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Programming Software Linux

Comparison: Linux Text Editors 402

jrepin writes: Mayank Sharma of Linux Voices tests and compares five text editors for Linux, none of which are named Emacs or Vim. The contenders are Gedit, Kate, Sublime Text, UltraEdit, and jEdit. Why use a fancy text editor? Sharma says, "They can highlight syntax and auto-indent code just as effortlessly as they can spellcheck documents. You can use them to record macros and manage code snippets just as easily as you can copy/paste plain text. Some simple text editors even exceed their design goals thanks to plugins that infuse them with capabilities to rival text-centric apps from other genres. They can take on the duties of a source code editor and even an Integrated Development Environment."
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Comparison: Linux Text Editors

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  • by jeffb (2.718) ( 1189693 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:23PM (#47585455)

    It may not have been wise for me to spend years training vi into my muscle memory, but it's done now, and I'm not especially interested in giving up that advantage.

    • by Ken_g6 ( 775014 )

      I use GVim all the time. It can "highlight syntax and auto-indent code...spellcheck documents... [and] record macros". I don't see the point of managing code snippets - if you're using the same code multiple places you should take a DRY-er approach. And being an IDE is for Emacs people. ;P

      • There are many times where you repeat code and DRY does not apply. Common patterns that apply to different projects, but are mostly just grunt-work typing.

        snipMate for Vim adds a nice version of code snippets. For example, I type "#!" in python scripts to add "#!/usr/bin/env python". It's a small single saving, but things like that add up over numerous scripts, and help avoid typos.

    • That's why I use Sublime Text. It has a 'vi' mode that works very well. (Well, it does the most common functions, but if you're a grand-master vi wizard you'll easily find things it doesn't do.)

      That was the primary reason I allowed myself to try it. 'come for the 'vi' stay for everything else.' The good news is that it's a top-notch editor even without vi. The 'overview' slider on the right side is brilliant. There's a vibrant 'plugin community', and it's very customizable. Also it's multi-p

    • I've been a faithful vi user for 15 years. I couldn't imagine using anything else at this point. Heck, I named my firstborn Vi. Ok, no I didn't.
    • My students hated that I made them learn vi. Why? Because if the graphics subsystem failed, or they had to go to single user mode, they had vi.

      If they made it through my class alive, they could use whatever they wanted.

      • by jtara ( 133429 )

        If the graphics subsystem fails, or I have to go to single-user mode, I have nano.

        WordStar rules!

    • What the graphic editors miss is the advantage of being able to run in any environment, including lame ssh shell sessions... I think that's what really keeps vi and emacs going.

      Personally, I prefer jed, and yes, it's clunky and feature poor, but it's good enough to get the job done and I'm not devoting 12cc of brain volume to remember how to use it.

  • Pfft (Score:5, Insightful)

    by relisher ( 2955441 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:24PM (#47585457)
    You can do all of this in Emacs and Nano. No need for some shiny new text editor...
    • Re:Pfft (Score:5, Funny)

      by Stele ( 9443 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:30PM (#47585507) Homepage

      Okay okay I'll get off your lawn!

    • Re:Pfft (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TheGoodNamesWereGone ( 1844118 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:51PM (#47586111)
      Nano has gotten me out of a jam more times than I can count when I couldn't get X working. It's simple, easy to use, and works great.
      • Nano isn't bad, I like jed a little better - not quite as lame, and almost as universally available.

        If you're doing serious code composition, then, yes, use a well honed tool for the job that has helpful auto-complete, highlighting, etc. But if you're hacking through twisted network links - X usually isn't available and something lighter weight is a very good to be able to use.

        Personally, I only "hack the net" about 1% of the time, so I don't think it's worth using a text based editor as my primary tool, b

    • Re:Pfft (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:56PM (#47586137)

      Ya, I'm surprised by the summary. Apparently the author has not actually used emacs or vim, and instead listed the BARE MINIMUM set of features that any editor should support. Maybe the author came with a pre-existing bias against emacs and vi as "tools for old farts" and assumed any new tools must automatically be better.

  • by qw(name) ( 718245 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:24PM (#47585467) Journal

    none of which are named Emacs or Vim

    What's there to compare? Everything else is just Notepad.

    • by LocutusOfBorg1 ( 1549493 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:30PM (#47585509)
      Exactly! --- sent from emacs
    • by zAPPzAPP ( 1207370 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:37PM (#47585563)

      But Notepad(++) is pretty good...

    • by Arker ( 91948 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:36PM (#47585999) Homepage
      So they did a text-editor roundup that excluded every serious contender in favor of 5 third-string also-rans.

      I actually tried to read the text but it was too brain-numbingly stupid to get through. He's trumpeting all these wonderful features that... vi and emacs had in the 80s.

      It's so true - 'those who do not remember Unix are condemned to re-invent it, poorly.'
      • So they did a text-editor roundup that excluded every serious contender in favor of 5 third-string also-rans. I actually tried to read the text but it was too brain-numbingly stupid to get through. He's trumpeting all these wonderful features that... vi and emacs had in the 80s. It's so true - 'those who do not remember Unix are condemned to re-invent it, poorly.'

        Lennart Pottering needs to read the last line of this comment in particular!

    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )

      Ed, man! [gnu.org]

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:29PM (#47585499)

    I used to use gedit on Linux a lot a few years ago. I then used OS X for a few years, but I recently moved back to Linux. One of the first things I did after getting Linux installed was try to edit some files using gedit. And my first reaction was: JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, WHAT IN THE FUCKING HELL DID THEY DO TO GEDIT'S UI?!

    It used to have a good, traditional UI. There were useful menus and a toolbar, and it all worked very well. But now, JESUS FUCKING CHRIST, it looks stupid as all hell. There are no menus any longer, and the toolbar has been castrated into having like 4 buttons. The icons are pathetic, and don't indicate what the button actually does. Whoever the hell reworked the UI managed to break what was once a very usable text editor. Now it's rubbish.

    It's like they took the idiotic UI design of Chrome and brought it over to gedit. And now gedit is useless to me! So I've moved on to Kate. At least the KDE crew hasn't gone completely fucking stupid like the GNOME dipshits apparently have.

    Why the fuck did they have to ruin gedit's UI?

    • As someone who actually likes GNOME Shell, I have to agree. The new-style GNOME apps are horrible. Over simplified, too much white space.

      In particular the whole "move dialogue buttons to the window title bar" thing is jarring.

      I just use Shell and ignore as much of the rest of GNOME as I can.

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Buttons and menus confuse users.

      Or something.

      Did they ever fix the god-awful nonsense where Gedit refuses to open a file because it thinks it's some wacko Unicode crap and doesn't even give you an 'I don't freaking care, just open the goddamn file as ASCII' option?

  • Geany (Score:4, Informative)

    by lorinc ( 2470890 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:37PM (#47585567) Homepage Journal

    Where's geany? It's much better than gedit.

    • Re:Geany (Score:5, Informative)

      by sayfawa ( 1099071 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:06PM (#47585793)
      Agreed. Without geany there, this comparison is not very useful. Whenever I was using Linux, I missed notepad++, until I found out about geany.
    • Vote here for geany also...

      In my recent switch from Windows to Centos for my desktop/development computer I was missing an editor on par with notepad++. Found geany and I haven't looked back. Excellent all around.

  • by roc97007 ( 608802 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:41PM (#47585587) Journal

    Sorry if this is stating the obvious, but if you're a programmer who does lots of editing on a few machines, then pick the editor that best fits the job.

    However, as an admin, I have long ago standardized on VI for the simple reason that it's included by default on every single *nix variant out there. (At least, in my experience.)

    My cunning strategy breaks down with Windows, though. Notepad is so nasty to use that I find myself installing textpad or cygwin on the machines where I do most of my work.

    • You might find it useful to stick the portable version of ConTEXT on a USB drive:

      http://www.contexteditor.org/i... [contexteditor.org]

      It hasn't been developed for 6 years, but I still have it installed just for its ability to open text files of several hundred megabytes in seconds. It's great as a lightweight editor for Windows.

    • My cunning strategy breaks down with Windows, though. Notepad is so nasty to use that I find myself installing textpad or cygwin on the machines where I do most of my work.

      One option here is to run a portable [portableapps.com] editor -- emacs also works in this mode -- from a shared drive or usb stick. You can try them all and if you don't like any of them, just delete the directory -- no uninstallation, system files, or registry settings to worry about.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      However, as an admin, I have long ago standardized on VI for the simple reason that it's included by default on every single *nix variant out there. (At least, in my experience.)

      FWIW, vi(1) is actually part of the POSIX specification. So you're guaranteed at least the base level of functionality (which is generally all you need to tweak /etc/hosts, etc.).

      For heavier coding jobs something else can be useful, but for the basics: getting in, moving around, editing, and saving/quitting, are what you need to know. Anything after that is gravy.

    • However, as an admin, I have long ago standardized on VI for the simple reason that it's included by default on every single *nix variant out there. (At least, in my experience.)

      While true, in my experience there is no reason why nano could not be included (and should be).

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:55PM (#47586135)

      You essentially are required to install cygwin on all windows computers before they become marginally useful.

      • You essentially are required to install cygwin on all windows computers before they become marginally useful.

        You have a point. I wrote a menu system in Windows Shell once, just for the experience. Had a headache for days afterwards. That is one twisted language. I've heard about powershell, but never bothered with it. If you're going to do any reasonable amount of scripting, cygwin is invaluable.

        • Not just scripting, but I can't imagine how to do any development work without grep or find. I even pull open the shell to do basic stuff when I use windows for games (ie, finding and editing the config files).

      • Until Win8.1, it was actually possible to install a "native" POSIX environment on NT-family OSes (which for most people means XP and anything since then). It had better performance and was more Unix-y than Cygwin - key differences include support for things like SetUID/SetGID/Sticky bits and case-sensitive file system (required NTFS, and could occasionally confuse Win32 programs if there were two files whose name differed only in case, but it worked), though there were others (like not tacking .EXE on the end of every program name). It was called SUA (Subsystem for Unix Application), and was quite useful for those who needed to run Windows software but wanted a bash shell and compatibility with scripts and software written for *nix (it had a complete GCC-based build toolchain, though you could also use MSVC, and was source-compatible with most portable *nix code).

        It's still available, including the "tools and utilities" download that gives you basic shells and the like, but when MS released Win8.1 - which doesn't allow the POSIX subsystem - they also stopped funding the forums and package repo, so even if you can find the package files they're all getting more and more outdated.

  • by kuzb ( 724081 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:44PM (#47585611)

    ( obligatory, credit to: https://www.gnu.org/fun/jokes/... [gnu.org] )

    When I log into my Xenix system with my 110 baud teletype, both vi and Emacs are just too damn slow. They print useless messages like, ‘C-h for help’ and ‘“foo” File is read only’. So I use the editor that doesn't waste my VALUABLE time.

    Ed, man! !man ed

    ED(1) Unix Programmer's Manual ED(1)

              ed - text editor

              ed [ - ] [ -x ] [ name ]
              Ed is the standard text editor.

    Computer Scientists love ed, not just because it comes first alphabetically, but because it's the standard. Everyone else loves ed because it's ED!

    “Ed is the standard text editor.”

    And ed doesn't waste space on my Timex Sinclair. Just look:

    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 24 Oct 29 1929 /bin/ed
    -rwxr-xr-t 4 root 1310720 Jan 1 1970 /usr/ucb/vi
    -rwxr-xr-x 1 root 5.89824e37 Oct 22 1990 /usr/bin/emacs
    Of course, on the system I administrate, vi is symlinked to ed. Emacs has been replaced by a shell script which 1) Generates a syslog message at level LOG_EMERG; 2) reduces the user's disk quota by 100K; and 3) RUNS ED!!!!!!

    “Ed is the standard text editor.”

    Let's look at a typical novice's session with the mighty ed:

    golem$ ed

    eat flaming death

    Note the consistent user interface and error reportage. Ed is generous enough to flag errors, yet prudent enough not to overwhelm the novice with verbosity.

    “Ed is the standard text editor.”

    Ed, the greatest WYGIWYG editor of all.


    When I use an editor, I don't want eight extra KILOBYTES of worthless help screens and cursor positioning code! I just want an EDitor!! Not a “viitor”. Not a “emacsitor”. Those aren't even WORDS!!!! ED! ED! ED IS THE STANDARD!!!


    When IBM, in its ever-present omnipotence, needed to base their “edlin” on a Unix standard, did they mimic vi? No. Emacs? Surely you jest. They chose the most karmic editor of all. The standard.

    Ed is for those who can remember what they are working on. If you are an idiot, you should use Emacs. If you are an Emacs, you should not be vi. If you use ED, you are on THE PATH TO REDEMPTION. THE SO-CALLED “VISUAL” EDITORS HAVE BEEN PLACED HERE BY ED TO TEMPT THE FAITHLESS. DO NOT GIVE IN!!! THE MIGHTY ED HAS SPOKEN!!!

    • Ha ha, but seriously all Programmers should know some basic ed.

    • lol! and how the hell is this flamebait?

  • by msauve ( 701917 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @06:44PM (#47585619)
    Don't all of these text editors require a GUI? I prefer something which can work with a serial/telnet/(basic ssh) console, without all the unnecessary overhead of a GUI. I like joe (which can reasonably emulate emacs/pico, if you want), but can deal with vi if I have to.
  • i would like some text editors reviews as well, like nano, joe and others

    • My personal favorite is 'le' simply because its the only one I've found that doesn't obsess over whitespace. It isn't that way by default, you have to configure it from its 'exact' mode which is like most editors into 'text' mode, but at least it has the option unlike most editors. When in 'text' mode, when you push the right arrow while at the end of a line, the cursor just continues to go to the right, and doesn't do anything retarded like go down to the beginning of the next line.

      Honestly, why nearly e

      • by msauve ( 701917 )



  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:01PM (#47585745)


    Even if you don't personally engage in editor wars, it's pretty funny. I'm afraid that the number of Slashdot articles best answered by an XKCD cartoon has remained surprisingly consistent.

    Given that most of the tools in the mentioned article require a GUI to work from, and many of them are destabilized by their use of Java, I'm afraid that the article will remain aimed at GUI and web developers, not "real programmers". We who do real systems recovery or kernel level code development will continue to use "vi" for small tasks, "emacs" when we need full integration with source control systems or more powerful indentation..

  • I'm generally using BBedit from my Mac. SFTP is my friend.

    Besides, who wants all the extra kruft that goes along with Gedit or Kate on a server? In that case it's not the editor I'm objecting to - it's the 100 other required packages that go along with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:04PM (#47585781)

    Yeah, right, dat steep learning curve. I've wasted years using UltraEdit, because I was told that vim was too hard. One friday afternoon I fired up vimtutor, and it took me the following weekend to learn vim enough to do my work as good as with UltraEdit. From that moment on, I've spent years honing my vim skills, following a very slow but rewarding learning curve.

    I've been editing (plain)text for living for the last 15 years, and I doubt I'd ever get as dedicated, thorough and precise in my work without vim. All those self-proclaimed no-learning-curve, get-the-job-done editors are inferior, and one should use them only if they actually need to do some ad-hoc work, which they actually don't even want to do.

    Pick a proper tool for your job, not a toy.

    • In school we were given a one page sheet with vi cheat notes the very first day class started, and that was all the instruction we had, and we started using it that first day. No one had a mouse yet so no one could complain about the lack of point-and-click editing and so it was naturally assumed there would be some learning involved.

      Vim makes it so much easier now as it actually comes with help built in.

  • I still use nedit [nedit.org], thought it hasn't had any decent upgrade in years. Nonmodal (modal is why I don't like vi/vim), simple, easy to hack regex based syntax highlighting (though that can be tripped up sometimes - I'm looking at you Perl), simple enough to get out of your way (I'm looking at you emacs), and fast with no lag (I'm looking at you jEdit).

  • Mayank Sharma of Linux Voices tests and compares five text editors for Linux, none of which are named Emacs or Vim.

    Real men don their asbestos suit and compare the most useful and popular text editors as well. What's next, are we replacing car analogies with analogies to tunnel boring machines (so that we can compare something no one knows to something else no one knows)?

  • by magi ( 91730 )

    Where's Jed? Why isn't anyone mentioning Jed? It's got Emacs bindings, it's really light-weight, works on command-line, and is available by a simple apt-get.

  • by rossz ( 67331 ) <ogre@noSpAm.geekbiker.net> on Friday August 01, 2014 @07:58PM (#47586149) Homepage Journal

    I have a few text files on my Windows box with :wq scattered around in random locations.

  • Seems like they knocked it because of the Java and it wasn't Fedora/RPM friendly. But I've been through all of these and the plugin capabilities put jEdit on top IMO. With a little customization, it easier becomes the most powerful of the lot. The other editors are just Notepad clones by comparison.

  • As a kid I grew up on Wordstar (running on CP/M, on an Osborne 1) and as such joe (http://joe-editor.sourceforge.net/), which is more or less a command-compatible workalike to Wordstar, suits me perfectly. While it is still available and updated reasonably regularly, it is getting harder to find / install easily for modern *nix systems. I love joe, though, I don't even have to think to use it.

    • Or taken a lot longer to sort it out and then move on to FreeBSD.

      Joe seems very intuitive to me and has just enough power as a text editor to give you free range of config files and basic scripting or even a couple hundred lines of Perl. I've always found vi impossible; the command/editing modes never made sense yet Joe seemed to work "like normal."

      I made an honest effort to master emacs, but it always seemed like effort and I always went back to Joe when I needed to get something done.

      I actually went trol

  • Vim, GCC and GDB, the best software development system on the market.
  • pff no one mentions teh grand daddy - TECO
    where line noise is an executable!

  • So, - here's the bottom line. Almost nobody here agrees with the OP premise :-)

  • by nuggz ( 69912 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @09:55PM (#47586697) Homepage

    Personally I use vim and emacs, they can do everything those editors can, and much more.
    Once you get over the learning curve, which I did, there is no reason to try the less capable editors.

  • by russotto ( 537200 ) on Friday August 01, 2014 @10:29PM (#47586881) Journal

    There is emacs. There is vi, for when some fool didn't install emacs. There is ex, for when the terminal is messed up. And there is ed, because it is the standard text editor.

    Anything else is either redundant, or is a word processor with a text-only output.

  • by Art3x ( 973401 ) on Saturday August 02, 2014 @01:27AM (#47587433)

    Okay, y'all can stop mentioning how vi and emacs do everything these do plus come preinstalled on Linux systems. From the article:

    Two of most popular and powerful plain text editors are Emacs and Vim. However, we didn’t include them in this group test for a couple of reasons. Firstly, if you are using either, congratulations: you don’t need to switch. Secondly, both of these have a steep learning curve, especially to the GUI-oriented desktop generation who have access to alternatives that are much more inviting.

    This is for people moving to a text editor from Word.

Evolution is a million line computer program falling into place by accident.