Best Free Linux GUI Code Editors for Programming

6 Best Free Linux GUI Code Editors for Programming

This article presents an overview of the six best GUI code editors for Linux that are feature-rich and suitable for every programmer’s needs.

A code editor is a must-have tool for each developer. Fortunately, Linux has many of these that are entirely free to use.

This list strives to bring you the six best ones based on our own experience with them. But before we begin, we should clarify that we are presenting you with the best GUI (Graphical User Interface) code editors.

The terminal-based ones, such as Vim, Micro, Nano, and so on, are outside the scope of this review and will be covered in a separate one.

1. Sublime Text

Sublime Text

Sublime Text tops our rankings for a good reason. The editor combines all of the qualities required to make it the best code editor for Linux – it is lightweight, easy to use, has a modern look, and is rich in features.

Of course, Sublime Text includes all the features you’d expect from a modern code editor, such as autocompletion, syntax highlighting, code folding, etc.

Furthermore, it natively supports a few dozen programming languages and notifies you of real-time parsing errors.

However, one of the Sublime Text’s strengths is that it provides users with many customization options. In addition, the easily integrated Package Manager enables users to find, install, update, and delete plugins straight from within the editor – usually without the need for a restart.

The editor is available for free download, but after the evaluation period, you need to purchase a license to continue using it. However, fortunately, there is no time limit for evaluation.

In other words, you can use it without a license. But, of course, we encourage you to support its developers by purchasing the required license if you have plans to use Sublime Text long-term.

Pros

  • Lightning-fast, ease of use, feature-rich
  • Powerful search
  • Simultaneous editing
  • Screens, panels, minimap support

Cons

  • Not always beginner friendly – messing with settings and plugins requires a certain level of experience

2. Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code is the most popular Linux code editor among programmers. The heavy artillery in this list offers code editing, debugging, IntelliSense syntax highlighting, and other features.

On the surface, it looks to be a standard code editor. However, a few features push the scales in favor of Visual Studio Code. The main one is the built-in debugger, which makes the development flow smoother and provides a unified view of the code and debugger.

Moreover, another of Visual Studio Code’s main features, like that of the best coding editors, is its customizability. You can change the theme, add new languages and debuggers, and connect to other services using extensions.

Visual Studio Code is said to go beyond the boundaries of a simple code editor by bringing it much closer to an Integrated Development Environment (IDE). These characteristics place it unquestionably second on our list.

Pros

  • The most flexible and extensible coding editor
  • Comes with built-in support for web applications
  • Git integration
  • Terminal support
  • Multi-projects support

Cons

  • More resource-hungry than other similar editors
  • It can sometimes be slow

3. CudaText

CudaText

CudaText is a powerful text editor with tabs, syntax highlighting, plugins, an image viewer, and other features. It is an excellent general-purpose text editor and a powerful, feature-rich programmer’s editor.

CudaText includes most of the features required to work with source code, such as code completion, code folding, snippets, a project tree, etc. At the same time, it supports a vast number of plugins and themes. Furthermore, because CudaText has only a few dependencies, it starts quickly.

The editor is highly customizable, thanks to plugins. In fact, this is how much of CudaText’s existing functionality is implemented. The plugin manager, like Sublime Text, allows users to install, update, configure, and remove plugins.

In conclusion, CudaText excels as a general-purpose text editor while also shining as a programmer’s code editor.

Pros

  • It’s light and powerful for its size
  • Plugin “Options Editor” to configure CudaText via simple GUI
  • Has the Macros plugin (3rd party)

Cons

  • To change a setting, the user must edit the configuration file
  • Because it does not utilize 3D acceleration for rendering, it may use a lot of CPU
  • It doesn’t provide a “Go to anything” command

4. CodeLite

CodeLite

CodeLite is an open-source, cross-platform IDE that specializes in the programming languages C, C++, Rust, Python, PHP, and JavaScript.

It has a source code editor, project management, code refactoring, source browsing, syntax highlighting, subversion integration, and other valuable features.

On top of that, CodeLite has several code completion engines that can be used concurrently to help developers do more work quickly.

You also get a debugger, much like in Visual Studio Code. The debugger performs well, providing watch, stack, threads, steps, and everything else you would expect it to do.

Pros

  • When compared to other IDEs, the speed of operation is faster.
  • Simple and easy-to-use interface
  • Interactive debugger

Cons

  • Does not let you automatically choose the language for you
  • Perhaps improved integration with debuggers

5. Geany

Geany

Geany is a small, reliable, lightweight code editor for programmers that offers many essential features. Unfortunately, it lacks the range of advanced capabilities found in the preceding entries on this list, but it is excellent at what it does.

In other words, you may expect all of the essential features for comprehensive code editing, such as folding, syntax highlighting, and code completion, as well as ease and speed of operation.

In Geany, you’ll find a file browser, the ability to export to many formats, a class builder for several formats, various saving actions, a split window interface, and more. So, if you are looking for something similar to Notepad++ for Linux, this is probably the app you want.

Pros

  • Light and fast
  • A quick search on large files
  • Built-in plugin manager and terminal

Cons

  • Not many third-party plugins
  • Lack of some advanced features
  • Not enough user-friendly

6. Bluefish

Bluefish

Bluefish is the latest offering in our list of the best code editors for Linux. It is a “veteran” among the others, dating back to 1997, and well known to senior Linux users.

Today, Bluefish has an extended long range of capabilities, including auto-recovery, full-screen editing, multiple-document interface, and customized programming language support.

Its main goal is to be a general-purpose HTML code editor, but it also supports many other programming languages – for example, PHP, Python, JavaScript, etc.

Unfortunately, Bluefish doesn’t have any advanced features, but it’s a good alternative if you want a simple code editor that goes above the limits of text editors.

Pros

  • Easy and straightforward to use

Cons

  • Bit dated UI
  • Lack of many advanced features

Conclusion

Yes, I know. There’s one significant missing in this list – Atom. In our opinion, it is among the top three best code editors for Linux, and we truly love it. Unfortunately, after GitHub announced its intention to decommission Atom on December 15, 2022, we decided not to include it in this list.

However, whichever of the above options you select, you will not be disappointed. As a starting point, we recommend that you look into Sublime Text or Visual Studio Code in the first place.

We hope we’ve helped you choose the best code editor for Linux, and we’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below. So, which is your favorite code editor?

Bobby Borisov
Bobby Borisov

Bobby is a Linux professional with over 20 years of experience. With a strong focus on Linux and open-source software, Bobby has worked as a Linux System Administrator, Software Developer, and DevOps Engineer for small and large multinational companies.

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