5 note-taking apps for Linux

Use these open source tools for jotting down notes.
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Notes are part of any writer's life. Most of my articles begin in a note-taking application and that’s usually Joplin for me. There are a large number of note-taking apps for Linux and you may use something other than my favorite. A recent blog article reminded me of a half dozen of them, so I assembled a list of my favorites.



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Joplin is available on Linux, Windows, macOS, Android, and iOS. I like Joplin because it automatically saves whatever you add to it. Notes can be uploaded to NextCloud, OwnCloud, Joplin Cloud, and even closed source services like OneDrive, Dropbox, or any WebDav applications. Joplin supports encryption.

It’s easy to export notes in a variety of formats, too. It comes with eight different themes that allow you to tailor its look.

Joplin has an MIT license. Initially released in 2017 Joplin is under continuous development with a large community of contributors.



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Xournal is available on Linux, Windows, macOS, and Android. Its aim is to let you create notes containing nearly any media type you can imagine. It supports pressure-sensitive stylus and drawing tablets so you create sketchnotes. You can type into it, draw simple vectors, import graphics, record audio, and more. You can also use Xournal to annotate PDFs, which is how I have used it. It is released with a GPLv2 license, and you can export notes in a variety of formats.



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Trillium is a hierarchical note-taking application with a focus on knowledge building bases. It features rich WYSIWYG editing with tables, images, and markdown. It has support for editing notes in source code with syntax highlighting. It's released under the Gnu Affero License.

Trilium is available as a desktop application for Linux and Windows, as well as a web application that you can host on your own Linux server.



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Gnote is an open source note taking application written for Linux. It was cloned by Hubert Figuière from a project called Tomboy. Like Tomboy, Gnote uses a wiki-like linking system to allow you to link notes together.

GNote's source code is available on GitLab. The software is licensed with GPLv3.



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CherryTree supports hierarchical note-taking. In CherryTree everything is a node. Nodes can be plain text, rich text, syntax highlighting for a variety of programming languages. Each node can have child nodes each with a different format.

CherryTree features rich text and syntax highlighting, and can store data in a single XML or SQLite file. CherryTree can import from a variety of formats including Markdown, HTML, plain text, Gnote, Tomboy, and others. It can export files to PDF, HTML, plain text and its own CherryTree format.

CherryTree is licensed under the GPLv3, and can be installed on Linux, Windows, and macOS.

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Educator, entrepreneur, open source advocate, life long learner, Python teacher. M.A. in Educational Psychology, M.S. Ed. in Educational Leadership, Linux system administrator.


Great list Don. I like Xournal, my Fedora laptop has a touch screen and I do use the stylus to write and draw in Xournal occasionally.

I would also mention Obsidian.

In my opinion an amazing note taking app and knowlege base management.

Whats great :
- simple markdown syntax
- map of the notes relations between each other
- many pluggins
- huge community
- On all platforms

Their website to take a look : https://obsidian.md/

Thanks Don for some reason I've not bothered or never looked at Joplin before and have to say this is a really great app! I was using a paid note taking app that was starting to really frustrate me and everything Joplin does works so well and it's very easy to use.

I'd also add Zim to the list

- works on many platforms
- uses plain text (markdown like) storage formats but front end has a wysiwyg interface
- auto saves
- wiki like linking
- very easy to use

How about Emacs Org-Mode? :P

It's worth noting that it has a TUI mode, unlike the tools above, so even problems with a graphic server or connecting to the machine via SSH are not an obstacle for making and accessing quick notes. Surely most of the tools use some plain text format underneath which can be viewed and edited by arbitrary tools, but having a reliable plain-text first format is better for the matter.

Joplin actually has a sophisticated teminal mode that shells out to your favorite editor. There’s a nice discussion here: https://randomgeekery.org/post/2021/04/joplin-terminal-basics/

In reply to by bodqhrohro

There are several other note-taking apps that I've found that work cross-platform

- QOwnNotes
- StandardNotes
- UpNote

Right now, my leading candidates are Obsidian and UpNote. But that might change tomorrow!

Yes, definitely QOwnNotes!

The maintainer responds very fast and updates frequently. There are install instructions for many Linux distros (even BSD) as well for snap, flatpak and also AppImage (even Windows is supported).

In reply to by clbrooks97

I'd add TiddlyWiki - and.... I'd be really interested in a few more details about implementation. I'd really like to find a single-page webapp that works like Joplin

Why a couple mentions of Tomboy, but no review, or at least a more detailed reason why you'd reference Tomboy, but not review it?

You've really put together a good list, Mr. Don.
I congratulate you.
But I haven't started using a note taking app yet. I will use this list if I need it one day. Thank you.

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