7 Best Linux Text Editors and Gedit Alternatives

Joel Lee 26-09-2017

In July 2017, the default text editor for Ubuntu (and most other Linux distros) was marked as “no longer being maintained.” As of this post, two new developers have offered to help, but it’s unclear what the future of Gedit holds.


Fortunately, there are many excellent alternatives available.

If you’ve been using Gedit for all these years, you should really consider switching to one of the text editors in this list. They’re far more powerful and will make you twice, even thrice, as productive as before.

1. Visual Studio Code

Download: Visual Studio Code (Free)

Not to be confused with Visual Studio proper, Visual Studio Code is a powerful open-source text editor that runs natively on Linux. Its built-in Intellisense (contextual code completion) blows all other text editors out of the water.

It also has built-in Git integration and a debugging feature that lets you run your source code with break points, call stacks, and an interactive console. But it’s not an IDE! It has the speed and interface of a regular text editor, and that’s why so many users are switching to it.


And the cherry on top? All kinds of productivity-enhancing features and shortcuts 10 Essential Productivity Tips for Visual Studio Code Visual Studio Code blows other programming text editors out of the water. It's free, open source, lightning fast, and packed with productivity features. Read More that’ll have you coding, scripting, or just taking notes in record time. New functionality can be added through third-party extensions.

2. Sublime Text

Download: Sublime Text ($80, indefinite free trial)

Sublime Text revolutionized the text editor landscape. It took everything that was excellent in the Mac-only TextMate, added a bunch of extra goodies, and made those features available across multiple platforms. It was so good that it inspired the creation of half the text editors in this post.

Unlike other modern text editors, Sublime Text is written in C++ instead of JavaScript (like Visual Studio Code, Atom, and Brackets are), which gives it a huge performance advantage. It’s the fastest, most responsive text editor I’ve ever used, making it great for less-powerful machines.


To get a sense of what it can do, see our Sublime Text productivity tips 11 Sublime Text Tips for Productivity and a Faster Workflow Sublime Text is a versatile text editor and a gold standard for many programmers. Our tips focus on efficient coding, but general users will appreciate the keyboard shortcuts. Read More . The only downside? It costs $80, though you can use it for free indefinitely if you can mind the occasional nag popup.

3. Atom

Download: Atom (Free)

Atom is an open-source text editor developed by GitHub, the most popular source code host in the world. It’s the best choice for open source enthusiasts What Is Open Source Software? [MakeUseOf Explains] "Open source" is a term that’s thrown around a lot these days. You may know that certain things are open source, like Linux and Android, but do you know what it entails? What is open... Read More because GitHub is arguably the largest force for open source development.

Nearly every aspect of Atom is customizable, hence why it calls itself the “hackable” text editor. It shares a lot of the same built-in productivity features as its inspiration, Sublime Text, and can be improved with extensions.


Yet while Atom is certainly good enough for most, you may run into performance issues with large source files and projects: slow search, choppy scrolling, long load times, etc. Visual Studio Code is better in this regard, but plenty of users still prefer Atom for its open source ideology and commitment.

4. Brackets

Download: Brackets (Free)

Funny enough, Brackets released in the same year as Atom — about one year after Sublime Text’s version 2 debut (which came five years after version 1). You can see the inspiration in the editor design, but Brackets isn’t a clone.

Whereas Visual Studio Code, Sublime Text, and Atom all try to be “the one true text editor” for all kinds of programmers and scripters, Brackets specifically focuses on web development. That makes sense when you realize Brackets is maintained by Adobe, who also maintains Dreamweaver and Photoshop.


Brackets has some cool features, like Live Preview and Quick Edit, and it can be improved through extensions. It’s also an open source project, another point in favor. But Brackets is abysmally slow, and that can be hard to get over.

5. Geany

7 Best Linux Text Editors and Gedit Alternatives linux text editor geany

Download: Geany (Free)

Geany is a fast and lightweight text editor based on the GTK+ toolkit, so it will feel right at home if you’re on the GNOME desktop GNOME Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Popular Desktops You're interested in Linux, and you've come across "GNOME", an acronym for GNU Network Object Model Environment. GNOME is one of the most popular open source interfaces, but what does that mean? Read More . And truth be told, Geany is an excellent app. It was my text editor of choice through the early 2010s.

It’s still good today, but just happens to be overshadowed by monsters like Visual Studio Code and Sublime Text.

Expect all the basic features: syntax highlighting, auto-completion, wide support for languages, and the ability to build, compile, and execute code. Geany also has a plugin system, though nowhere near as easy or comprehensive as extensions for newer text editors.

6. Light Table

Download: Light Table (Free)

Light Table sounds more like a photography app than a text editor, but don’t let that fool you. It’s a powerful text editor (some might even say it’s an IDE Text Editors vs. IDEs: Which One Is Better For Programmers? Choosing between an advanced IDE and a simpler text editor can be hard. We offer some insight to help you make that decision. Read More ) that’s been around for a while — even longer than Atom and Brackets!

It allows a great deal of customization, both through keybinds and extensions. Light Table also has a number of crucial debugging functions, like real-time variable tracking and inline evaluation, plus features for rapid development.

Development has slowed down since 2016, but it’s certainly usable as is. Light Table is a strong option if you dislike the other editors in this list.

7. Vim, Emacs, or Nano

Depending on who you ask, standalone GUI text editors are for wimps! If you want to be a “real” programmer or tech geek, you should write code straight in the terminal using Vim, Emacs, or Nano.

Be warned: these editors are NOT for the faint of heart!

Vim is the most powerful but also the hardest to wrap your head around. Emacs has a shallower learning curve and is still full-featured but not as powerful as Vim. Nano is the worst of the three yet also the easiest to learn. If you’ve never used any of them, you might as well go with Vim.

Why put yourself through this? See our reasons to give Vim a chance The Top 7 Reasons To Give The Vim Text Editor A Chance For years, I've tried one text editor after another. You name it, I tried it. I used each and every one of these editors for over two months as my primary day-to-day editor. Somehow, I... Read More . Wondering whether Nano will suffice? See our comparison of Vim vs. Nano nano vs. Vim: The Best Terminal Text Editors, Compared Looking for a terminal text editor for Linux? The main choice is between Vim and nano! Here's how they compare. Read More . Vim may take a few months to learn, but it will be worth it.

Which Text Editor Do You Use?

Though Gedit has an uncertain future ahead of it, here’s the good news: you have no lack of choices if it does go under. We’ve living in the golden age of text editors, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

Are you going to stick with Gedit and hope for the best? Or will you jump ship for one of the above alternatives? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Linux, Text Editor.

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

Whatsapp Pinterest

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. fionnbharr O'cathain
    August 13, 2019 at 3:04 pm

    ed is the standard text editor.

  2. Ted Feuerbach
    November 21, 2018 at 2:34 am

    I use JEdit. Two essential functions in a text editor is the ability to cut and past blocks of data/text side by side. The other is a good way to edit macro files. With JEdit, you can record a macro and then edit it later as a program file to add functionality.

    While some text editors can also do this, I have found that JEdit is really good at it.

  3. OHE
    November 27, 2017 at 12:22 pm

    Guys, there are so much wrong statements in the last section about CLI editors.

    Nano IS great when it suits the job.

    And you cannot simple compare Vim vs Emacs like this, go read Wikipedia first then come and write an article, or if you are a reader also go read Wikipedia about the two editors and about the comparison, then make a choice.
    My advice, if you have time, try both

  4. Ve
    October 28, 2017 at 6:09 pm

    You forget to mention Micro written in Go :)

  5. jymm
    October 3, 2017 at 10:36 am

    I use Mate, (Ubuntu and Debian) so Pluma is my default text editor.

    • jbg
      October 18, 2017 at 9:10 am

      Pluma is my default too, on Gnome.

  6. smit
    October 2, 2017 at 11:22 am

    Just Vi. It'll never die. It's Immortal.

  7. G
    September 30, 2017 at 1:31 am

    ' Emacs has a shallower learning curve and is still full-featured but not as powerful as Vim'
    I am a vi(m) user for 20+ years, and not a huge fan of Emac, but this statement is wrong on so many levels. Emacs IS different from vim, but stating it is 'not as powerful' is extremely hand-wavy. In fact one of the reasons I chose vim over emacs is - there's SO much to customize in Emacs it becomes a chore :) You can do pretty much anything - it's all emacs Lisp.

  8. matteo
    September 29, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    After using different types of IDE, the best for me (that write both C, javascript and HTML) is qtCreator. You can create Plain C project, modify web code etc... and It is really light instead of the huges eclipse alternatives

  9. Pramod
    September 28, 2017 at 7:28 am

    VS code is the best one with a lot of features in my opinion, Atom is some what slow.

  10. PabloZ
    September 26, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    Geany user here!! I find it very lightweight and powerful for my scripting tasks.

  11. Tom H
    September 26, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    I use SCITE and Bluefish. Geany is also a good choice. I will look into VS Code for Linux as I do use it in Windows for some tasks.

  12. dragonmouth
    September 26, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    Using Vim is like banging your head against the wall. It feels soooo good when you stop. :-)

    I have used many text editors over the years and Vim is the most unintuitive and primitive feeling of them all. It feels like something out of the 1960s. Vim may be powerful but so is Assembler but you don't see too many people recommending Assembler.

    • G
      September 30, 2017 at 1:36 am

      vi is out of 1970s :) 1976. It was designed to be the (only) full-screen editor to be usable on extremely slow dialup lines. It is also part of POSIX standard, which means you will find it on pretty much any unix-like system you might come across. It does have a learning curve, but there's no way back once you get used to it.
      Unintuitive in your case probably means unfamiliar. I.e. I am suffering every time I have to use a modeless editor. There's a good reason why most editors listed above have 'vi-compatibility plugin'.