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Linux Editors

This is a non-comprehensive list of editors to use in a command line environment for Linux.

A UNIX file is a collection of letters, numbers and special characters: it may be a program, a database, a dissertation, a reading list, a simple letter etc. Sometimes you may import a file from elsewhere, for example from another computer. If you want to enter your own text or data, you will start by creating a file. Whether you copied a file from elsewhere or created your own, you will need to return to it later in order to edit its contents. A text editor is a program that has been designed especially for this purpose. Keep in mind though that a text editor is not a word processor. If it's a word processor you want, then use OpenOffice or LibreOffice.

Below is a list of text editors available here in the Math Department, along with some online help guides. Each editor is different with its own capabilities and commands.


Pico is the editor provided with the popular email program Pine. It is a simple terminal-based editor, available on almost every UNIX system. The command pico starts the editor.

Pico Editor: A short and simple introduction to Pico.

Nano is a similar editor to Pico.

Joe is another similar editor to Pico.


The vi editor is a screen-based editor used by many Unix users. The vi editor has powerful features to aid programmers, but many beginning users avoid using it because the different features overwhelm them. There is no need for you to be discouraged however, as the help guides below supply great support with many examples. The command vi starts the editor. Actually, vim (vi improved) is a better version of vi.

Mastering the Vi Editor: A great place to start if you are new to Vi.

An Introdution to Display Editing with Vi: Written by Bill Joy, creator of Vi. Wonderful extensive tutorial.


Emacs is an advanced, self-documenting, customizable, extensible real-time display text editor. The command emacs starts the editor.

GNU Emacs Manual


For Linux Computers only. The Gnome editor gedit is a simple WYSIWIG X-windows based editor that provides both mouse and pointer operations for the editing of text. It's the closest thing to Windows Notepad. To start it up, open a terminal window and type gedit & or else click on Start -> Accessories -> Text Editor

Gedit Manual

Keywords:editors, linux, command line   Doc ID:114556
Owner:Erik M.Group:UW Math Department
Created:2021-10-28 12:38 CSTUpdated:2022-11-07 11:01 CST
Sites:UW Math Department
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