Atom – A Superb Text Editor for Linux

πŸ“… November 24, 2017
Every once in a while, a program comes along that improves upon an essential tool so well that it becomes the new essential tool.

The humble text editor is one such essential tool for Linux, and the open-source Atom provides a plethora of features that make programming and text handling an attractive breeze to use.

“Where Can I Find Atom?”

Visit the Atom website where you will find a .deb, .rpm, or the source code itself. I installed the .deb version for Linux Mint 18.2, and it works perfectly.

Atom web site offering free downloads and tantalizing feature descriptions. Atom is cross-platform, so Mac and Windows versions are also available.


Upon launching Atom following installation, you will be greeted with the welcome tab. Everything is organized for easy understanding.

You can customize Atom to your liking. Themes can be changed by selecting from the four included themes or by installing themes created by others. Shown here is the default One Dark after installing the City Lights theme.

The One Light theme. UI and syntax themes can be changed separately to mix and match your favorite combinations. If a given theme is not to your liking, then you can edit or create your own. You can download and install themes from within Atom itself. No need to close and restart Atom.

You can use Atom like any other text editor. This includes spell-checking features. (Lorem Ipsum text is shown.)

How about programming? Shown here is a single Python file complete with syntax highlighting.

Atom is a multi-pane, multi-tabbed text editor. This permits many imaginative uses. Shown here is the same Python file in three different panes. Each pane can be scrolled independently of another. This allows you to edit different parts of the same file — useful for long scripts. Panes can be arranged as you see fit from the menu. (Press the ALT key on the keyboard to toggle the menu.) The Base16 Tomorrow Dark theme is shown here.

Same file arrangement, but with the downloadable Styri theme.

Light themes are also available. Shown here is the included One Light theme.

Settings allow you to customize Atom’s behavior.

One horizontal pane at the top with two adjacent panes at the bottom.

“What else can I do with Atom?”

Atom advertises itself as a hackable text editor that lets you customize anything you like. From the page’s description and from exploring Atom itself, this is certainly true. Don’t like a feature? Write your own. Want a new feature? Download a plugin — and there are several.

For programming, Atom is one of the best. Features, such as

  • Toggling comments
  • Search and replace
  • A folder tree pane for easy navigation
  • Integrated GitHub support
  • and much, much, much more.

This article barely delves into what is possible. I have begun to use Atom, and I have yet to tap into its full potential. Customization and ease of use is where Atom excels. It truly is an editor that you can tailor to your liking.

If you are not a coder who wants to tinker under the hood, then that is fine. All of the available features are more than most other text editors offer, and you can use them instantly. Never did it feel like Atom required a learning curve (unlike vi or emacs). Whether your project is text or code, simply run and type. If you ever become stuck, the excellent online help painlessly guides you through any questions you might have.

Despite Atom’s wealth of features, Atom is one of the easiest and best-looking text editors to use.

Highly recommended.




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