Open Source Musings


(Note: This post was originally published, in a slightly different form, at and appears here via a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International License.)

I don't do Windows. The operating system, I mean. At least, not on my own computers and not with any of my own work.

When I was a consultant, I often had to work out of my clients' offices, which meant using their hardware, which also meant using Windows at many of those offices.

Even when using Windows, I tried to install as much open source software as I could. Why? Because it works as well as (if not better than) its proprietary equivalents. One of the applications I always installed was Notepad++, which I looked at for The Plain Text Project.

To be honest, I've wanted a version of Notepad++ for Linux for a while now. Someone made my wish come true in the shape of Notepadqq. Although it's billed as “a text editor for developers,” it's not a bad tool for writers or anyone else, either.

Let's take a look at it.


There are a myriad of note taking tools out there. And those tools cater to a variety of needs and to a variety of user bases. It isn't a stretch to say that there's a note taking application for just about everyone.

If you use Nextcloud, you have a more-than-serviceable option in the form of (wait for it!) Notes. It's worth a look if your note taking needs are simple and you want to work in plain text.

Let's take that look, shall we?


Something that that Linux desktop isn't lacking is tools for working with plain text. That's especially true for text editors. I should know — I've tried more than a few in my time.

A while back, I was having a spot of bother with an editor called Gedit. That bother had to do with the editor's search function — I don't recall the details, to be honest. To get around that problem, I turned to another editor called FeatherPad.

I found FeatherPad to be a more-than-adequate editor, one with several useful functions. Even though I looked at it briefly in another post, I've been meaning to take a closer look at FeatherPad. So why don't we do that now?


(This post was first published, in a slightly different form, at and appears here via a CC-BY-SA 4.0 license.)

Before you start reaching for those implements of mayhem, Emacs and vim fans, understand that this article isn't me putting the boot to your favorite editor. I've used both Emacs and vim. And I like them both. A lot.

That said, I realize that Emacs and vim aren't for everyone. It might be that the silliness of the so-called Editor War has turned some people off. Or maybe they just want an editor that's less demanding and which has a more modern sheen.

If you're looking for an alternative to Emacs or vim, keep reading. I have two that might interest you.


In my work on The Plain Text Project and for, I've looked at ... well, a lot of text editors over the years. And when readers didn't see their favourite editor in an article, they suggested I include it.

Besides the usual suspects, one editor that kept popping up was Geany. While I haven't written a lot about Geany, I'm not unfamiliar with it. Despite being aimed at developers, Geany was for years the editor I used when working on LaTeX documents.

Since it's been quite some time since I've used it, so I recently decided to give Geany another look. Let's jump in.


(Note: This article was first published at and appears here via a CC BY-SA 4.0 license.)

Unless your a coder, a system administrator, or a DevOps person, that editor doesn't need to be bristling with functions and functions. A lightweight text editor is more than enough for most people.

Choices abound. You can use the editor that's baked into your Linux distribution or you can go with one of these lightweight text editors.


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.


(Note: This post was originally published at 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.