Tag Archives: Zim

Gedit versus Zim-Wiki for text writers

The best writing tool for writers is in my opinion a text editor, as I explained in this post. And frankly, it doesn’t matter what text-editor.

But I am not sure how to progress from there. I am a fan of freewriting, and this practice produces a lot of .txt files. Finding a system that can help me order it in the best way so that it can give me an overview and search possibilities will probably be a life long quest.

For my daily writing I started some months ago with the Linux text editor Gedit. It’s a good looking text editor that, combined with its plugins, does a fine job for a writer. Especially with the session saver plugin activated it is easy to keep different chapters, notes or a todo list of a book you are writing, in one session. Very practical and efficient.

The open source program Zim-wiki (see this post for my introduction of Zim) does more or less the same, but has a more streamlined approach to sessions. This could well help to keep an overview of the many .txt files that I produce. Zim-wiki  is not as allround as Gedit, but focuses on text writing. I tried both and wrote the following comparison:

The Comparison

First of all I must stress again that there is a big difference in the aim of both programs. Gedit can be used for many things, it is great for writing code for example, Zim-wiki is for writing text or at least notes.

My comparison only deals with those features that writers of text or notes would use.


  • Zim .txt files are always gathered in so called notebooks, but stored as individual .txt files. The files of the current notebook show up in the sidepanel, where they can be moved around and new files can be added or created. New files can also easily be made in the txt file itself.
  • The possibility of basic text formatting is nice for the eye and therefore a bit practical for writers, although a final more complicated layout should be done in a wordprocessor. Links can be added and the preferred application will open them. For example links to websites will open in your browser. Pictures can be added too (but I am not sure if that is a true advantage for a writer).
  • All sorts of files can be imported into a Zim notebook, for example as an attachment. Txt files like for example from Gedit can be opened and entered into the system without a problem.
  • The shortcut “[]” produces checkboxes that can be checked or unchecked. They are a bit fun and practical as Zim can gather all these [] boxes from all pages in the notebook, so that they can be used as a todo list or as tags for other purposes.
  • The calender plugin turns Zim into a journal or logbook. It stores the calender files in a year/month/day structure on the computer, which is practical.
  • There are many keyboard shortcuts so that the hands can stay on the keyboard as long as possible.
  • There is a search option giving quick access to search results of all files in a Zim-notebook. This is good way to go through a group of files.
  • Zim is available for windows too.

And with all this Zim still produces just a gathering of .txt files, ready to use wherever you want. Although the Zim-wiki way of formatting will be replaced by its equivalent symbols (E.g. “a bold word” becomes “a **bold** word” in a standard .txt file).


  • With the panel plugin Gedit can create an F9 sidepanel that shows all files in a folder using the computer’s file system . There is no interaction between the files from this panel (but they can be opened from there of course).
  • One can create sessions with the session saver plugin, this reminds of Zim’s notebooks, but Gedit’s sessions is not much more than a quick way to open a number of files at once.
  • The fact that Gedit can’t format text can certainly be seen as an advantage, as less possibilities should give less distraction.
  • Just like Zim-Wiki, Gedit also has many plugins for writers, like “Documents Statistics”, “Spell checker” and “Snippets” (for entering often used text).
  • It produces pure .txt files that can be opened as the are on any computer or other device regardless of the operating system or writing software installed.
  • Gedit is optimized for much more than just writing .txt files, like for example coding and LaTex

While checking both programs I noticed that Gedit does a good job when the same file is open in both Zim and Gedit. Both notice that the same file is being updated on the harddisk, but Zim just saves its version or comes with a rather confusing error message, where as Gedit shows immediately a warning message stating that the file has been updated on the harddisk and gives the option to reload it.


As Zim focuses solemnly on writing text and notes it has extra features that are practical, like the many shortcuts, the search option within a notebook (a series of .txt files), the sidepanel with good overview of the files and its subfiles and the text formatting possibilities. The notebook system might be a good way to have some order in the may .txt files, so I will use Zim for my writing for now and see how it works out with large amounts of data.

Gedit will definitely be my preferred .txt application on my computer for all other purposes than my normal writing activities, as it is most practical in opening and editing a single .txt file. And of course it excels in writing and reading code.

Zim – Gain controle over your text files

Zim is made for Linux but according to the FAQ it can run in Windows.

Zim is more than just a text editor. Besides handling the most common formatting of text it serves as an excellent collector of .txt files and it will create and keep track of new files within the blink of an eye, so to speak.
It describes itself as a Desktop Wiki because of this and is comparable with for example Wikipad (Windows) and Tomboy (Linux).

When Zim starts it asks you to create a Notebook, which will be the home of a group of .txt files you are about to make. After that you can just start typing like in any other text editor, but when you select a word and click “link” it will automatically create a new .txt file linked to that word. This file will show up in the hierarchy of your notebook in the left hand panel, giving you an excellent overview of the files you create this way.
It is also possible to link to a document on your harddisk this way (triggering the connected application to open) or to an external link on the internet.

One could make good use of Zim’s capabilities when making notes during your study. Just create pages for subjects you want to make some quick notes about and these notes will be interlinked to the main text of your study and will always be easily available and updated.
Maybe you are writing a novel and use Zim to keep track of your places, persons and storylines in these small and fast .txt files or, with the help of the calender plugin, you can keep a diary or logbook.
I had for example a todo-list and a logbook for each month,  in separate .txt files, but now I gathered them in Zim.

Zim can also track your todo’s where ever they are in the Notebook and display a nice todo list with the todo list plugin.

See the screenshots on this page for an overview.

Related post: Gedit versus Zim-Wiki for text writers.

A list of text applications that can be found in Linux Ubuntu – Part 2

In part 1 of this series of 3 posts I wrote about what text editing applications I can install on my computer using the options available under Linux Ubuntu 9.04.

I listed the text editing software available that can be found when clicking on

“Applications” -> “Add/remove” -> “Office”

Click here if you want to visit that post.


In this post I look at the software found under “Applications” -> “Add/remove” -> “Accessories”.

Concentrating on the text-editing software I found 1 journal or diary and 11 different text editors and some other versions of them.


In part 3 of the 3 posts about Ubuntu software I will look at programs that can be found under “Applications” -> “Add/remove” -> “Internet”.


I again copy/pasted the text that is given for each program and took a screenshot of the programs as they appeared on my screen.


Journal -Diary:

Almanah Diary

Almanah is a small application to ease management of a personal diary. It has basic editing and linking abilities like:

* adding links to other content to diary entries

* database encryption

* search and printing support

Homepage: http://tecnocode.co.uk/projects/almanah/

Text Editors:

GNU Emacs 21 (X11)

GNU Emacs is the extensible self-documenting text editor.

An almost mysterious program as it isn’t so easy to understand right away.

But this page helps to understand it: http://www.gnu.org/software/emacs/tour/

In short the Emacs programs are exstensible and customizable editors that can be used for more than just text editing. There are for example also designed to handle many programmer- languages.

They are available for many operating systems, including Linux, Windows and Mac.

After installing the Emacs programs the following 2 items can also be found under accessories:

Emacs 22 (clients)

Emacs Snapshot (GTK)

GNU Emacs 22 (GTK)

GNU Emacs is the extensible self-documenting text editor. This package contains a version of Emacs compiled with support for GTK+ 2.x

Seems to be like the Emacs21 in a different layout.

GNU Emacs 22 (X11)

If you have GTK+ 2.x installed on your system, you will probably have a better experience with the emacs22-gtk package, instead of this one.

GNU TeXmacs

GNU TeXmacs is a free scientific text editor, which was both inspired by TeX and GNU Emacs.

The editor allows you to write structured documents via a WYSIWYG (what-you-see-is-what-you-get) and a user friendly interface. New styles may be created by the user. The program implements high-quality typesetting algorithms and TeX fonts, which help you to produce professionally looking documents. The high typesetting quality still goes through for automatically generated formulas, which makes TeXmacs suitable as an interface for computer algebra systems. TeXmacs also supports the Guile/Scheme extension language, so that you may customize the interface and write your own extensions to the editor. This package contains the architecture dependent files.

Homepage: http://www.texmacs.org


Vim is an almost compatible version of the UNIX editor Vi.

Many new features have been added: multi level undo, syntax highlighting, command line history, on-line help, filename completion, block operations, folding, Unicode support, etc. This package contains a version of vim compiled with a GNOME2 GUI and support for scripting with Perl, Python, Ruby, and Tcl.

Homepage: http://www.vim.org/


Kate is a powerful text editor that can open multiple files simultaneously.

With a built-in terminal, syntax highlighting, and tabbed sidebar, it performs as a lightweight but capable development environment. Kate’s many tools, plugins, and scripts make it highly customizable. Kate’s features include:

* Multiple saved sessions, each with numerous files

* Scriptable syntax highlighting, indentation, and code-folding

* Configurable templates and text snippets

* Symbol viewers for C, C++, and Python

* XML completion and validation This package is part of the KDE 4 Software Development Kit module.

Homepage: http://www.kde.org

In the program itself there is a reference to this site: http://www.kate-editor.org.

Note that this program is not mentioned in the right alphabetical order in the list of applications. It is a little longer down the list.


KWrite is the KDE 4 simple text editor. It uses the Kate editor component, so it supports powerful features such as flexible syntax highlighting, automatic indentation, and numerous other text tools.

This package is part of the KDE 4 base applications module.

Homepage: http://www.kde.org/

Also here there is a reference to this site: http://www.kate-editor.org.


Leafpad is a simple GTK+ based text editor, the user interface is similar to Notepad. It aims to be lighter than GEdit & KWrite, and to be as useful as them

Homepage: http://tarot.freeshell.org/leafpad/

Indeed a light and quick simple text editor.



* Configurable syntax highlighting.

* Configurable keyboard accelerators.

* Multiplatform – works both on unix and windows.

* Plugins: can be written in C or Python.

* Configurable tools available from the main and context menus. They can be

written in Python, or it can be a shell script, or in MooScript – simple

builtin scripting lanugage.

* Regular expression search/replace, grep and find frontends, builtin file

selector and whatnot.

Homepage: http://mooedit.sourceforge.net/

The build in Terminal feature looks interesting for Linux users.


Mousepad is a graphical text editor for Xfce based on Leafpad.

The initial reason for Mousepad was to provide printing support, which would have been difficult for Leafpad for various reasons. Although some features are under development, currently Mousepad has the following features:

* Complete support for UTF-8 text

* Cut/Copy/Paste and Select All text

* Search and Replace

* Font selection

* Word Wrap

* Character coding selection

* Auto character coding detection (UTF-8 and some code-sets)

* Manual code-set setting

* Infinite Undo/Redo by word

* Auto Indent

* Multi-line Indent

* Display line numbers

* Drag and Drop

* Printing

As mention in this text, this is a program identical to Leafpad. But Mousepad is said have added printing support to the program, where as my version of Leafpad of today actually has printing support and even print preview. When I click on “Print” in Mousepad I get a error “Can’t open pipe to process”.


Scribes focuses on streamlining your workflow. It does so by ensuring that common and repetitive operations are intelligently automated and also by eliminating factors that prevent you from focusing on your tasks.

The result is a text editor that provides a fluid user experience, that is easy and fun to use and that ensures the safety of your documents at all times.

Homepage: http://scribes.sourceforge.net/

Made to function under the Linux Gnome Desktop.

A well documented program with an interesting homepage. Some features can be found in the right click pop-up window (see screenshot).

Tea Text Editor

TEA provides you hundreds of functions. Want some tea?

TEA features are:

* Built-in file manager Kwas

* Spell checker (using the aspell)

* Tabbed layout engine

* Multiply encodings support

* Code snippets, sessions and templates support

* RTF-reader

* SRT-subtitles preview with Mplayer in a current subtitles position

* Text analyzer called UNITAZ

* Hot keys customizations

* “Open at cursor”-function for HTML-files and images

* Misc HTML tools

* Bracket matching

* Preview in external browsers

* String-handling functions such as sorting, reverse, format killing,

trimming, filtering, conversions etc.

* Bookmarks

* Drag’n’drop support (with text files and pictures)

* Built-in image viewer (PNG, JPEG, GIF, WBMP, BMP)

Homepage: http://tea-editor.sourceforge.net/

Unfortunately the “fine english manual” and the “read the fine English manual” as it is called in the help section opened first in Konquerer and when I click a link to a chapter it opened the code in Screemr.

But it indeed has many options, so I am sure this can be changed.

Here is a link to a community homepage: http://community.livejournal.com/tea4linux/


TextEdit is a relatively basic text editor. It handles plain text, RTF, and RTFD has a nice “Wrap to Page” mode, has search/replace functionality, and can display any file as text

Homepage: http://www.nongnu.org/backbone/apps.html

With a layout existing of different windows. Part of the Backbone system.

Text Editor

gedit is a text editor which supports most standard editor features, extending this basic functionality with other features not usually found in simple text editors. gedit is a graphical application which supports editing multiple text files in one window (known sometimes as tabs or MDI).

gedit fully supports international text through its use of the Unicode UTF-8 encoding in edited files. Its core feature set includes syntax highlighting of source code, auto indentation and printing and print preview support. gedit is also extensible through its plugin system, which currently includes support for spell checking, comparing files, viewing CVS ChangeLogs, and adjusting indentation levels.

Homepage: http://www.gnome.org/projects/gedit/

This is the standard build in text editor of Ubuntu at the moment. Known as gedit.

Zim Desktop Wiki

Zim is a WYSIWYG text editor. It aims at bringing the concept of a wiki to your desktop. For example every page is saved as a text file with wiki markup. Pages can contain links to other pages, and are saved automatically. Creating a new page is as easy as linking to a non-existing page. Pages are ordered in a hierarchical structure that gives it the look and feel of an outliner.

This tool can be used to keep track of TODO lists or ideas, to take notes during a meeting or to draft any other kind of text (blog entries, important mails, etc.).

Homepage: http://zim-wiki.org

An interesting wiki-like concept. Create new pages by creating a link in the “home” document. In this way pages (in a “notebook”) are always interlinked. The TODO list view and the calender gives it extra possibilities.


Link to part 1 of these three posts – software found under “Office”

Link to part 3 of these three posts – software found under “internet”