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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 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.
To get a sense of what it can do, see our Sublime Text productivity tips. The only downside? It costs $80, though you can use it for free indefinitely if you can mind the occasional nag popup.
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 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.
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.
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. 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) 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. Wondering whether Nano will suffice? See our comparison of Vim vs. Nano. 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!