5 Linux Text Editors You Should Know About

As some of us already know, one of the greatest things about Linux is that there can be a variety of different ways to do one particular thing, resulting in the same outcome no matter how it is done. The open source mentality of Linux allows application developers free reign when it comes to developing software for the Linux operating system. As a result, you are likely to find hundreds of the same functioning applications that usually offer slight differences to others. This article covers 5 Linux text editors that everyone should know about, and a brief description of each.
Note: This article does not include GUI text editors.

  1. Vim
    • Vim is an improved version of the original text editor Vi. Many people throughout the Linux community consider Vim to be the “programmer’s editor”. I will admit, Vim is not easy to use if you have never used Vi or Vim before but once you learn the many features and tools incorporated into the editor, it can be very powerful.
  2. Pico
    • Pico (PIne COmposer) is a simple to use text editor that is included in the pine e-mailer. Pico is great for quick edits and easy to understand. One drawback of Pico is that you are not able to download it as a sole entitiy. Thus, you would have to install Pine if you wanted to use Pico. For a very similar text editor, check out nano.
  3. Emacs
    • Emacs is the extensible, customizable, self-documenting real-time display editor. What makes Emacs so user friendly is that is it well documented and supports many languages. Emacs also includes many extensions which allow you further enhance the text editor.
  4. Elvis
    • Elvis is a vi/ex clone that has additional features not found in vi/ex. Elvis includes syntax highlighting, networking support, and a GUI front end is available on some operating systems.
  5. JOE

    • JOE (Joe’s Own Editor) is a full featured terminal-based screen editor. JOE is a blending of MicroPro’s venerable microcomputer word processor WordStar and Emacs (but it does not use code from either program).


Now that we have covered five of the most popular text editors available on the Linux (and for some, Windows) platform, it is important to understand that there is no right or wrong choice when picking out a Linux text editor. The choice you make should factor in your ability to function within that editor, ease of use, desired functionality and overall ‘feel’, amongst other things.

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