Atom Text Editor For Linux (Features Review + Installation)

atom text editor for linux

On the surface, Atom is the modern desktop text editor you’ve come to expect. Pop the hood, however, and you’ll discover a system begging to be hacked on.

How To Install Atom Text Editor?

To get started with Atom, we’ll need to get it on your system.
Installing Atom should be fairly simple. Generally, you can go to https://atom.io and at the top of the page, you should see a download button where you can download a Debian package or RPM package either from the main Atom website or from the Atom project releases page. These packages do not currently have auto-update features, so when you would like to upgrade to a new release of Atom, you will have to repeat this installation process.

Install Atom On Debian Linux Based Distros

To install Atom on Debian, Ubuntu, or related systems:

Install Atom –

sudo dpkg -i atom-amd64.deb
Install the Atom’s dependencies if they are missing –
sudo apt-get -f install

Install Atom Text Editor On Red Hat & Derivative Distros

To install Atom on CentOS, Oracle Linux, RedHat Enterprise Linux, Scientific Linux or related systems that use the yum package manager:
sudo yum install -y atom.x86_64.rpm

Install Atom Text Editor On Fedora & Derivative Distros

To download and install the latest release of Atom on Fedora or other systems that use the DNF package manager:
sudo dnf install -y atom.x86_64.rpm
To download and install the latest release of Atom on openSUSE or other systems that use the Zypp package manager:
sudo zypper in -y atom.x86_64.rpm

Atom Text Editor Features At A Glance

When you launch Atom for the first time, you should get a screen that looks like this. The welcome screen gives a pretty good starting point for how to get started with Atom editor.

atom features at a glance

Command Palette

In that welcome screen, we are introduced to probably the most important command in Atom, the Command Palette. If you press Ctrl+Shift+P while focused in an editor pane, the command palette will pop up. This search-driven menu can do just about any major task that is possible in Atom. Instead of clicking around all the application menus to look for something, you can press Ctrl+Shift+P and search for the command.

atom text editor command palette

Settings And Preferences

Atom has a number of settings and preferences you can modify in the Settings View. his includes things like changing the theme, specifying how to handle wrapping, font settings, tab size, scroll speed and much more. You can also use this screen to install new packages and themes.

atom settings and preferences

Packages

Atom editor is very basic at the core, nonetheless, there are over 90 packages shipped with Atom editor by default. Right from the start, the welcome screen, the spell checker and Fuzzy finder are some packages that ship with Atom.

Packages are an incredibly powerful part of Atom. With packages, you can change everything forms the interface to the basic operation of the Atom editor. You can add themes with the command palette or with the Install tab in Settings. You can easily search for a package and install by clicking on the “Install” button by the package.

install packages in atom text editor

Once a package is installed, it will show up in the Settings View under the “Packages” tab. You may change some of the default variables that are available for the package. You choose from thousands of open source packages that add new features and functionality to Atom—or build a package from scratch and publish it for everyone else to use.

Customization & Themes

It’s easy to customize and style Atom. You can tweak the look and feel of your UI with CSS/Less and add major features with HTML and JavaScript. There is also a high selection of themes that are available for installation. Themes can be installed from the Settings view just like the installation of your packages. Just make sure to press the “Themes” toggle next to the search box. You may click on the theme title which will take you to the theme homepage to take a look at a screenshot of the theme. After installing the theme, it will be available for use in the settings.

atom customization and themes

Changing The Theme

The Settings View also lets you change the themes for Atom. By default, Atom ships with 4 different UI themes, dark and light variants of the Atom and One theme, as well as 8 different syntax themes. You can modify the active theme or install new themes by clicking on the Themes tab in the sidebar of the Settings View. The UI themes control the style of UI elements like the tabs and the tree view, while the syntax themes control the syntax highlighting of text you load into the editor. To change the syntax or UI theme, simply pick something different in the appropriate drop down list.

install theme in atom text editor

There are also dozens of themes on Atom themes that you can choose from if you want something different. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, you can also install themes created by the Atom community or create your own.

Final Thoughts

There are a ton of features that are available with Atom editor that has not been detailed in this post. There is File Switching, and Atom CLI tool to open files or folders, multi-selection, markdown live preview, Tab switching and a host of others. Atom is highly extensible with regards to packages and theming, it has an active community, the design & usability of the editor is spot on for the experienced hacker or the beginner and it is completely open source. On the other side, Sublime can be slow especially with startup and it can’t quite handle larger file sizes well.

Conclusion

Like I mentioned earlier, some people prefer editors that are simple and straightforward like Nano. Others, especially developers prefer powerful editors such as Vi or Emacs. But for those who prefer to have a handy GUI, Atom is definitely worth looking at. It offers both a simple but capable GUI and the power for hardcore editors. Atom is a text editor that’s modern, approachable, yet hackable to the core—a tool you can customize to do anything but also use productively without ever touching a config file.

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