Stay Organized & Remember Everything With Tomboy Notes [Linux]

Danny Stieben 03-11-2012

linux notesIf the title made you think of Evernote, I don’t blame you. It’s a great tool which is capable of a lot, plus it syncs with whatever devices it can run on. However, Evernote is still a proprietary tool, and some Linux users may not wish to use it simply because of this reason. It’s also possible that they don’t want all of their notes stored on a different server, where they don’t own their data.


Linux users who are in this predicament will preferably need a native tool which stores all notes locally, all while being very functional and flexible.

About Tomboy Notes

Tomboy Notes is a native Linux application which uses the Mono framework which allows you to take notes and keep track of them. It includes some very useful features which give it a “wiki” style, as well as other usual tools which help you distinguish between different types of information within a note. For those who are concerned about the Mono framework and the possible patent infringements hovering around it, one may also take a look at using Gnote. It’s identical in look and functionality, as it is merely a C++ port of Tomboy Notes.

While Gnote doesn’t depend on Mono, it does lag slightly behind Tomboy as it ports new features after they are released with Tomboy.


linux notes

When you first start with Tomboy, you’ll be presented with the main screen – which contains a list of some sample notes – as well as an open note, titled “Start Here“. This special note welcomes you to Tomboy and introduces to you some of the important unique features in the program – links. These aren’t just any regular old website links – they’re links between different notes. Each time you type out the name of a note while writing in another, the entire name automatically turns into a link. Clicking on this link will open up the note with the same title.


Another neat trick – say you have a note called “School Homework“. You have a link to “School Homework” in a number of other notes. If you suddenly change the title of  “School Homework” to something else such as “Unfinished Homework”, all of the links in the other notes will change names as well.

Writing Notes

tomboy notes

While writing notes, you can do whatever your heart desires to organize the information. You can make lists with bullets, highlight certain words or phrases, underline/italicize/bold parts of the note, make them larger or smaller, create new notes by using the wiki-style “ThisIsANote” (when the correct preference is enabled), find items within a note, and much more. Printing a note and exporting it to HTML is available as well.

You can also create notebooks and assign notes to them. These are similar to categories, and make it easier to find notes that have to do with a particular subject.



linux notes

There’s a wealth of information which can be changed in the preferences. For example, you can enable/disable spell check, automatically create lists with bullets, edit the new note template, use a custom font, customize hotkeys, enable synchronization with your favorite location in case you do actually like such functionality (including Ubuntu One Ubuntu One: An Unknown But Worthy Contender In Cloud Storage Just a little over a week ago, a lot of news was made in the world of personal cloud storage, where Dropbox added more sharing features, SkyDrive introduced their new synchronization application for desktops, and... Read More if you’re using Ubuntu), and enable add-ins which can add extra functionality such as automatic daily notes of which you can change the template as well.


To install the application, simply search through your favorite package manager for tomboy or gnote, whichever you’d prefer the most. Ubuntu users can also install the program using sudo apt-get install tomboy, while Fedora users can issue the command sudo yum install tomboy. For installation of Gnote, simply replace “tomboy” with “gnote”.


This application is great for my rather busy life, as I’m balancing social life, work, and college classes all at the same time. Tomboy is great at working with me, and doesn’t get in the way. It’s a highly recommendable way to stay organized using just one simple application. If you need to keep notes or have a place to keep track of what still needs to be accomplished, give Tomboy a try!


What’s your favorite note-taking application? What’s your most favorite feature and why is it important to you? Let us know in the comments!

Related topics: Note-Taking Apps, Organization Software.

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  1. Mike H
    October 14, 2016 at 12:56 am

    Any chance of porting the windows ap Anytime? Or possibly finding a person to help me setup to use with Wine? I have been using it for 15+ years and have hundreds of thousands of entries.

  2. nemocorp
    November 8, 2012 at 5:45 am

    After investing many note taking program, and because i don't want my notes stored remotely on a proprietary server, my preference goes to zim, self defined as a wiki for the desktop. Very easy to use, great plugins, organize everything...

    • Danny Stieben
      November 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm

      Thanks for mentioning zim! I'll check it out!

  3. Josh
    November 7, 2012 at 2:57 pm

    Another good note-taking app is NoteCase. The current free version of Notecase (free as in BSD-Licensed) is stuck at 1.9.8, circa 2008, because the author moved in the proprietary direction after that version. However, 1.9.8 is great because it's very lean but provides just the right amount of functionality. You can attach files to notes, arrange them in a heirarchical structure and link between notes, save the notes securely (encrypted - and there's also an option to unload encrypted notes after a period of inactivity). I use this daily under Linux and Windows, and there's also a version for Mac OSX.

    • Danny Stieben
      November 15, 2012 at 9:49 pm

      Thanks a lot for the tip, Josh!

  4. Chaos Emperor
    November 6, 2012 at 5:41 am

    i love linux more than windows and mac

  5. juan david gil
    November 5, 2012 at 6:51 pm

    tho i can be good i still wanna see something in the lines of the " onenote of linux" wonder if the libreoffice folks have one in mind....

  6. Rdo. Neto
    November 5, 2012 at 6:09 pm

    I've been using this tool for a couple years and for what I want.. it meets my needs.

  7. Alex Downs
    November 5, 2012 at 2:41 am

    I've used this pbefore I like it, it's a good alternative, I do recal lone that was better, but it's slipped my mind -.-

  8. Jacob Twitchel
    November 5, 2012 at 1:06 am

    I used to use this all the time during class to take notes or type up simple assignments quickly. When I first started using it I realized that it had way more features then I expected it to have.

    • Danny Stieben
      November 15, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      It does get surprisingly useful, especially with things like Note of the Day.

  9. Lisa Santika Onggrid
    November 4, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    The linking feature is a killer one. I love WikionAStick but it lacks automatic linking.
    Then again, Tomboy doesn't work under Windows, while I need cross-platform solution.

  10. Ahmed Khalil
    November 4, 2012 at 2:03 pm

    rarely we can find article about LINUX application, thanks and hope to see more

  11. Raghav Gupta
    November 4, 2012 at 11:23 am

    O I will check this. Thanks for sharing

  12. Boni Oloff
    November 4, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Wow, more Linux related article.. You guys really multi-platform expert in MOU.

  13. Jeffrey Herr
    November 3, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    Sorry, but I have to say you way overstepped on the comparison here. Comparing the features of TomboyNotes to Evernote is like comparing a sugar cookie to a buffet of top-notch desserts.

    I'm an avid Evernote user and have evangelized many to using this product. You failed to mention that Tomboy is lacking Evernote features like:
    Filter by note geolocation
    PDF text indexing
    Email in new notes
    Pick up files from the file system
    Store and use files as if Evernote was a file store
    Paste to new note
    Screen clip to new note
    And much more...

    TomboyNotes takes notes, so I suppose it's vaguely similar...

    • Danijel Cukari?
      November 4, 2012 at 12:25 am

      well i don't really see comparison with evernote in text
      now read again :
      "If the title made you think of Evernote, I don’t blame you. It’s a great tool which is capable of a lot, plus it syncs with whatever devices it can run on. However, Evernote is still a proprietary tool, and some Linux users may not wish to use it simply because of this reason."


    • Arron Walker
      November 4, 2012 at 8:36 am

      As Danijel mentioned, it's proprietary. The majority of people who use Linux are die hard users, who will only use closed source when it's completely unavoidable. If there's an alternative, they will use it. And as it's open source, these features can be added in by anyone. And at some point, they probably will be. Some of those are kind of redundant though, file store? Why not use a dedicated one, like Dropbox or Skydrive?

      • Jeffrey Herr
        November 4, 2012 at 2:57 pm

        The point I was making is that it's not really choosing between open source and proprietary. I wasn't starting a religious war, but factually stating feature disparity.
        If one hates proprietary software, don't use Evernote. But understand all the features you'd be giving up.
        Incidentally, last I checked, Dropbox and SkyDrive are also proprietary.
        I suppose the summary is this... You can work to put together a set of multiple tools and solutions that equal Evernote, or you can just use Evernote.

        • Arron Walker
          November 4, 2012 at 6:58 pm

          Fair enough - I'm personally not bothered by open or closed source. Though when looking for open source file sync, ownCloud sounded interesting.

          "You can work to put together a set of multiple tools and solutions that equal Evernote, or you can just use Evernote." - Not really.

        • Danijel Cukari?
          November 5, 2012 at 2:30 am

          The disparity in this case doesn't matter, the article does not compare the two things at all. The article simply explains possibilities of tomboynotes. I don't see reason of a discussion about evernote.

        • Danny Stieben
          November 15, 2012 at 9:47 pm

          Hi Jeffrey,

          Like Danijel mentioned, I wasn't trying to make a comparison. If at most, I was only mentioning that Tomboy is an alternative to Evernote for different reasons. I didn't try to compare it with Evernote or mention that it's superior. Just something else that may fit some people's needs better.

          Thanks for pointing out some unique Evernote features, however! :)