Best text editor for Linux

There are many different text editor choices for a Linux system. Your choice of which text editor to use will depend on the type of work you plan on doing. For example, writing basic documents vs. coding websites or programs. Whatever your case, there are a lot of nice text editors available.

In this tutorial, we have compiled a list of our favorite text editors for Linux. We have included both GUI text editors and command line editors. In some cases, you may want one of each. This will help you decide which one is the best for you and your situation.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • Best text editor for Linux
Best text editor for Linux
Best text editor for Linux
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Atom, Sublime, nano, Vim, Emacs, gedit, Visual Studio Code, Kate
Other Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the sudo command.
Conventions # – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of sudo command
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user

Best text editor for Linux

Here are some of our top picks for text editors on Linux. Which text editor is right for you? Almost all of the below text editors are available in most distribution repositories. Give them a try. You might be surprised.


Atom works well as a text editor for many different purposes. It has syntax highlighting so it can be used with coding, but it also works well at managing documents of any other type. Many users enjoy using Atom when programming in Python.

It has a customizable interface with many different themes available, so you can make it look and feel exactly how you want. Its functionality can also be extended with various plugins found online.

What we like about it:

  • Syntax highlighting, auto complete, tabbed documents
  • Customizable colors and interface
  • Plugins to extend the functionality


Sublime has one of the nicest looking interfaces of any GUI text editor. It has syntax highlighting for any common programming language, and makes it very easy to find the code you are looking to work with, even featuring an overview on the right side of the screen. The default theme looks great and has become really common to see on a lot of developers’ screens.

The application can be a bit tricky to use, just because it has so many features. Even if you are using it for simple document editing purposes, you are sure to simplify your workflow with Sublime.

What we like about it:

  • Sleek and customizable interface
  • Quick to find files or code you want to work with
  • Allows you to edit multiple sections at once


nano is a basic command line editor that is included by default on all major Linux distros. It is a very minimal program, with simple functions. It relies on keystroke combinations in order to perform various functions inside of the editor.

Even if you are used to having a more robust text editor, sometimes it is just faster and easier to open nano when you need to quickly edit a Bash script or configuration file. However, we would not recommend it for normal document editing, as it does not have features like auto complete or spell check.

What we like about it:

  • Installed by default
  • Uses intuitive keyboard shortcuts
  • Simple, no frills editor


Vim’s simplistic look can be deceiving. Under the hood, it is an absolute powerhouse that packs a ton of features hidden behind keyboard shortcuts. The only problem is that learning to use Vim efficiently is a little bit of a time investment. There is a steep learning curve when it comes to the more advanced features, but it eventually pays off.

It is a command line only editor, but likely the only one you will ever need, after you memorize a few of the most common keyboard commands. We have a dedicated guide to helping you learn how to use Vim: Vim Tutorial.

What we like about it:

  • Extremely powerful when you know the commands
  • Capable of different split pane views
  • Easy to search for text or go to a particular line


Emacs was developed by Richard Stallman, the founder behind the GNU project. It is targeted at Linux power users that want a single interface from which they can create text or code files, and do related tasks like send an email or view the calendar.

It is a GUI editor and has a very simple interface. It is a good choice whether you are writing simple text documents or programming more complex code.

What we like about it:

  • Capable of more tasks than just text editing
  • Backed by the man himself, Richard Stallman
  • Great support and documentation


gedit is the default text editor for the GNOME desktop environment, so it is usually installed by default in Linux distributions like Ubuntu. It is a lightweight GUI editor that is very intuitive and simple to use.

Despite its inherent simplicity, it still packs some very handy features like a spell checker. This is a great choice for users that like a very simple application that stays out of their way.

What we like about it:

  • General purpose editor
  • Simple; stays out of the way
  • Easy and intuitive to use

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code or VSCode is a text editor developed by Microsoft that supports many popular programming languages such as Go, Java, JavaScript, Node.js, Python, C and C++. It is a directory based, language agnostic source code editor which focuses on directories rather than projects and has many extensions available for it.

VSCode’s feature set includes bracket matching, syntax highlighting, code folding, linting, debugging, and built in version control via Git, Subversion or Perforce. Ever since the initial release of VSCode in 2015, it has become an increasingly popular programming tool amongst users of all desktop operating systems including GNU/Linux.

What we like about it:

  • Support for a wide variety of programming languages
  • Focuses on directories rather than projects
  • Huge amount of handy features built in


Kate is the default text editor for the KDE desktop environment. But, you can still use the application on other desktops as well. One of the best features of Kate is the split pane capability, so you can edit multiple documents at the same time.

It also supports syntax highlighting for a variety of programming languages. This makes it a well rounded text editor for general purposes and coding projects.

What we like about it:

  • Split pane view for multiple files
  • Included by default in KDE
  • Lightweight, quick, and responsive

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we learned about some top picks for text editors on a Linux system. Of course, many other text editors exist, but this list should steer you in the right direction for picking a text editor that suits you best.

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