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My thoughts, exactly: where is the Linux console-based word processor?

where is the Linux console-based word processor? by jtr · command line computing - 18 January 2005, 11:14

So far I have chosen the following console apps for my month-long experiment in computing without a graphical interface:
email—> mutt
web browser—> elinks
file manager—> bash :-)
instant messaging—> centericq
image viewer—> fbi
text editor—> vim

I am still researching the following:
media player—> I am leaning toward mplayer since it can play video as well as audio.
RSS reader—> I have narrowed it down to snownews and raggle.

I spent a few hours googling for a Linux console word processor (not “text editor”) and have found exactly nothing. I need to be able to center text, underline text, change text to italics, change fonts and typefaces, and indent. I do not need fancy-schmancy features such as indexing, styles, et cetera. I just need the equivalant functionality of, say, Microsoft WordPad. How is it that there is not a console-based word processor? There were a number of them for DOS. I must say I am completely stunned that one is not to be found (at least after hours of searching). I have a copy of WordPerfect 5.1 (for DOS) that I could run in a DOS emulator, but that would be cheating since I want to limit my experiment to freely available software. Actually, I also have WordPerfect 5.1 for SCO UNIX. That, too, would be cheating. I really do not want to learn a markup language like TeX.

I am committed to this experiment for at least the next month. If, however, I cannot find a word processor (notice I did not use the adjectives “good” or “quality” – I just need one!) for the console, I will have to return to the world of X. There is some hope, however. GTK is able to run on a framebuffer without X. The claim is that a GTK program can run unmodified on a framebuffer. If I am able to get this working, my choice of word processors increases dramatically. (Uh, from zero to more than zero. :-)

I created a new article category: command line computing. For those who wish to follow this experiment and perhaps use my progress reports as a reference, you will be able to select this category to retrieve all the articles concerning it.

My next article will be about getting elinks to display images. Yes, it is possible, and yes it does work. :-)

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  1. For plain text formatting on the console, I prefer Joe. For formatted text to print, I’ve used HTML and a print.css off and on. My original complaint was the complete absence of a genuine console word processor—the idea being the app handles the formatting, etc.
    Ed Hurst    Jan 18, 01:25 PM    #
  2. I know several people that do all of there word processing in LaTeX, some are professional writers. It might be worth your while to add it to your knowledge pool.

    I’ve made elinks be graphical in X before, but not on the console.
    Topher    Jan 18, 02:11 PM    #
  3. I think I will use Joe. I do not want to use HTML for the same reason I do not want to use TeX. TeX supporters claim that by separating content from layout/formatting, writers can focus on content. How can this be when I must remember to add to the beginning of each paragraph? Obviously there is more to TeX than paragraph indicators. Plain text seems a much simpler method outside of a full WYSIWYG word processor. On the other hand, TeX is excellent for producing formatted documents. I may end up learning it after all. I wish there were a console-based TeX editor similar to LyX.
    jtr    Jan 18, 02:31 PM    #
  4. Thanks for the update. I was going to recommend an old word processor for console, but you pretty much swore that off.

    I wonder what it would take to get OOo in the framebuffer.
    Josiah Ritchie    Jan 18, 04:37 PM    #
  5. I have considered trying to OO.o working in the framebuffer since it has (is getting?) a GTK version. I will keep you updated as I go along.
    jtr    Jan 18, 09:14 PM    #