I am setting up a computer to serve as a single-purpose, distraction-free word processor. Since my writing needs are very simple, a curses-based application like WordStar (a really old word processor for text-based displays) would be sufficient.

Are there any clones of WordStar for Linux console?

  • It would help if you described your prior research and what your findings were, along with what you've tried and why it was inadequate. Commented May 6, 2021 at 11:59

4 Answers 4


If you are strictly interested specifically in WordStar clones, there’s WordTsar. If other “simple” programs are acceptable, you might want to consider a Markdown editor like Typora. I’ve used Typora on Windows, and find it useful, though limited; if you need control over e.g., the font and margins, Typora isn’t for you.

I can’t speak to WordTsar; when I was working on DOS-based computers back longer ago than I care to admit, I absolutely hated WordStar, and avoided it whenever possible (my word processor of choice was Microsoft Word for DOS, beginning with version 1.1, and sticking with it right up through version 6).


If you are not particularly looking specifically for a WordStar-like application, there are many simple editors for Unix, many of them specific to text editing (where you don't get features like bold, italics etc) but even then you can use something like Markdown, ReST, HTML, or TeX to produce common formatting by using simple markup (or not so simple, in the case of TeX).

A common beginner editor for the console is nano; more full-fledged popular ones are vi / vim (including clones like NeoVIM etc) and Emacs (both of which can be run in a GUI as well).

These days, Microsoft's VS Code is getting a lot of attention, though it requires a GUI.


I would suggest Org-mode via Emacs. Though it was initially designed as an organiser/to-do list, its use as a word processor is really good. Strictly speaking, it is a simple mark-up language closer to Markdown, AsciiDOC, ReText etc. It has a lot of capabilities from the simple markup (bold, italics, underline, strikethrough), to headers, footers, footnotes, tables. insertion of diagrams and images if needed. The syntax is typical of a simple markup language:

* Section

** Subsection

  *** Subsubsection

   *bold*, /italic/, _underline_, ~strikethrough~, ^superscript, _subscript, [[fn: footnote]], etc. 

It exports to *.odt, *.tex, *.pdf, *.md, *.html

In a sense the outcome is quite portable, and the file is essentially a text file saved as *.org which could be viewed with a command like cat or cat file.org | less.

If you are used to WordStar in particular, then possibly WordTsar or WordGrinder would be of help.

  • 1
    Calling Emacs a "WordStar clone" is pretty far off the mark. To a rough approximation, pencil and paper would be similarly close to what the OP probably wants. (I'm an avid Emacs user myself; it's certainly worth a try if you are looking for something different, for remarkably many values of "something different.")
    – tripleee
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 10:31
  • Probably avoid the useless use of cat
    – tripleee
    Commented Mar 8, 2023 at 10:33

Indeed: joe is pretty common to install. Only text mode and has several "incarnations", as you can see here. Wordstar is one of them (jstar). Even just running joe is close enough to Wordstar.

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