As a college student, it’s important to be able to write down notes efficiently and find them quickly when needed. As a Linux user, you sadly won’t have access to official desktop clients for Evernote, OneNote, and Simplenote. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get stuff done, including writing notes.
Here are seven different applications you can use to write notes and increase your productivity. Do note that several popular note-taking services do have web versions available, but we’re going to assume that you know about them and will instead focus on alternative desktop applications you can use.
Xournal is a fantastic and capable tool to use for writing notes. Although it doesn’t have its own organization features (you can just save notes as files and organize them into folders), it does offer something most don’t: the ability to create hand-written notes.
Like on any operating system, the effectiveness of creating handwritten notes depends on whether you have a touchscreen or some pen input device, but it can prove to be extremely helpful if you can make full use of all its features. And yes, you can also just type notes on Xournal as well.
Tomboy is another fantastic note-taking application that I highly recommend. Although after some use it’ll remind you of sticky notes, it can also be used for longer notes if necessary. It’s very easy to organize notes and it includes one of my favorite features: links. Especially in school, you can have various notes correspond to various topics or chapters. Whenever a future note references previous content, you can just create a link to that earlier note so that when you study, you can click on the link and it’ll instantly pull up the relevant information. Links make it extremely easy to get the information you need.
There’s also a clone of Tomboy called Gnote which looks and behaves exactly the same, except that it is written in C++ rather than Mono, making it faster and more lightweight. Gnote does lag just a little bit behind Tomboy as it takes a bit of time for Gnote to replicate Tomboy’s newer features, but there have been very few new features introduced lately.
If you do still want an unofficial Simplenote client, take a look at nvPY. Quite honestly there’s not a whole lot to it, but it does let you access and edit your notes on the service. Once you install it, you’ll need to create a new file in your Home folder with the name “.nvpy.cfg” without the quotes but don’t forget that leading period. Inside it, paste the following:
sn_username = username_replace_me
sn_password = password_replace_me
Of course, you should switch out the temporary values with your actual username and password. That being said, if you don’t like having your Simplenote password stored in plaintext, then you’re out of luck. Or consider encrypting your Linux and/or home partition.
NixNote and GeekNote
Likewise, if you want an unofficial Evernote client, then check out NixNote. Formerly known as Nevernote, this application will let you access and manage all of your Evernote notes. The interface is very clunky, however, and therefore doesn’t provide a very great experience. That said, if you’d like to be able to access your notes locally rather than via the web interface, this is definitely an option.
Interestingly enough, there’s also an Evernote client available that’s accessible through the command line. GeekNote will let you create and edit notes on your Evernote account, which could be useful if you find yourself using the terminal quite a bit or would like to save snippets directly from the terminal.
RedNotebook is another interesting option that uses calendar navigation to go through notes. As such, this would be a good application to use for a diary, journal, or other time-sensitive purposes. It lets you add various formatting to your notes, perform live searches across all of them, and even export your notes to multiple formats.
Future Pick: Springseed
Springseed is interesting because it isn’t available yet, but shows quite some promise as a useful note-taking app. It’s well designed, follows a simple Notebook –> Notes organizational structure (definitely not unique, but it’s a good structure), and supports Markdown. There’s even support for making code blocks to make your notes look good and provide syntax highlighting. It appears as though Springseed will be available for Mac OS X and Ubuntu at some point in the future.
With these seven options for note-taking, you should be able to pick a few and get right to work. Just because official apps from popular services may not be available on Linux does not mean that you can’t create a workflow that’s perfect for you. If you are in fact in school and need an education-oriented distribution to help you out, check out our comparison of Edubuntu and UberStudent.
What’s your favorite note-taking application or service? Let us know in the comments!