I am going to collect documents/assets of several types (webpages, PDFs, pictures, videos) that I want to be able to manage.

Some of those documents are a single file (e.g. PDF), some may span several files (e.g. a saved webpage) and in the latter case I want to administer the document as one entity, rather than just a set of files.

I want to be able to attach metadata to the documents (in particular tags, but also other informations (essentially key-value pairs).

It must run on Linux and be open-source and it should be "hackable", i.e., I would prefer a solution based on a scripting language rather than something compiled.

Ideally everything would be file-based rather than using a database but that is not a strict requirement.

Any recommendations?

  • Welcome to Software Recommendations! Have you checked with similar, already answered requests – and if so, was there nothing that fits? Just a pointer while you're waiting for answers :)
    – Izzy
    Commented Oct 8, 2015 at 10:15

2 Answers 2


It's is pretty unexpected but emacs will serve.

You need emacs and some plugins for it:

  • emacs : extremely hackable UI environment that uses lisp dialect
  • bookmark plus : let you organize files, tag them and so on
  • dired plus : to work with files, move, copy, and so on
  • sunrise commander : feature rich two-panel file manager
  • avfs : FUSE for looking inside archives - sunrise commander supports it

It runs on linux, it is hackable and works without RDBMS. Bookmark+ features tags as well as attributes holding arbitrary EmacsLisp objects as values. It also allows to tag entire directories or specific region in a text.

If you decide to use emacs consider some utility plugins that would ease working with emacs

  • icicles : improved minibuffer completion compatible with bookmark+
  • mouse3 mouse+ : mouse menu
  • help-macro+ help+ help-fns+ help-mode+ info+ : make help system user friendly
  • second-sel : two separate copy/paste buffers
  • magit : everything is better with distributed VCS
  • framemove buffer-move : move between buffers (subwindows) with arrow keys
  • helm : add useful menus

See more info on emacs wiki


You might try Zotero. It does all that you require in that it acts as a collection manager, it is cross-platform and is (I think) hackable.

It comes with plugins for the major browsers so you can save webpages, pdfs directly to the collection. Files can be uploaded from your harddrive as well. And files can be tagged, added to folders and subfolder etc.

FInally, it is written in Javascript I think and so seems hackable. Certainly there are variants out there (I'm thinking Juris-M) that suggest a capacity to reconfigure the software.

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