Linux GUI text editors

Many Linux users like to stick to the command line whenever possible, even when editing documents. However, a GUI based text editor is much better suited for certain types of document editing, such as for a school paper or other lengthy document. A GUI text editor allows us to visualize the paper as it would appear once printed, and see where each new page is separated.

There are many GUI based text editors to choose from on a Linux system. Chances are that your system already has one or more editors installed by default, but there are many others that we can download and install for free. We have compiled some of our top choices for GUI based text editors, and listed our favorite features about each of them below. This will help you choose one that is best suited for you and your editing needs.

In this tutorial you will learn:

  • List of GUI text editors for Linux
Linux GUI text editors
Linux GUI text editors
Software Requirements and Linux Command Line Conventions
Category Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used
System Any Linux distro
Software Atom, Sublime, 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


Atom 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.

Using Atom text editor on a Linux system
Using Atom text editor on a Linux system

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.

The best features include:

  • Very easy to interact with for beginner users
  • Syntax highlighting, auto complete, tabbed documents
  • Customizable colors and interface
  • Plugins to extend the functionality


Sublime is a super light text editor, which makes it one of the fastests text editors used on Linux. It 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.

Using Sublime text editor on a Linux system
Using Sublime text editor on a Linux system

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.

The best features include:

  • Supports mutliple programming languages such as C, C++, HTML, Java, SQL, etc
  • Offers a command color pallete that allow users to execute commands with ease
  • Sleek and customizable interface
  • Quick to find files or code you want to work with
  • Allows you to edit multiple sections at once


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.

Using Emacs text editor on a Linux system
Using Emacs text editor on a Linux system

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.

The best features include:

  • 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.

Using gedit text editor on a Linux system
Using gedit text editor on a Linux system

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.

The best features include:

  • Helps you configure synxtax highlighting for many programming languages
  • 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.

Using Visual Studio Code on a Linux system
Using Visual Studio Code on a Linux system

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.

The best features include:

  • Offers a large variety of plugings and extensions
  • 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.

Using Kate text editor on a Linux system
Using Kate text editor on a Linux system

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.

The best features include:

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

Closing Thoughts

In this tutorial, we learned about some top choices for GUI based text editors on a Linux system. Although many Linux users prefer to use command line text editors whenever available, there is still a need for GUI based editors in certain situations. While there are numerous other options to choose from, the aforementioned selections can help guide you towards choosing the most fitting text editor for your needs.

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