gedit Definition

gedit is the official text editor of the GNOME desktop environment.

A text editor is a program developed primarily for writing and editing plain text. Plain text refers to any string (i.e., finite sequence of characters) that consists entirely of printable characters (i.e., human readable characters) and, optionally, a very few specific types of control characters (e.g., characters indicating a tab or the start of a new line).

Text editors are distinguished from word processors in that they do not manage document formatting or other features commonly used in desktop publishing. Major applications include writing and modifying system configuration files and source code (i.e., the initial version of programs as written by a human in a programming language).

A desktop environment is a type of software that is designed to provide an advanced graphical user interface (GUI) in which all application programs have the same look and feel, interact seamlessly with each other and even have similar menus to the extent possible. GNOME (GNU Network Object Model Environment) is one of the two main desktop environments on Linux and other Unix-like operating systems; it is part of the GNU project, whose purpose is to create a complete, Unix-like and freely distributable computing environment.

While emphasizing simplicity and ease of use, gedit also provides numerous useful functions, including full support for internationalized text through UTF-8 (eight-bit Unicode Transformation Format), configurable syntax highlighting for various programming languages (C, C++, Java, HTML, XML, Python, Perl, etc.), multiple (and user configurable) levels of undo and redo, print preview and printing support, clipboard support (cut, copy and paste), search and replace, text wrapping, automatic indentation, line numbering, current line highlighting, bracket matching, automatic creation of backup files, right margins, configurable fonts and colors, and a complete online user manual.

Also featured is complete GNOME integration, including support for drag and drop with Nautilus (the GNOME file manager), the use of the GNOME virtual file system, use of the GNOME printing framework and integration into the GNOME help system.

gedit also features also a flexible plug-in system which can be used to dynamically add such functions as spelling checking, sorting, case changing, document statistics (e.g., as counting lines, words, characters with spaces, characters without spaces, and bytes in the current file), indentation (adding or removing it in selected lines), tag insertion, and automatic date and time insertion.

Most users usually start gedit in a GUI by clicking on an icon or selecting a menu item. However, it can also be started from the command line (i.e., all-text mode) by merely entering the following command and then pressing the ENTER key:


gedit can open an existing text file by using the name of the file as an argument (i.e., input data) with the gedit command. If a file with that name does not exist, gedit will create it. For example, the following would open a file named file1 in the current directory (i.e., the directory in which the user is currently working), or create a file with that name in the current directory if it did not already exist:

gedit file1

gedit can be used together with pipes, which transfer the output of one program to another program for use as an input and which are represented by the vertical bar character. For example, the output from the ls command (which by default lists the contents of the current directory) can be piped to gedit as follows and results in the opening of a gedit window that contains the output from ls:

ls -l | gedit

An additional gedit window can be opened by using gedit's --new-window option:

gedit --new-window

The --version option shows the current version of gedit. As of June 2006, the latest stable release was 2.14.3.

kedit is the default text editor for KDE (K Desktop Environment), the other main Linux desktop environment. gedit can generally operate on the KDE desktop, and kedit can operate on the GNOME desktop.

gedit's home page is

Created June 27, 2006.
Copyright © 2006 The Linux Information Project. All Rights Reserved.