I am on the hunt for software options that may have gotten drowned out in my google searches by emacs, vim, and wordgrinder to use as a word processor in a Raspbian Terminal environment.

The goal has been to have a 'minimal distraction' writing environment running on a lightweight raspberry pi configured with little else. A little portable laptop that I can't easily "wander away from what I'm doing" because it never gets configured for things like checking email or browsing the web.

[And working on this project totally hasn't been used as procrastination from actually writing...]

Key Requirements:

  • Must run natively in a linux command line environment. [System will not boot into a GUI/Windowed environment.]
  • Must not rely on any closed encoding for file storage, not worried about extra markup/down added to the files, but ideally would want to be able to extract my information with a standard text editor.
  • Plays nicely with a portrait monitor.

Nice to haves:

  • Robust Spell Check with easy to configure custom dictionaries. [Different projects will draw on different technical jargon, sci-fi/fantasy, etc, and I would rather not cross pollute projects.]
  • File Switching/Grouping controls for jumping between docs and maintaining organization of 'open stuff', while being able to move the whole process into the background as a single instance.
  • Wiki-Like data organization for keeping track of notes.

Existing software opinions:

vim/emacs tends to feel like it has too much fluff in the UI to work through, or I end up tinkering with configs more than writing.

wordgrinder has a few quirks so far, with one of the biggest being lack of tab, and keeping data entry awkwardly in the 'middle' of the screen. [Which kind of negates the use of a portrait monitor when the software insists on not using much of it, given that the majority of my writing is appending to file rather than editing.]

Thanks for any leads.

  • Not sure if its lightweight enough for this, but could try Scrivener on Linux? Jul 24, 2019 at 3:35
  • 1
    I recently found out about Software recs.SE, maybe they could help?
    – tryin
    Jul 24, 2019 at 5:50
  • 1
    @AdamJLimbert: That would violate the requirement of no GUI.
    – celtschk
    Jul 24, 2019 at 6:18
  • Emacs has too much fluff? I...I don't know what to say to that. I used it for years, long past the time that pretty much everybody else had pretty graphics available. I read my email via telnet into a UNIX shell and only emacs would do. It meets all your requirements as far as I can tell. This is in a comment because I'm not giving you an answer...you've rejected emacs, which is your right (even if it's the best non-GUI editor ever, not that I'm biased).
    – Cyn
    Jul 26, 2019 at 4:13

2 Answers 2


I personaly prefer in the command line text editor "joe". It works nicely in raspbian, and it is very easy to use. If you keep forgeting keystrokes, just remember: ctrl-k-h and help appears.

apt-get install joe

NaNo editor


It handles text files.

It runs natively in Linux, and it has a prettier interface compared to vim.

It can also do spell checking after installing 'spell'.

It has a GNU licence

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.