The 7 Best Linux Text Editors and Gedit Alternatives

Gedit, the default text editor for Ubuntu and the GNOME desktop environment, is a nifty little app that is quite useful indeed. However, it is not the only text editor available to Linux users.


If you’ve been using Gedit for all these years and want a text editor that better suits your needs, you should really consider switching to one of the other Linux editing apps. They are much more powerful and will make you twice, even thrice as productive as before.

So let’s take a look at some of the best Linux text editors that are great Gedit alternatives.


1. Visual Studio Code

Not to be confused with Visual Studio itself, Visual Studio Code is a powerful open-source text editor that runs natively on Linux. The 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 breakpoints, call stacks, and an interactive console. But it’s not an IDE! It has the speed and interface of a regular text editor, which is why so many users switch to it.

And the icing on the cake? A variety of productivity-boosting features and shortcuts that let you code, script, or just annotate in record time. You can also add new functionality through third-party extensions.

to download: Visual Studio Code (Free)

2. Sublime text

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

Unlike other modern text editors, Sublime Text is written in C++, rather than JavaScript (as Visual Studio Code, Atom, and Brackets are), which gives it a huge performance advantage. It’s one of the fastest, most responsive text editors you’ll ever use, making it ideal for less powerful machines.

To learn more about the app, see our guide on installing and setting up Sublime Text. The only disadvantage? It costs $99, but you can use it for free indefinitely if you can mind the occasional nagging popup.

to download: Sublime text ($99, free trial available)

3. Atom

Atom is an open-source text editor developed by GitHub, the most popular source code host in the world. It is the best choice for open source enthusiasts, as GitHub is arguably the single greatest force for open source development. Check out this list if you’re specifically looking for open source writing software.

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

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

to download: Atom (Free)

4. Brackets

Funnily enough, Brackets was released the same year as Atom – about a year after Sublime Text debuted in version 2 (which came five years after version 1). You can see the inspiration in the editor’s design, but Brackets is not a clone.

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

Brackets has some cool features like Live Preview and Quick Edit and can be enhanced through extensions. It’s also an open source project, another plus. But Brackets is terribly slow, and that can be hard to get over.

to download: braces (Free)

5. Geany

Geany is a fast and lightweight text editor based on the GTK+ toolkit, so it will feel right at home sitting on the GNOME desktop. And the truth is that Geany is an excellent app. It was a favorite text editor for many in early 2010.

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

Expect all the basics: syntax highlighting, auto-completion, broad support for languages, and the ability to build, compile, and run code. Geany also has a plugin system, although not nearly as simple or comprehensive as extensions for newer text editors.

to download: Geany (Free)

6. Typography

Typora is a paid Markdown text editor available for Linux, Windows, and macOS. It focuses on providing a distraction-free environment to let you write with maximum concentration without bothering you with too many settings or options to tinker with.

Writing in Typora is a lot like writing on a blank sheet of paper because the interface is so clean and minimal with no header. The app eliminates the elements that can distract your attention from writing, keeping you focused.

Speaking of focus, Typora even has a focus mode and a typewriter mode that give you a very distraction-free workspace for writing. You can also install custom themes to personalize the app. It offers a 15-day free trial after which you can buy it for $14.99.

to download: typora ($14.99)

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 have to write code directly 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 most difficult to turn your head around. Emacs has a shallower learning curve and is still fully featured, but not as powerful as Vim. Nano is the worst of the three, but also the easiest to learn. If you’ve never used one before, you might as well go for Vim.

Why do this to yourself? See our guide on how to use Vim. Wondering if Nano will be enough? See our comparison of Vim vs. Nano. Vim may take a few months to learn, but it will be worth it.

Which Gedit Alternative Should You Use?

While Gedit can be a useful tool for basic text editing, you won’t be short of choices as there are great alternatives available. We live in the golden age of text editors, and you really can’t go wrong with any of them.

If you’re looking for distraction-free text editors, check out this list of apps that will improve your focus and concentration while writing.

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