Review: Top 6 Free Linux (& Windows) HTML Editors (Open Source) & Recommendation

By Angsuman Chakraborty, Gaea News Network
Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I have tried several HTML Editors over the years. One of the earliest WYSIWYG HTML editor I used was Netscape Gold / Composer, which was quite basic but probably the only one at that time (1995). For quite sometime after that I used Visual Page, even when the product was discontinued because of its simplicity and ease of use. I graduated on to Dream Weaver. Anyway back to the present when I moved to Linux, I was looking for a high quality HTML editor to be a replacement of DreamWeaver on Linux platform. I was looking for an editor with WYSIWYG capability with modern CSS based layouts. I needed something light-weight and yet with well rounded features. Syntax highlighting was a nicety but not necessity.

I tried several editors including but not limited to SciTe Text Editor, Nvu, Bluefish Editor, XEmacs Text Editor, KompoZer & Quanta Plus. Here is a brief overview of each followed by my recommendation.

SciTe Text Editor

SciTe is a nice light-weight cross-platform text & code editor which can also be used to edit HTML. It is however not WYSIWYG and hence was not suitable for my job.


XEmacs is a nice, extremely powerful, multi-platform text & code editor for all purposes including editing HTML. It is however not WYSIWYG and hence was not suitable for my job.

Both of them are however very good code editors and could be used as such. SciTe is simpler of the two and preferred for people migrating from Windows.

Bluefish Editor

Bluefish is a nice, powerful, specialized non-WYSIWYG html editor and recommended for experts. It contains icons for common HTML tags and very customizable. It has excellent syntax highlighting.

It contains widgets for generating PHP, Apache & SQL code. It has built-in project management capabilities, spell checker, word count, form generators and lots more. If you are not hung up on WYSIWYG then Bluefish is an excellent editor. You may also use Bluefish in conjunction with a browser. Unfortunately I needed something to quickly churn HTML code. I needed an WYSIWYG with abilities to switch views to source mode. So the search was still on.

Quanta Plus

Quanta Plus is a nice WYSIWYG editor for Linux and has a mode (use F9 to activate) which closely mimics DreamWeaver. You can have source code view, WYSIWYG or both for rapid development. The source code view has nice syntax highlighting. It is targeted for KDE.

Quanta Plus is an excellent editor with one major problem. It frequently crashes! With all her capabilities Quanta Plus fails on stability and that to me is a big no-no. I really hope Quanta Plus fixes the bugs to become a great HTML Editor in the coming days. However today Quanta Plus should not be used on serious projects. Another major problem with Quanta Plus is its slowness in handling large files.
In case you are wondering I tested it extensively on Fedora Core 6 running on a Core 2 Duo machine with 2 GB of RAM, so resources wasn’t an issue.


Nvu was an excellent WYSIWYG editor in 2005. It is the descendant of Mozilla Composer. I used Nvu before and liked it. So it was the first one I tried after switching to Linux. However at this time it is unmaintained and has some teething problems including lots of unfixed bugs. At this time it is better not to use Nvu. The author is focusing his energies on the next version of Nvu dubbed Composer 2, which is hoped to be a significant step forward.

Meanwhile Kaze took the initiative and fixed the bugs in Nvu and released KompoZer which is today leaps and bounds ahead of Nvu is features and stability. I will discuss Kompozer next.


KompoZer is a Nvu fork which fixes the pending defects in Nvu. It has four tabbed views - Normal (editable WYSIWYG), HTML Tags (tags are highlighted in semi-WYSIWYG editable view), Source (source code view with tab highlighting) & Preview (non-editable WYSIWYG).
You can manage sites and publish directly from the editor, CSS editor, Javascript console, icons for common HTML tags, widgets and lots more. It is pretty stable and usable. I can easily edit large files with it. I tested it on files of around 10 MB.

It is currently the best WYSIWYG capable HTML Editor I found on Linux and is a strong competitor for Dream Weaver in terms of features and functionalities. The only thing I am looking for is that it should be included in Fedora distribution.
Highly recommended.

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John Bowling
February 15, 2010: 3:46 pm

Kompozer has problems! I have pages I have created for my own use with lots of css and divs.
If I open one up and save it back to a new name (no changes made) it now has “-moz-background-clip: -moz-initial; -moz-background-origin: -moz-initial; -moz-background-inline-policy: -moz-initial;” added to every div. And that causes them display improperly when viewed with Firefox or Konqueror.
It those items are supposed to be there, why does it disturb the well defined layout?

Also, if it’s going to make a couple of dozen additions like that, why does it not change the external css file so it’s only there once?

I will stick with using Kate for my editing and leave the do everything badly software for the novices!

May 16, 2008: 2:02 am

I use Quanta Plus and could not go back to Windows now because I could not manage without it. I only ever experienced crashes with the version available from my distro’s repository. I downloaded the sources of the latest version and built it myself (took over an hour!) and it is now as solid as any software.

October 6, 2007: 1:52 pm

Oops! I refreshed the page and everything is normal now. It’s weird, if I access your blog though google search it shows weird characters. After refreshing clears up everything.

September 28, 2007: 11:09 am

Thanks Naqvi. It’s great to find you here. Will talk to you soon. take care..

September 25, 2007: 9:33 pm

Hi Angsuman,
You had some information which I required - about good HTML editors on Linux. You know what? I was pointed to this blog of yours by Vijay Amrit, for finding info about HTML editors. And probably he doesn’t even know yet that it is your blog! Keep it up.


September 12, 2007: 1:34 am

Blogroll Dive: 9/12/07…

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