASIC book before trying out Ubuntu, and he'd like to continue without having to switch back to Windows.

It looks like there are a few BASIC packages in the standard repositories, as well as projects like Mono which may include some kind of BASIC support.

What would be a good recommendation from the standard repositories - or from a deb package - for someone learning the basics of BASIC and new to Ubuntu?

  • 1
    That highly depends on which BASIC dialect he's learning.
    – sepp2k
    Oct 11, 2010 at 16:12
  • I know you specifically asked to avoid language recommendations, but there is a huge improvement to learning programming with a language such as Python compared to Basic. Your friend should consider other languages—in addition to, not necessarily instead of.
    – Roger Pate
    Oct 12, 2010 at 19:15
  • @Roger, Yeah, I know, and I'll probably recommend something like that. Right now I just wanted to tell him how he can continue what he was learning with Ubuntu.
    – Tim Lytle
    Oct 12, 2010 at 20:06

9 Answers 9


Searching apt reveals

  • basic256 - educational BASIC programming environment for children
  • yabasic - Yet Another BASIC interpreter

basic256 seems it might be a little better suited for the user, but I'm not sure how closely that dialect will match whatever is in his programming book, which might be frustrating.

Homepage here - http://www.basic256.org/index_en

yabasic seems closer to standard BASIC, but I really have no first-hand experience with either.

Good luck.


Gambas is the nearest equivalent to Visual Basic (It is quite geared towards desktop apps), so would be good if your friend was using Visual Basic.

Gambas is a free development environment based on a Basic interpreter with object extensions, a bit like Visual Basic™ (but it is NOT a clone !). Read the introduction for more information.

With Gambas, you can quickly design your program GUI with Qt or GTK+, access MySQL, PostgreSQL, Firebird, ODBC and SQLite databases, pilot KDE applications with DCOP, translate your program into any language, create network applications easily, make 3D OpenGL applications, make CGI web applications, and so on...

  • FYI-I have not been able to get Gambas to work with several versions of xubunta.
    – jwzumwalt
    Jul 5, 2020 at 7:54

If he is more interested in making games, sdlBasic would be a better option:

sdlBasicInstall Sdlbasic is a small, efficient and multiplatform basic interpreter aimed to game creation using the power of SDL library, it was inspired by the old and glorious AMOS.

  • 6
    Was there really a need to put this in a separate answer rather than include it in your first answer?
    – Roger Pate
    Oct 12, 2010 at 19:17
  • 2
    So that people can vote between the separate basics to give an indication of which is most suitable.
    – dv3500ea
    Oct 12, 2010 at 20:20

why not take look at this small but effective interpreter: my-basic written in C. It's portable. I consider it a good start for either playing a little BASIC or learning how to write a BASIC interpreter in C.


I still write some small stuff in QB64. But I'm mostly concerned with data and data manipulation and not graphics. Just finished a tiny program to convert info from one accounting package to another one. Took me a week to write it. Running the program successfully converted 6 years of info before my coffee got cold.

Small, compact, but very powerful. Only screen display was showing the file conversions taking place as well as a 'Start' screen and a 'Conversion Successful' completion screen.


I have never tried this but I suppose it would be possible to run something like QBASIC through an emulator like DOSBox. DOSBox is available from the repository but he'd have to get his own copy of QBASIC on it once installed.

If someone has tried this feel free to edit this answer with more details.


You may also consider blassic. Find it at - http://blassic.org/

  • Not in the repositories (unless it's in 10.10), but there is a deb package.
    – Tim Lytle
    Oct 14, 2010 at 0:27

I Would reommend FreeBasic. There is versions for Linux and Windows. Only ARM version is still missing :(

I have used it in some large projects with no problems. The code is clean and there is a good forum for it: http://www.freebasic.net/

  • FYI-I have attempted FreeBasic on several versions of xubunta and none work. The installation instructions are VERY distro specific and require about 20 support pkgs. After installing these, it still does not work for me.
    – jwzumwalt
    Jul 5, 2020 at 8:18

You might try Liberty Basic or its sibling, Just Basic, running under Wine.

I have used Liberty Basic for years. It can be simple text-based or full GUI with graphics, sound, and sprites.

It runs well under wine in Linux (Ubuntu in my case).

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