Open Source Musings The thoughts, ideas, and opinions of an open source guy

Three journaling apps for the Linux desktop

Hands writing in a paper journal

No matter what your reasons are for keeping a journal or a diary, there are any number of ways in which to keep that journal. You could go old school and use a paper notebook. You could use a web-based applications. Or you could take advantage of the humble text file.

Another option is to use a dedicated journaling application. There are several very flexible and very useful journaling tools for the Linux desktop.

Let’s take a look at three of them.


RedNotebook is a very flexible journaling application. Much of that flexibility comes from its templates. Those templates let you record personal thoughts or meeting minutes, plan a journey, or log a phone call. You can also edit existing templates or create your own.

You format your journal entries using something very much like Markdown, as shown below:

Writing in RedNotebook

You can also add tags to your journal entries to make them easier to find. Just click or type a tag in the left pane of the application, and a list of corresponding journal entries appears in the right pane.

On top of that, you can export all or some or just one of your journal entries to plain text, HTML, LaTeX or PDF. Before you do that, you can get an idea of how an entry will look as a PDF or HTML file by clicking the Preview button on the toolbar.

Previewing a journal entry

Overall, RedNotebook is an easy to use yet flexible application. It does take a bit of getting used to, but once you do it’s a useful tool.


If you’re looking for a simple journal, then check out ThotKeeper. While it lacks the features of RedNotebook, it can meet most (if not all) of your journaling needs.

ThotKeeper’s interface is quite spartan:

ThotKeeper's main window

On a particular day, you enter a title and, optionally, one or more tags for an entry and then type away. You can also create multiple entries for a single day. Before you can do that, though, you need to save the journal entry that you’re writing.

Multiple Entries in ThotKeeper

ThotKeeper tracks entries in its left pane. And if you’ve added tags to your entries, you can click the Tags tab to quickly find journal entries that correspond to those tags.

Almanah Diary

Almanah Diary is another very simple journaling tool. But don’t let its lack of features put you off. It’s simple, but it gets the job done.

How simple? It’s pretty much an area for entering your journal entries and a calendar.

Almanah Diary main window

Well, you can do a bit more than that – like adding some basic formatting (bold, italics, and underlines) and convert text to a hyperlink. Almanah also enables you to encrypt your journal.

While there is a feature to import plain text files into the application, I wasn’t able to get it working. Still, if you like your software simple and need a quick and dirty journal, then Almanah Diary is worth a look.

What about the command line?

I always get asked that question …

One that I’ve tried and liked is jrnl. Or you can use this solution which uses a command line alias to format and save your journal entries into a text file.

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