Geany – A Great Lightweight Code Editor For Linux

Danny Stieben 21-04-2011

simple code editorSurprisingly, Linux doesn’t offer that many good IDE’s (Integrated Development Environments). I believe this is because back in the day most Linux programmers took out good old Notepad (or gedit in this case), and started coding from that.


However, I’m glad to know that there are now two really good IDEs out there, and Geany is one of them. Compared to Eclipse, the other good IDE, it’s much more lightweight but just as capable.

Basic Features

simple code editor linux

Geany supports all of the major programming languages, and offers all the common features that you expect for an IDE, such as syntax highlighting and line numbering. When you open it up (which doesn’t take very long at all), you’ll be greeted with a clean interface and lots of white space to work with. All of the compiler’s messages will appear in the box at the bottom of the window, which is extremely important for debugging your code. From here, you can open a new file and select the default file type for the language you want to program with. It loads the basic configuration for that file, and away you go.

code editor

Light Is Right

Aside from being lightweight, Geany does a great job of staying out of the way while you code, and displaying certain features right where you need them. Line numbers, syntax highlighting, automatically closing braces, parenthesis, and more, all do what they need to do, and don’t alter your personal workflow style. For a programmer, it’s very good to develop a coding habit you’re comfortable with and use a code editor that doesn’t force you to do things differently.



code editor linux

Just like Xournal in my earlier review Xournal - A Great Note-Taking Application For Linux There are many applications out there that try to make your life easier by letting you take useful notes that you can search and manipulate in a number of ways. Some of these programs do... Read More , Geany comes with plenty of options even though it’s lightweight. There’s many things you can configure, including some that I never knew could be configured. These options are an important part of Geany and its ability to stay out of your way and let you work the way you want to. It’s highly recommended that you at least look at the options that Geany offers so that you can configure them the way you want, and make Geany all the more pleasing.

Compiling Your Code

simple code editor

Compiling and running your code is very easy. Simply click one button to compile, and when that completes, click another button to run. What happens when you hit run depends on what you’ve programmed, but as an example, if you programmed a very basic program in Java and run it, the output will be displayed using your preferred terminal. Once the program runs to completion in the terminal, you just need to hit enter once to exit out. It keeps everything clean and simple, just like the rest of the program.



Geany is simply a great IDE for Linux, especially when Eclipse doesn’t appeal to your taste. However, even if Eclipse is alright in your opinion, you should still look at Geany for its ease of use and out-of-box, ready-to-use setup.

If you program on Linux, what IDE do you use? If you use Geany, how do you rate it and what other features do you think are important? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Neeraj
    December 30, 2017 at 2:23 pm

    I tested many editor and list goes like this
    1. sublime
    2. gedit
    3. Eclipse
    4. NetBeans
    5. Vim
    6. Emacs
    7. Atom
    8. BlueFish (Nice one for Web developers)
    9. VCode
    10. builder

    After working on this huge list. I used geany, I have used geany before as well but was not aware about geany plugins. But this time I checked the geany plugins as well and now its my favorite editor/IDE. Very Fast, lightweight and highly configurable. I just love geany.

    I would rate 9/10.

  2. Brian Forbes
    May 9, 2016 at 4:38 am

    I found this IDE and your article when starting developing in D. It's the best I've seen, very easy to get running and no internet search required to use basic features (lilke switching to dark theme, compiling and running).

  3. sal
    March 1, 2016 at 11:45 am

    Geany is great, the only editor that made me switch from nedit (finally!).

  4. Cerule
    January 3, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    I think there isn't so many IDEs because many linux programmers prefer Vim or Emacs insted.

  5. frodo wiz
    May 16, 2011 at 8:29 pm

    tried emacs and vim.. waste of time if you are new to them.. i want to write code  for  things other then the workings of a text editor.. geany seemed responsive and  the run and compile worked without fiddling/praying or writing a script to make it work.. to each his own.. linux=choice 

  6. Anonymous
    May 13, 2011 at 5:46 am

     I'm probably the only one here who uses KomodoEdit, but I like it's code completion and project management features.  But I mostly just do light shell scripts and HTML/CSS stuff, so it's not like I'd know the difference when it comes to giant projects...

  7. Burkay Genc
    April 30, 2011 at 4:37 am

    I use gedit (for everything simple), Eclipse (for Java and Blackberry development), Codeblocks (for C, C++), TexMaker (for Latex). I don't agree with you. There are numerous very nice IDEs in Linux. Even gedit alone does the job for many a programmer. Especially the latex plugin of gedit creates a class A latex IDE immediately. The thing with gedit is it requires a bit of tweaking and configuring before it becomes "your" IDE.

  8. chassum
    April 24, 2011 at 3:43 pm

    I've used Geany in Linux for 3+ years for scripting in Tcl, bash, and Ruby. Now my co-workers are using it on Windows, too.

  9. Egbert
    April 23, 2011 at 12:28 pm

    Geany is a very good IDE indeed. I was using AVRGCC with Programmers Notepad under Windows but when I changed over to Linux with Geany. Very nice to work with!.
    Egbert Jan (NL)

  10. Miggs
    April 22, 2011 at 6:48 am

    First off, there are plenty of good full-featured ide's in Linux. Codeblocks is awesome, so is Netbeans!

    I use Geany as a primary ( and only ) text editor. It's lighter, and much faster than Gedit, yet more featured. It's also an advantage since most of the text files I open are code stuff.

    Anyway, it's not very handing when working on big programming projects. But I still use it to write scripts or 'fast small' pieces of code.

    • Danny Stieben
      April 24, 2011 at 7:06 pm

      Hmmm, I guess there are more IDE's than I thought there was. Probably because I've never heard of them, like Codeblocks and Netbeans. I've heard of emacs, but personally I don't like it.

      • Miggs
        April 25, 2011 at 3:54 am

        Both Codeblocks and Netbeans are cross-platform. The first has a prominent user base and it's appreciated both in Linux and Windows world. Check them out!

  11. Anders Jackson
    April 22, 2011 at 3:42 am

    For light editing, I'm using Emacs and emacsclient. But then I have used Emacs since around 1990 or something :)

  12. Josh Fox
    April 21, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    I've been using Geany for quite a while, and it's one of my favorites for all-around coding. There are many IDEs available for Linux, but Geany stands out because of it being light weight with so many capabilities and features. Most of the other IDE options are large to install and resource hogs. That all depends on what you're needing to code though.

  13. Josh Gunderson
    April 21, 2011 at 7:50 pm

    MonoDevelop is nice if you wanna do C#, etc. on Linux.

    Geany is also available for Windows, including a portable version:

  14. Josh Gunderson
    April 21, 2011 at 5:50 pm

    MonoDevelop is nice if you wanna do C#, etc. on Linux.

    Geany is also available for Windows, including a portable version: