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6 Great Free Alternative Text Editors

6 Great Free Alternative Text Editors

Reinventing the wheel is often cited as a barrier to the adoption of open source software. Critics point out if developers combined forces on projects, instead of duplicating software that already exists, this would help to alleviate the problem of an overwhelming amount of choice that faces users when installing new software. By reducing redundancy and duplicated effort, enhanced cooperation between developers would actually help to progress the development of established open source projects. There is an element of truth that development time is wasted, and it is not hard to identify examples of developers reinventing the wheel in their code, rather than contribute their development skills to projects with broadly similar objectives.

However, one of the strengths of Linux is the huge range of software. That is, after all, one of the reasons why users are attracted to Linux in the first place. Having the opportunity to select from a plethora of software and select the ones that meet an individual's needs still makes good sense. Having hundreds of open source text editors, file managers, integrated development environments, backup tools, databases, web browsers, FTP clients increases the likelihood of applications existing that really do what a user wants. Further, even where a developer only reinvents the wheel by creating a very simple application, it is still a valuable learning experience, and from these little acorns, mighty oaks may grow.

Irrespective of the operating system used, the text editor is one of those essential applications for many users. A text editor is software used for editing plain text files. Text editors are used to write programming code, change configuration files, take notes, and more. Our Text Editor Group Test identified text editors that are frequently lauded in the Linux press. However, for this feature, we wanted to select alternative text editors which are definitely worth trying but may have been missed given that they receive less coverage in Linux publications, and are not included or installed by default in many Linux distributions.

Now, let's explore the 6 text editors at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources and reviews.

Text Editors
medit Programming and around-programming text editor
Textadept Fast, minimalist, and extensible cross-platform text editor
RText Customizable editor written in Java
Zile Very small Emacs-subset editor
XML Copy Editor Fast, free, validating XML editor
Editra Easy to use interface and offers features that aid in code development

Return to our complete collection of Group Tests, identifying the finest Linux software.

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Last Updated Sunday, April 27 2014 @ 11:34 AM EDT


We have written a range of guides highlighting excellent free books for popular programming languages. Check out the following guides: C, C++, C#, Java, JavaScript, CoffeeScript, HTML, Python, Ruby, Perl, Haskell, PHP, Lisp, R, Prolog, Scala, Scheme, Forth, SQL, Node.js (new), Fortran (new), Erlang (new), Pascal (new), and Ada (new).


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