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Notepad++ alternative for Linux

In Linux on August 18, 2011 at 6:34 pm

Nov 3 2011 note: let me save you time, I wrote this post in August 2011, IMHO Geany is the closest, feature-wise, to Notepad++ on Linux. If you want other alternatives you can read the original post…

As I write software for a living, I do a lot of text editing as well and for that I’ve been using Notepad++. It’s an excellent piece of software which, if I were to choose only 3 software apps to have as a developer, Notepad++ would be one of them (the 2 others would be Netbeans and SecureCRT). Having moved to using Fedora 15 recently, naturally I was hoping Notepad++ would have a linux version, but such is not the case. Notepad++ under Wine turned out to be practically unusable.

I’ve tried two alternatives: gedit and Bluefish. Both can do the job reasonably well though I’d rate Bluefish as the better of the two, however, both are neither Notepad++. When I checked the Notepad++ site again (who knows? they might have released a linux version in the week since I last checked!), I read that Notepad++ is based on the editing engine called Scintilla. The good thing is, the developers have also written an editor based on the engine and best of all it also runs under Linux. The editor is called SciTE.

The default installation of SciTE is pretty much like BlueFish.. however you have to tweak it a bit to bring out the powerful features of the application.

Default installation is very minimalistic

These are the features I miss the most from Notepad++ and which I want to have on SciTE:

  1. Singleton instance (I dont want multiple editors everytime I open a file)
  2. Show a files’ complete path (very important since I regularly compare files with the same name)
  3. Load previously opened files upon startup (if I was working on several files and had to do a forced restart I want the files in my previous session to be where I left them off).

To get the functionality I want, I checked out SciTE’s configuration page, fired up SciTE and opened SciTE’s user’s options file (that’d be under Options->Open User Options File) — alternatively you can edit the Global Options but you’d have to use root to edit — after some testing settled on just placing these few lines in the User Options File:

#option if you want to use the icons of the current GTK theme, personally I like the default icons
#toolbar.usestockicons=1

#auto maximize the window
position.maximize=1

#default tool bars, reminds me of NP++
toolbar.visible=1

#so you can see the full path of the file on top
title.full.path=1

#singleton instance — ie I dont want to see many editors, opening files will simply create a new tab
check.if.already.open=1

#make teh status bar at the bottom visible
statusbar.visible=1

#this will save the last session, so when scite is fired up the files from the previous session are loaded.
save.session=1

#save list of recent files
save.recent=1

I saved the file, closed SciTE and when I fired it up I got the features I’ve been looking for.

Got my favorite Notepad++ feaures on SciTE!

With the small updates, my SciTE now shows the the full path’s of my opened files, runs as a singleton and ‘remembers’ my previous sessions. I’ll update this post if I missed anything.

Update: 2011-08-23

I’ve added this to make selections and searched words stand out (the default is greyed background):


#background select/find color
selection.alpha=256
selection.back=#ba0101
selection.fore=#ffffff

Update: 2011-11-03

Or you can just install Geany. Same features above “out-of-the-box”. Thanks to “tiny” for the suggestion =)

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  1. How about Geany?

  2. Thank you for your advice about Geany !! Very good

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