I've been looking for a while now but could not yet find a journal app that meets my needs. This is what I am looking for:

  • a journal app / note taking app for long-term usage
  • as (standalone) desktop (sugar: mobile) app
  • running (among others) on Ubuntu Linux
  • has modern user interface that supports distraction free writing
  • supports synchronization between multiple devices without my data being hosted in any third-party-cloud
  • storage and export of entries in a format that is most likely to be around in years to come (such as markdown, pdf, simple text
  • bonus: open source

I've been using 'RedNotebook'for a while now. However, this app really demotivates by an ancient and boring user interface and the lack of markdown support. Is there anything out there, that might come close to this requirements? Your hints are much appreciated.


  • AFAIR ownCloud has a Journal plugin (amongst others). A note taking plugin definitely ships with the distri (and yes, that uses Markdown). I'm just not sure concerning which mobile apps exist to be used along these lines, hence I leave this pointer only (instead posting an answer).
    – Izzy
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 18:05
  • Thanks @Izzy. I haven't dealt with ownCloud yet, to my regret. That sits on my agenda for sure. However not yet, while looking for a journal app ;).
    – Bunjip
    Commented Nov 20, 2014 at 20:34
  • RedNotebook is good, but I agree: it would be much improved by supporting markdown. Commented Sep 4, 2020 at 9:02

3 Answers 3


TiddlyWiki might suit your needs very well.

It's a note-taking web application that has many features and runs directly in your browser (offline).

  • "standalone": It's compiled in single html file that you store on your computer and run in your browser. Everything written in javascript and no internet is used.
  • "running on Ubuntu": It runs on any system that runs Firefox, in particular on Ubuntu (other browsers supported too). And it runs on Android as well. (There is also a paid version for ios which I haven't tried)
  • "distraction free writing": It's default theme contains only text that you are writing/reading. If you still not completely satisfied with it, there is a support for themes.
  • "synchronization": Synchronization is actually orthogonal to journalling/note-taking so I suggest you to use some other program to do that. For instance you can put your journal in BitTorrent Sync folder that will allow you to synchronize data without hosting them on any cloud.
  • "entries export": It supports export in several formats. In particular you can export all your notes to static html (and from there convert it to pdf) or you can export them to json and write some script to convert them to anything else.
  • "open source": Sources are hosted on GitHub.

Regarding markdown: TiddlyWiki uses it's own syntax which is very close to markdown and has similar feel but supports more features e.g. macroses. If exact markdown support is crucial for you, there is markdown plugin that allows you to write posts directly in markdown.

  • Dmitry, thanks for pointing me to TiddlyWiki. I'm going to check this out in the days to come.
    – Bunjip
    Commented Dec 24, 2014 at 13:33

Meanwhile, I found two solutions that share at least some of my original software requirements:

However, as far as I can evaluate from testing those apps, neither of them acts as a standalone (desktop) app. Nor can you configure data storage and synchronisation with any arbitrary (secure) cloud service. Instead, there are some standard services for synchronisation available, such as dropbox.


I would recommend QOwnNotes.

It's open source (GitHub repo), runs as a common desktop application, and regular releases are available on Linux, Windows and macOS. On Ubuntu 20.04, snap install qownnotes will do the job (hopefully a native package appears). It is customisable, and regularly autosaves the text files you work with (and doesn't need you to name them). Markdown is supported; including syntax highlighting for code block syntax (e.g. C++, JavaScript, CSharp). Markdown hyperlinks are clickable. Dark mode is available.

  • It's been a few years, since I asked this question. But thanks anyway, @user2023370 . Meanwhile, I've become an avid user of Joplin (joplinapp.org). This app finally represents pretty much what I had been looking for six years ago. Still, I will check out QOwnNotes.
    – Bunjip
    Commented Sep 9, 2020 at 6:32

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