Save money and gain focus using the linux command line as a wordprocessor.

Dec 24

For the life of me I cannot remember the link (nor find back the episode) to a Hacker Public Radio podcast episode that inspired me to do this post. The speaker in this little podcast talked about the way we use word processors. He mentioned a study where they compared several groups of students that were working on a paper. One of the groups used the latest version of MS Word, the other one used Libreoffice and another group used Wordperfect (The black and white command line version). When they judged the actual papers afterwards, the QUALITY of the CONTENT was the highest with the students who used … Wordperfect. It turns out, the FEWER distractions we have regarding to layout like ribbons and talking paperclips, the more our brains focus on CONTENT. The talk is highly recommended and whoever finds the link and posts it in the comments section gets extra geek points !

So, why not make our OWN version of Wordperfect using the command line interface on Linux.

Fire up a terminal and start using your favorite text editor like NANO or VIM.

When using Nano just start out by typing

nano yourfilenamehere.txt

Start typing and hit CTRL-X to save. Pretty easy. There are of course a lot more keyboard shortcuts you can use. I have linked to some posts here and here that give you all the fancy features in Nano.

If you are somebody that likes to use VIM (I’m sorry, I don’t use VIM a lot) but I have been told that VIM users are considered the Jedi among command line interface text editor users. (Now THERE is a title) You can learn the ways of the VIM-force here and here 

Spell checking !

Ok, you’ve made your document but, like me, you do tend to make the occasional typo. My excuse is I’m not a native English speaker .. whats yours ?  You can solve the problem by installing ‘ispell’

sudo apt-get install ispell  

Next up just point ispell to your textfile

ispell yourfilename.txt


Lets say your spelling is ok, but when you write stuff, you sound like master Yoda. You need diction control

sudo apt-get install diction

and point it at your file  with diction yourfilename.txt

These are just a couple of very basic tools to get things done, but when you really want a distraction free interface, this might just help. I’ve tried this on an old Pentium1 laptop with just a command line linux install … and its a horribly effective experience. There is NO internet to distract you, no tweets, no other apps. Just you and your textfile. Great for focus or for punishing your child and making it DO its homework WITH a computer but without any distractions. 

What is YOUR take on this ? What wordprocessor do YOU use and how to YOU make it work for you ? Tell us, in the Comments section.

Related Posts


  1. I always have problems with getting things done when it comes to writing/typing. I’ve recently got iA Writer (Mac OS X) on my iMac and iPad – it’s like a focus writer (like WriteRoom). Interesting thing about it is that it has iCloud storage so I can continue writing on other ‘i’ devices. I’ve been using it for about 2 weeks now and I’m pretty satisfied.


  1. Wordgrinder takes you back to the (productive) days of Wordperfect. | - [...] mentioned a couple of interesting command line suggestions for a good Wordprocessor a while ago in a previous post.…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *