Non-Linux FOSS: Notepad++ Is Better Better

If anyone understands the importance of a good text editor, it's a Linux user stuck on Windows. Sure, Microsoft supplies Notepad and Wordpad, but neither really feels like the powerful sort of text editor a Linux user expects. Enter Notepad++.

Notepad++ provides features like line numbering, syntax highlighting and tabbed file editing. If those seem like ordinary features that should be included in any text editor worth its salt, well, you're right. Notepad++ is fully open source, and it is the preferred simple text editor on Windows. It's certainly not a full IDE, but all the developers I know have it installed if they use Windows. Give it a try at


Shawn is Associate Editor here at Linux Journal, and has been around Linux since the beginning. He has a passion for open source, and he loves to teach. He also drinks too much coffee, which often shows in his writing.


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Why not both!

N!D's picture

I've got to say that there is not much to pick between Geany and Notepad++. There are dark themes available for both.
The easyest way to get Notepad++ is through Ninite dot com.
You can also get a portable app version too to carry with you.
PS in 1982 we used a word processor called Edword on BBC B micros. It was the best available at the time. I hated it. Thankfully the world has moved on, I just wish the Vim debate would too.

Vim is also cross-platform

Sum Yung Gai's picture

I've tried out Notepad++. Yep, it's pretty good, and I would have no problem recommending it.

Here's yet another option. For those who are accustomed to vi, and that probably includes most GNU/Linux admins, I've found that there's a version of vim that runs on Microsoft Windows. I'm stuck having an MS Windows box at work, mostly 'cause of MS Outlook, though I (thankfully!) have a GNU/Linux box right next to it. So, what to do when I need to use the Microsoft box?

Enter vim for Win32. It is basically Gvim, with all the arcane key syntax we all have grown to "love" (memories of WordStar come flooding back--shudder). And like Gvim on GNU/Linux, the mouse also works on vim for Win32.

With it, Firefox, and Cygwin, the Microsoft box becomes kinda useful. Thank you, F/OSS writers.

And for those who point out that Evolution now talks MAPI to MS Exchange Server, yes, I know. But the Evolution MAPI connector's still too buggy for production use. Yep, even buggier than Outlook. So, I still need the Microsoft box to keep my paycheck...for now. Now, at home, I run what I want, and that's Free Software. :-)


Does it have a "night mode"?

RO's picture

What I mean is that I hate white backgrounds,so any time I can change the settings, I make them dark. Problem is, most of these editors use "dark highlighting", which obscures instead of highlighting on dark/black backgrounds. I am not going to tweak every color choice setting for these editors, so on Solaris/Linux, I make sure I set my TERM=vt100 instead of typcial xterm to take away that foolishness to use with vi/vim, but that is just a workaround.

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adf fad's picture

Emacs is the answer to every question you might have.

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Geany rules!

StrayFeral's picture

After spending years both on Linux and Windows and having to work on both, I started to prefer cross-platform editors. That's why my personal choice is Geany.

As addition to Geany, on Windows I use AstroGrep (graphical grep for Win) and The Regex Coach for testing some more complex regexes. There is a graphical Tail somebody wrote in Python. Add some external hex editor and you have all you need.

Otherwise for Windows, the best freeware programmer's editor I've found and used is PSPad. Notepad++ and ConText are not so good. Ultraedit is preferred just because of the built-in hex editor. But purely on Windows, PSPad rules.

However for cross-platform, my choice for years is Geany.

And of course for the purists, there is gvim and the gnuutils package.

Notepad++ on Linux

Anonymous's picture

I have been through this "what text editor should I use on my Linux OS" question many times and have tried many of them only to realize that Notepad++ just has everything one needs. So what I do is I run Notepad++ on CrossOver, and it works great. It can also be installed on plain Wine I believe.


Anonymous's picture

Yes it can be installed on wine, very handy. I was lost without Notepad++ on Linux and Wine did the trick!

Programmer's Notepad

Eduardo Escofet's picture

Programmer's Notepad is like Notepad++, a project worthy to continue and improve

NoteTab deserves a good look

Anonymous's picture

NoteTab from was my favorite when I wasted time with Microsoft. If I had to use MS, I'd go back to NoteTab.

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DeveloperInGray's picture

Sigh, Notepad++ is indeed my favourite text editor. Unfortunately it's only offered on Windows - that excreble OS.

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Connie's picture

I would use Geany. Easy to use IDE included and context highlighting for a larger number of script languages. I used to think Notepad++ was great until I moved to Linux and found that Kate, Geany, Gedit, not to mention many command line editors all have features I thought was special about Notepad++

Text editor

Anonymous's picture

Ditto on Linux and Geany. Awesome. On the other hand, who needs a text editor, no matter how great? The whole windows ecology is designed to discourage any hands on coding. Vast majority of consumers are not interested or involved in producing useful bits, which will require a text editor. And a better one than notepad. Most drivers don't change their oil, either.

That said, it would be nice if the powers that be at Microsoft buy or write a decent text editor and include it as part of their amazingly overpriced, confusing, and insecure offering :)


Mike Frett's picture

Well thank goodness I'm not stuck on dirty Windows then, lucky me. Or maybe it's not luck, maybe I just decided I didn't need that old Windows crutch anymore.

Ditch the NSA crutch people, you don't need it anymore than you need a Smoke or a Drink. That limp you have is a habit.


Anonymous's picture

I think JEdit is the best for both Windows and Linux.

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geany - the best

Anonymous's picture

geany, the best on linux, the best on windows

Once upon a time's picture

Once upon a time, you dived into a text editor called Vim (or gVim, Vim-qt whatever), you were imprisoned by it, because no one else could satisfy you anymore.

Re: Once upon a time

crc's picture

I do use gvim on Windows, if I really have to do something in there. I couldn't do without it.

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Mostafa's picture

I, personally prefer Vi/Vim/GVim Much More !!!


Mostafa's picture

I, personally prefer Vi/Vim/GVim **Much More** !!!

+1 for gVim

Anonymous's picture

If you're a vim user on Linux it's the only sane option

Why not use gVim on Windows?

Anonymous's picture

Why not use gVim on Windows? It's great.

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Sublime-Text 2's picture

While Sublime Text 2 is not open-source most if not all of the extensions for it are open-source. It is also cross-platform and is very, very powerful editor.

Once you get into Sublime Text 2, there is no looking back for sure, at least that happened to me :) LOL

Notepad++ is fine, but IMO it is not as decent and as powerful as Sublime Text 2 is. Just my 2 cents ;)


Anonymous's picture

Or you could use GNU Emacs for Windows. It's more extensible than Notepad++,
it's truly cross-platform, and it doesn't require one to learn any new key commands.

+1 for emacs

Ken Sallings's picture

I can't imagine life without emacs. Well, maybe I could; it would consist of vim.

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