I need an app suitable to making notes while working on my programming research projects. I want it to have folding (aka collapse and expand) capabilities, because my notes are large (I keep track of everything, including long outputs of commands). Also my notes contain many graphical illustrations(that I currently draw in inkscape). MS Word seem to have everything I need, but it's a pain to get it running on Linux. I tried code editors, they have folding, but keeping notes without images and different font styles isn't comfortable (I want at least have different styles for code snippets and plain text). I've also tried outlining apps such as dynalist and CheckVist, but they don't provide a good backup solution, and I don't want my notes to be vendor locked-in. Any ideas?

in short:

  • no vendor lock-in
  • works on Linux
  • has support of different font styles
  • can fold text (aka collapse and expand)
  • supports illustrations (preferably in vector format)

I see that markdown format covers all my needs. Maybe you know markdown WYSISYG editor with folding support?

  • 1
    QOwnNotes should come pretty close to that. Not exactly wysiwyg, but has a "live preview". Is cross-platform, and not to heavy. You might wish to take a look at it.
    – Izzy
    Mar 25, 2020 at 20:11
  • CudaText editor has support for Markdown lexer, and has the plugin "Insert Pics" which allows to embed pictures into text files (they are saved in the helper file, of course).
    – RProgram
    Mar 26, 2020 at 8:13
  • Are you looking only for installable software, or would a web application be also good?
    – Axx
    Mar 31, 2020 at 12:32
  • @Axx Web application is good if I can download all my notes from it, in a format that I can read offline.
    – Arqwer
    Apr 1, 2020 at 13:58
  • You may try Typora, a markdown editor with a real live preview feature
    – Damien
    Apr 19, 2021 at 9:44

4 Answers 4


It sounds like you're looking for Org mode (website, quickstart, manual). Org mode runs inside Emacs, but it's practically a world of its own. Emacs is a free, cross-platform text editor with facilities to display formatted text and images.

no vendor lock-in

Org mode source files are plain text. If you look at them in another text editor, the fancy stuff won't work (e.g. references to images will appear as the name of the file containing the image), but all the text will still be decently readable.

works on linux

Just install your distribution's Emacs package. Org mode comes bundled. Org mode is also available as a separate package, but this is only useful if you're a power user who wants the latest features.

has support of different font styles

I want at least have different styles for code snippets and plain text

Org mode supports simple inline text formatting. Furthermore, it has advanced support for code snippets, which it shows in a different font, and can evaluate and export to files automatically.

can fold text (aka collapse and expand)

This is basic functionality. Start a first-level headline with *, a second-level headline with **, etc. Press Tab to cycle through making the current subtree fully expanded, fully collapsed, or showing one sublevel only. See the manual for more details.

supports illustrations (preferably in vector format)

Org mode itself doesn't do illustrations (it won't replace Inkscape), but you can insert a reference to an image file and tell it to display images inline.

org-babel allows to include many text based image descriptions like plantuml or even any other tool that creates images (e.g. R) or text (here is a great example for writing consistent technical documentation).


Free LibreOffice is a good alternative to the entire Microsoft Office suite. Writer, part of the LibreOffice suite, is similar to MS Word, so if you're accustomed to Word, Writer would require little change in your current practices. In addition, Writer can open and save documents in many formats, including various versions of Word's .DOC and .DOCX.

Though you can download and install LibreOffice in Debian and RPM format from the site above, many versions of Linux support LibreOffice installation through their package management system, e.g. the Ubuntu or Gnome Software apps.

Manual Ubuntu 16 installation in terminal:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:libreoffice/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install libreoffice


I would suggest Zim or CherryTree. They are suitable for large text organisation.


GNU texmacs maybe? It does everything, images, formatting, code snippets, execution of code snippets, plus folding is documented here.

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