Choosing an Editor

A variety of text editors are available in most of the OSs mentioned previously. Word-processing software, such as, Abiword, or Microsoft Word, is not particularly suitable for programming, as these programs often make changes to the text, such as spell-checking, capitalization, formatting, and so on, which can break the script in unexpected ways. It is far better to use a plain-text editor, the most common of which you will look at here. Just because they do not add formatting to the actual file does not mean that these editors are at all lacking in powerful features; most offer syntax highlighting, and many offer further useful features for editing shell scripts as well as other text files.

Graphical Text Editors

For a graphical environment, a GUI-based editor can be easier to use. It is still vital to know how to use a nongraphical editor for situations where a GUI is not available (broken X Window system configuration, remote ssh to the server, serial access to server, and so on). However, for day-to-day use, some people find the convenience of a graphical editor to be useful.


The default GNOME text editor is gedit, normally to be found under Applications⇒ Accessories gedit Text Editor. Gedit offers basic syntax highlighting, which can be useful when checking for syntax errors in your script. It also has tabbed windows and support for different text file formats (Windows, Linux, Mac OS line breaks, and character encodings). Figure ...

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