Open Source Musings

Focusing on Linux and open source, with a decidedly non-techie slant

The humble (and often, not-so-humble) text editor. It can be a wonderful thing. I know more than a few people who are zealous about their editors, and view them in the same way that they view their toothbrushes. Yes, they’re that hardcore.

Having said that, I know more than a few people who actually shy away from text editors. Why? Because they view editors as strictly a programmer’s tool. Nothing could be further from the truth. Even though I’m not a coder of any stripe, I find a text editor to be a valuable tool. More than that actually. For me, a good text editor is indispensable.

You might be writing an article, either in straight text or with a markup language like Markdown. You might be editing the HTML of your web site. You might be peeking at a shell script. Or you might just be taking a peek at a README file or change log for some software that you’re about to install. Pulling those kinds of files into a word processor is overkill.

Those are situations in which text editors are very handy. But with so many editors out there for the Linux desktop, how do you choose the one that’s for you? And by you, I mean someone who isn’t a software developer or (too much of) a techie. Someone who thinks that C is the third letter in the alphabet, for whom regular expressions are an ordinary way of speaking.

Everyone has their own favourite editor. Here’s some advice I give people who are looking for the right one for them.

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So much music, so many desktop music players, and so little time.

I’m sure that most Linux users can rattle off the names of a few music players. We’ve all tried a few (sometimes more than a few), in the hopes of finding the right one. I know I have. The closest I came to finding that music player was one called Songbird. Until it stopped working and the developers stopped showing the Linux version any love.

While I still haven’t found that music player that’s perfect for me, one that I stumbled across a while ago has made an impression. It’s called Clementine and while it’s simple, it does quite a good job.

Let’s take a look at it.

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(Note: This post was originally published at Opensource.com and appears here via a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.)

While I'm of two minds when it comes to smartphones and tablets, they can be useful. Not just for keep in touch with the people or using the web, but also to do some work when I'm away from my computer.

If you haven't already figured it out, for me that work is writing — articles, blog posts, essays for my weekly letter, ebook chapters, and more. I've tried many (probably too many!) writing apps for Android over the years. Some of them were good. Others fell flat.

In this article, I'd like to share four of my favorite open source Android apps for writers. You might find them as useful as I do.

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When I mention that I contribute to free/open source projects, and that I do it for free, the question that I invariably hear is _If you're doing it for free, then what do you get out of it?

That's the wrong question. Why? Because I've already gotten something from the projects that I support. That might be the software I'm using, a community I can turn to for help or take part in, or ideas that intrigue me.

Admittedly, I don't contribute as much as I want to or think I should. But I try to do as much as I can, not matter how little that actually is.

Whether it's writing or crafting documentation, advocating certain projects, writing articles, being a community moderator at Opensource.com, posting in this space, or making a small donation, I'm trying to give something back.

I'm trying to share software and ideas that I appreciate.

I'm trying to spread my enthusiasm for FLOSS.

I'm trying to make more people aware of alternatives to commercial software.

I'm trying to teach and to learn.

Are these efforts reaching anyone? I'm not sure, though I hope they are. But that doesn't mean I'll stop trying.

Scott Nesbitt

#FOSS #opensource #opinion

It's shocking to see what people know, or more to the point don't know, about Linux these days. And I'm not talking about this from the perspective of a techie.

Not only is there a lot of old information and misinformation floating around out there, but there are also a number myths that still linger. And a few persistent whines, too.

There's more to this than what FUDsters keep spreading. It's also the general lack of knowledge on the part of the ordinary computer user and people who should know better.

Here's a look at half a dozen myths and whines surrounding Linux.

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Just to spare you the pain, I won't go into my usual spiel about how useful the command line is. It is, even for the non techie.

In the terminal window, there are so many commands and so little time to learn them all. And there are so many little tips and tricks that can make life (or even just a visit) to the command line a bit easier.

Let's take a look at a few of my favourite tips. If you've been using the command line for any length of time, these tips will probably be old hat to you. But if you're still learning about the Linux command line, then you might find these tips useful.

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If you've been reading my site The Plain Text Project, you know that I'm a heavy user of Markdown. I do a lot of writing with it. In fact, just about all of my writing is done with a text editor and Markdown. Mainly articles and blog posts, but also book chapters and editions of my weekly letter.

To be honest, I'm not one to use a dedicated Markdown editor. While I use a text editor called Emacs for my writing, I've also tried several dedicated Markdown editors. Most left me feeling cold. A few I found useful and worth taking a second or third look at.

One of those editors is ReText. While it's not the prettiest editor out there, ReText is a solid and capable tool with some useful features.

Let's take a closer look at it.

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