by on May.22, 2008, under Linux

NEdit is a multi-purpose text editor for the X Window System, which combines a standard, easy to use, graphical user interface with the thorough functionality and stability required by users who edit text eight hours a day.  It provides intensive support for development in a wide variety of languages, text processors, and other tools, but at the same time can be used productively by just about anyone who needs to edit text.”  Features include:

  • Very complete functionality. NEdit is the primary editor for thousands of Unix and VMS programmers.
  • Thorough consistency with Motif, MS Windows, and Macintosh conventions.
  • Designed for intensive use: keystroke efficiency, fast response time, streamlined interaction.
  • Unlimited undo.
  • True multi-window, fully graphical design.
  • Mouse-based editing.
  • Secondary/quick action selections.
  • Fully integrated rectangular selection.
  • Interactive WYSIWYG dragable selections.
  • Maximum compatibility with X, Motif, and inter-client protocols, for interaction with the widest possible range of X programs and systems.
  • Easy to learn: just point and type.
  • Capabilities are clearly organized and presented in top-level menus.
  • Comprehensive on-line help.
  • No special knowledge of X Windows required, all important options are GUI-settable within the program.
  • State of the art syntax highlighting with built-in patterns for C, C++, Java, Ada, FORTRAN, Pascal, Yacc, Perl, Python, Tcl, Csh, Awk, HTML, LaTeX, VHDL, Verilog, and more.
  • Auto-indent, programmable language-sensitive smart-indent.
  • Block indentation adjustment.
  • Parenthesis flashing and matching.
  • Find lines directly from compiler error output.
  • Tab emulation.
  • Unix ctags support.
  • Client/Server mode for integration with software development tools.
  • Programmable: Learn / Replay.
  • Easy to use C-like macro language, safe and fully interruptable.
  • Includes a library of over 150 built-in editing functions.

See the online documentation and the Wiki for more information.

NEdit is the most powerful and induitive editor that I have found that is available for all of the different types of systems that I use (Linux, Solaris, Windows, etc).  The interface is somewhat dated due to its Motif-based GUI, but there are ways to improve its looks and customize the interface.

In Linux, NEdit can have difficulties when trying to make use of the resident Motif libraries.  In particular, the GNU lesstif implementation causes a number of problems that lead to frustration.  This version is linked against OpenMotif which tends to fair much better.  The current stable 5.5 version is quite old and running into problems the more recent XOrg servers, glibc locales, etc.  Many of these issues seem to be fixed in CVS, so I am offering a CVS snapshot of the upcoming 5.6 release here.


Here is the latest CVS snapshot:

If you are using Debian Etch, you will find that the OpenMotif libraries are missing from the release.  You will need to install these backports:

Changes in these packages from original Source

  • Added proper GNOME/KDE/OpenDesktop desktop and MIME integration.
  • Created wrapper scripts to launching NEdit safely and also to the background.
  • Added some shell prompt shortcuts.
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