The next level up from debating which is the best Linux desktop is debating which is the best shell. Bash is often the default, and for most of us, there's seldom a reason to try anything else. It's perfect for all kinds of tasks, from editing text to manipulating files. But there are many other shells that can be more helpful when you have more specific or technical requirements. Zsh is a very popular option, for example, because it expands on Bash's capabilities and can use a very helpful plugin system, often used by developers to streamline their workflow. Upterm is another and newer alternative, but one that's on the cutting edge of features whilst possibly being of most use to command-line beginners. Running atop Electron from the Node.js package manager, Upterm is never going to replace the standard Linux default running on your freshly booted server's framebuffer, but it may help if you spend a lot of time on the command line from the desktop.

Upterm describes itself as both a terminal emulator and an interactive shell. The interactive part is the first thing you notice. As you type cd to change directory, all the possibilities magically appear like a Google autosuggestion. This is really useful and potentially more user-friendly than having to press the Tab key to get the same list, but it also lists command arguments and, most impressively, the single sentence includes text hints for most arguments. This means that Upterm helps with both navigation and how you use the tools you want to type, which is ideal for beginners or for those of us who forget the command-line nuances of git or vim.

Project Website

If you need some help learning command-line commands and syntax, Upterm will give you hints every step of the way.

Text editor


Yes, there are many, many text editors for Linux. Almost as many as there are performance-monitoring tools, although we've been unable to find a link between the two. But it's also true that there isn't a Linux equivalent to the venerable Notepad++ on Windows. Nano gets close, but it requires you to use the command line, making Nano not the easiest editor to use. There's also the aging Gedit, but now there's Textosaurus, which aims to be a new desktop equivalent. Thanks to being built on both Qt and the Scintilla text editing framework, it's completely cross-platform, so it can even replace Notepad++ on Windows as well as it does on Linux. It even features a very similar layout and design.

To help with its cross-platform credentials, it uses UTF-8 internally, so your text should remain legible whatever platform or locale you're using, and many input encodings are supported. It also features menu options to convert end-of-line characters into something that works, which is often still a problem when working with text files generated in Windows. The syntax highlighting looks fantastic and will even print, while the UI remains very easy to use. You can move parts of the UI around, as you can with many KDE apps, but Qt and the bundled Scintilla are the only dependencies. There are lots of small utility functions too, such as a menu full of MIME tools, JSON beautifying, and Markdown preview. You'll also find advanced features, such as being able to record and play back macros, multiple cursor editing, and ligatures (special characters replacing multiple characters, such as "&"). Textosaurus feels like a lot of toolbox text functionality bundled into a fast and efficient text editor, which is perfect if you need the same editor on multiple platforms.

Project Website

Textosaurus runs on both Windows and Linux and is packed full of features, although we're not sure why you'd use Invert Text.

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