RIP Nedit

I have been using Nedit for many years for just about every editing need. However, a recent upgrade to Kubuntu 11.04 illustrated that Nedit was on it’s last leg and it was time to switch. RIP Nedit.


I having been using Nedit for many years for just about every editing need I have. I use for writing code (it’s really great in this aspect), and I write these articles using Nedit (I have been for a very long time). it’s really easy to use, I love the split screen capability (but you need lots of vertical space for it to be really effective), I like the ability to edit multiple files and switch between them with a tab (yes – this is an extremely common capability but many years ago this didn’t exist), and I liked the auto-indentation feature (great when writing Python code). Overall I just found it to be a great editor so I started using it full time many years ago on IRIX and continued using it on Linux.

I started to use more features in Nedit and it just became comfortable for me to use. Most people will tell you that once they find a tool that scratches their proverbial itch they are very reluctant to change. I fall into this category. My wife even makes fun of me saying that the reason I don’t switch to anything else is because I don’t like change. Sorry sweety – in this case that isn’t the correct observation. The reason I don’t switch is that it would take me a long time to learn a new tool and become as proficient on it as with Nedit. Is it worth it to go through this process expending time and effort to learn a new editor just because it’s new? It’s highly unlikely that this new tool will make me more productive than with Nedit, so why switch? Switching for the sake of switching is good in some circumstances, but I don’t think this is one of them.

So I soldiered on for many years using Nedit and it worked just great. Whomever built the packages or binaries for the various distro I used (mostly CentOS, Scientific Linux, and Kubuntu) did a great job, presumably using the Lesstif library to build Nedit since it’s built on the Motif toolkit. I didn’t look at how they built the binaries, nor did I really want to know – I was just happy to have Nedit around. And, by the way, if you reading this and you built these binaries and packages, thanks very much. Count me as a happy and very appreciative customer.

Then I upgrade my laptop to Kubuntu 11.04 and installed Nedit. Then I noticed a small problem – when I tried copying and pasting a section of text or code, it would not paste. Instead I got the following message in the terminal window:

NEdit warning:
XmClipboardInquireLength() failed: clipboard locked.

A little googling found recent post that indicates that Nedit isn’t really working on Ubuntu anymore. I’m not sure if it’s a Nedit problem or a Motif library (presumably Lesstif or OpenMotif) but the result is that Nedit no longer works for me on Kubuntu 11.04 (Note: it works fine on CentOS 5.5 and older Ubuntu versions such as 8.04, but not the more recent versions). The only solution is to save any work, exit from Nedit, and start again.

If you couple this problem with comments from my friend Joe Landman, and I had to start looking for a new editor.


I tried all kinds of editors including Kate, Kedit, geany, JuffEd, and gedit. I’m a KDE kind of guy because I really loath Gnome (and the recent interfaces haven’t made me want to use it) but then again, the whole KDE 4.0 thing was a mess and not until KDE 4.6 or so, was it useable again.

Kate was fine and I used for some work but I found the interface to be a bit clunky. The same for Kedit, although Kedit moved up my list fairly rapidly. I ended up settling on gedit.

Gedit doesn’t have all the features I want especially being able to split the window so I can see two different parts of the code at the same time, but given the choice between an editor that doesn’t really work but has all the features, and an editor that works but doesn’t have all the features, I think I’ll chose the later. This is what gedit does for me.

If you have any ideas or suggestions for visual editors please don’t hesitate to suggest something.