Note Taking Software for Linux

Evernote and Microsoft OneNote are the most used note taking applications, and for good reason-- each packs a lot of features into their package. But what if you're a Linux user? Neither program has a Linux version. When visiting online message boards, I have seen reports of porting Evernote into Linux using WINE and playonlinux. But are there any good note taking apps specifically developed for Linux?

As it turns out, there. A lot of them in fact. Many are not much more than glorified text editors, although for some people, that may be all you need. But how about some note taking heavyweights that are packed with features? Well, let me show some to you!

Xournal

Looking for a handy note taking app that works with a stylus? Then check out Xournal. It was developed for the Gnome desktop, but has been ported to just about every Linux environment available. I tried this out on my Fujitsu tablet (running Xubuntu), and I found it quite effective for written notes and diagrams with the stylus, as well as traditional keyboarding.

Another great feature of this program is the ability to open and annotate pdf file. That right, you can highlight, make notes and then save a copy of the pdf with those annotations. A side benefit is that this is a great app for filling out pdf forms.

While this software does not have near the functionality of the next two note takers, I felt it needed mention simply because of the stylus interface and the ability to annotate pdfs.

Zim Desktop Wiki

Zim calls itself a “desktop personal wiki”, and as soon as the program is opened, you understand why. The page hierarchy is certainly wiki-like. On the left is a tree-type index, which allows for quick linking to pages. If you are used to wiki syntax (such as double brackets around a word to make it into a link), you will be right at home. And for those who are used to word processors, standard keyboard shortcuts (like Ctrl-B for bold) are supported.

This software does far more than organize notes. Add photos from your hard drive, take and insert screenshots, copy pictures from the web…there are tons of things you can do with this app. Speaking of pulling from the web, there is a Firefox extension that allows you to highlight a webpage section and send it directly to a Zim. Not only is it sent there, but a dialog box pops up and asks where to place the web content. And if you have both Zim and your internet browser open, you can drag and drop images… no copy and paste needed.

Much of the functionality is provided with plugins, and while there are not a lot right now, more are in development. For example, one plugin allows you to use @tags, which can then be used for tag filtering. Are you the kind of person that is easily distracted while writing? (If so, I sympathize with you.) Just click the F11 button for a distraction free document editor. Disorganized and need a “To Do” list? Not only can you create that list, but make checkmark boxes that are clickable as you finish the task. There is also a journal plugin.

Sharing is easy with Zim. Files can be exported in a variety of formats, including HTML (you can also use Zime to create web pages… a nice added feature).

I found Zim to be a great note taking app, although it does take some time to learn to use it. After that period, however, you note taking productivity will skyrocket. This is definitely a program to check out.

BasKet Note Pads

BasKet Note Pads is a note taking app developed for the KDE desktop. However, I have been running it on Cinnamon 2.0, and have heard reports of individuals using it in Gnome, Unity and XFCE (you will have to add KDE dependencies). If you are looking for a feature-packed note app, this is your baby.

This software organizes your notes into what it calls baskets; each basket can be further subdivided (sub-baskets?) into a tree-type hierarchy. Each basket can then hold multiple pages of notes. And what can you put in your notes? Just about anything! Add images, text links, chunks of web pages…there are tons of options. Once those notes are on those pages, you can move them around on the pages as text blocks (or images, or whatever the case may be) to organize as you see fit.

Speaking of images, there is a neat screenshot tool included in this software. Let’s say you want to take a screenshot of a portion of a webpage. Select the screenshot tool, use the cursor to highlight a section of the page, and bam! The screenshot is taken and imported into your notes.

For those who use Kontact, the KDE personal information manager (AKA Outlook killer), BasKets integrates with this suite of applications. This brings your notes together with calander, contact manager, email, and task manager. You can also integrate KDE program launchers into the notes.

Sharing notes is easy with this application. You can easily sync to a cloud service such as dropbox or Ubuntu One. (For security, you can imbed the baskets with passwords.) Friends don’t have basket? Not a problem; simply export the notes as HTML pages. And if your friends send you notes from some other program, you can easily import from KNotes, Sticky Notes and many others.

If there is a downside to this program it is updates, or to be more precise, the lack of updates. BasKets has not been updated since 2010. But unless it is updated in the near future, I’m afraid this application will fall to the wayside.

Wrap up

As I said earlier, there are simply tons of note taking apps out there, and it would be impossible to mention them all. And for a lot of people, the functionality of BasKets or Zim may not be desired. However, for those power users, BasKets or Zim should fit the bill. If you have a stylus tablet, Xournal is amazing. Myself, I have been using both Xournal and BasKets for some time. BasKets is my main note taking app, while Xournal filt my need when I want to use my stylus. The great thing is all of these programs are free, so why not download all three and see what you like?

I hope you have enjoyed this hub. Have a favorite note app for Linux? Let everyone know about it in the comments section below.

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Comments 4 comments

alex 3 years ago

1. Register yourself on skydrive and use One Note at any OS (Linux, Mac, Windows, etc).

2. All you need is only Internet connection and Web Browser.

3. Make your own One Note and use it for your pleasure. (I did try to upload One Note from my desktop, but it doesn't work)

PS. Do not forget, you can paste in One Note only using Ctrl+V keys, mouse doesn't work.

and you'll get 7GB free space on skydrive.com

Alex


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AJReissig 3 years ago from New Richmond, Ohio Author

Your method would work, but I try to avoid Microsoft products whenever possible.


hojjat 2 years ago

I like rednotebook, fast, easy, tag, calendar, format....


Patrizio 11 months ago

If you like plain text notes with markdown support I can also recommend QOwnNotes (http://www.qownnotes.org) in combination with ownCloud (https://owncloud.org/). And there are software repositories for Ubuntu, openSUSE and Fedora, as well as packages for OS X and Windows. ;)

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