My favorite open source alternatives to Notion

There are lots of useful open source note-taking tools out there. Standard Notes and Trilium are designed with your data as the top priority.
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If you have notes to yourself scattered throughout your hard drive, you might need a notes application to collect and organize your personal reminders. A notes system can help you track ideas, important tasks, and works in progress. A popular application that isn't open source is Notion, but here are two options that respect your privacy and data.

Standard Notes

Standard Notes is an open source (AGPL 3.0 license) notes application featuring a password manager, a to-do list, and, of course, a great system for writing and storing notes.

One of the most important things about taking notes is finding them again, so organization is critical. Standard Notes uses an intuitive and natural tagging system to help you organize your content. You assign hashtags to each note to classify it.

Standard Notes is extensible through plug-ins. There are plug-ins for LaTeX, Markdown, code snippets, spreadsheets, and more. There's even an option to publish to a blogging platform, should you want to make some of your notes public.

Standard Notes

(Amir Gandhi, CC BY-SA 4.0)

Standard Notes also boasts numerous backup options, including email and cloud services. Furthermore, Standard Notes can work on any platform, including Linux, Windows, macOS, and Chrome OS.

Self-hosting Standard Notes

Standard Notes can be self-hosted. The developers provide a script that runs the application in a container, making it to run almost anywhere. If you've yet to explore containers, then you can get up to speed with's introduction to running applications in containers.

Another option is to use the hosted version provided by Standard Notes.

The development of Standard Notes can be followed on its Git repository.


Trilium is a notes application that visually resembles Notion in many ways. It can handle various data types, including images, tables, to-do lists, highlighting, mind maps, flowcharts, family trees, code blocks, and more.

Trilium has several mechanisms to help you organize both your thoughts and your notes. You can view a history of recent changes, a global map of all your notes, note categories, or you can search for notes and contents.

Trilium demo

(Amir Gandhi, CC BY-SA 4.0)

You can install Trilium as a Flatpak from Flathub, or you can install it on your own server as a container. Alternatively, you can use Trilium's hosted instance.

Take note

There are plenty of useful note-taking applications in the open source world, and both Standard Notes and Trilium are designed with your data as the top priority. You can import and export data from these applications, so it's safe to try them out. You'll always have access to your data, so give Standard Notes or Trilium a try.

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A photo of Amar, circa 2019
I am passionate about open source software and hardware, because of the Verge, my main influences include Dieter Bohn formerly of the Verge and how they tackled privacy and security concerns surrounding big technology.


I highly recommend checking out Logseq and Anytype as well. They are fantastic alternatives.

I recently went through a process researching a good FOSS alternative to Notion as I use it daily but also hate how locked down it is.

I ended up choosing Logseq though it didn't quite have all the features I use (like databases). But I found a number of good candidates: Athens, TiddlyRoam, Zettlr, Simple note, Joplin.

I had a real focus on bidirectional linking and the concept of the Zettlekasten method as I feel that idea works well with how I think but even outside of that there's a number of great options.

Found a number of options that are not yet quite ready for prime time as it were, the most promising one I found was Affine which is a collaborative system that allows for linear block-based notes (like Notion) that can also be viewed as a kanban board (on arbitrary fields for grouping) and a whiteboard (like miro).

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