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Is there any program for Linux that has about the same functionality and usability as Microsoft OneNote? At the moment I am checking out Basket (for KDE), that seems to point to the right direction, but still lacks much of the functionality of OneNote and is very buggy unfortunately.

For those of you that don't know what OneNote is, here is the first paragraph from the Wikipedia entry:

Microsoft OneNote (formerly called Microsoft Office OneNote) is a computer program for free-form information gathering and multi-user collaboration. It can gather user's notes (handwritten or typed), drawings, and audio commentaries and share them with other users of Microsoft OneNote over the Internet. The desktop version of OneNote is available for the Microsoft Windows platform.

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Thank you very much for all the suggestions! I have checked out most of them but have to admit, that Basket really still seems to be the closest thing, as far as interface and usability is concerned. It just needs some more polish, a few bugs to be killed and better gnome-integration. Apart from that I fully agree with Jonathon's explanation in his comment, although he was voted down for his answer. I will stick with Basket and hope for the next version! Thanks everybody – YSN Dec 29 '10 at 18:35

14 Answers 14


Install via the software center

Zim is a similar note taking application with wiki like features. Zim supports rich text formatting, links between notes and to external resources, inline images and even LaTeX equations. It has a familiar 'notebook' layout with tabs.

Here is a quick screenshot demonstrating some of the features:

alt text

Zim is extendible using plugins - such as the LaTeX plugin. There are lots more. Here is the list of default plugins (you may need to install dependencies of some):

  • Calendar
  • Create Note (from command line for keyboard shortcuts etc.)
  • Diagram Editor (using graphviz)
  • Equation Editor (using LaTeX)
  • GNU R Plot Editor
  • Insert Screenshot (using scrot)
  • Insert Symbol
  • Link Map (using graphviz)
  • Spell Checker
  • Task List
  • Tray Icon (actually an application indicator)
  • Version Control (using bzr - this should make synchronisation and back up really easy)

The only feature it seems to be missing is Ubuntu One synchronisation like with Tomboy, however, if you use the default Notes directory (~/Notes), you can synchronise this over Ubuntu One, as your notes as held in files in this folder.

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is this compatible with markdown? – Ephraim Apr 20 '12 at 18:37
Unfortunately it does not seem to support handwritten notes. You could e.g. embed Xournal files, but that slows you down a lot when taking notes. – Tomas Jan 28 '13 at 11:07
@Ephraim If you go to Tools > Edit Source it shows the underlying text file which is stored somewhere, and it does seem to use markdown, yes. – rpmcruz Oct 20 '15 at 16:59
@Ephraim It is compatible but internally it saves and uses a syntax which is an hybrid between DocuWiki and Markdown. However, it can export/copy any text snippet or note or compilation of notes into standard Markdown (I tested the output on several Markdown reader, they never choke). – gaborous Mar 20 at 17:44

OneNote - Office Web Apps

OneNote is awesome, and no, there isn't a compatible version for Linux. BUT you can use Office Web Apps which is almost as awesome as OneNote :)

You need a Microsoft Live account to use it.

It is a Web App so it runs in a browser and works flawlessly from Ubuntu too :)

I know it is still Microsoft piece of work, but if one likes OneNote then should use OneNote.

Office Web Apps screenshot

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I use Evernote. Sign up for a free or paid account on the website, then download the Nixnote client software.

Download the package for Ubuntu

It supports multiple clients (PC, Mac, Android, iDevice, Web), tagging, sharing, searching, rich text, inline attachments (pictures, music) and crucially (for me) To Do items. That way, I know from a meeting note if I have any actions outstanding, even weeks afterwards, because when I click on my saved search "To Do", it pops up all the notes that have uncompleted actions.

The collaboration element from OneNote isn't there, but I don't have any need for that anyway. I personally believe OneNote is overpriced and as usual for Microsoft, single-client only (although they support a web interface now). Also, it looks like the 2010 version is only available as part of 2010, while the 2007 was available stand alone for £80 retail.

Here's a picture of Nixnote in action.

alt text


  • Nixnote used to be called Nevernote.
  • Also worth checking out the excellent, native client Everpad.
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just wanted to add not only are there clients for almost every OS/Device known to man, but the web client isn't bad either, and they will sync between devices... this come in handy if you are like me and you could be on 4 different computers, plus an iPad at any given time... – TheXed Feb 19 '11 at 21:29
Evernote + WINE also work very well for me under Ubuntu. – HongboZhu Apr 22 '12 at 10:10
Funnily enough, I prefer Nixnote's interface, despite some of its quirks. Good to know the latest Evernote works under Wine though. – Scaine Apr 23 '12 at 8:46
But this takes notes only in a Vertical manner? Can I click anywhere and start writing? – Didier A. Sep 23 '14 at 22:57

Basket Note Pads

Install via the software center

I've always liked Basket. It's not as nice or polished as OneNote, but it lets you organize things hierarchically, group things together, embed media...etc.

It worked beautifully for me when I was in school.

Basket Screenshot

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frezze too often on my KUbuntu 13. each of your click create a new empty item which will not automaticly cleaned up. So you easily got many empty item on your canvas – Hiep Apr 13 '14 at 23:39


Install via the software center

RedNotebook is a graphical diary and journal helping you keep track of notes and thoughts. It includes a calendar navigation, customizable templates, export functionality and word clouds. You can also format, tag and search your entries.

enter image description here enter image description here

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Install via the software center

Not strictly the same (but seeing as other answers have moved the goalposts slightly...). It's a very good quick note-taking and planning application. All my planning is now done using this as it's very quick to build up areas of detail, moving back and forth in a non-linear fashion.

FreeMind screenshot

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Interesting, I'd say this is one of the closest to actually be an alternative. The most useful OneNote feature is: allowing you to click and type anywhere on the page. Mimicking what paper/whiteboard has done for us for ages. In a way, a MindMap app kind of allows you to do this somewhat. – Didier A. Sep 23 '14 at 22:55
this one has a very nice keyboard interface- – lujbilami May 7 '15 at 20:43

Short answer: nothing comes close to OneNote in terms of interface.

Long answer: Run it in a virtual machine (for example, using VirtualBox), or in Wine. If I remember correctly Office 2007 (including OneNote) runs fine with recent versions of Wine.

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That's pretty narrow minded! Nothing comes close? Notebook by CircusPonies on Mac, Tomboy notes, Evernote, SpringPadIT, Zim, Google Docs. The list is endless. It all depends on what your priority is. The only advantage OneNote has right now is collaboration, which I don't use. And even then, Evernote is a stone's throw behind. – Scaine Dec 29 '10 at 15:41
Let me quantify. Nothing comes close in terms of interface and features, i.e. in terms of similarity. BasKet Notes is closest but is, as has already been said, buggy. Tomboy/Gnote are effectively sticky notes (not the same thing). Zim/Wikis are not the same thing. Google Docs is definitely not the same thing. And something on Mac? I thought we were talking about Ubuntu here? Name one alternative that allows you to click and type anywhere on the page - none? Then nothing comes close. – Jonathon Dec 29 '10 at 15:56
I'll also add (as I cannot edit my above comment for some reason) that I've been looking for the mythical OneNote alternative since it was released. – Jonathon Dec 29 '10 at 16:06

I've been using MS OneNote for years now for business and private purposes as well.

Now I tried ALL of the above mentioned alternative apps, but I must say, honestly really nothing comes close to OneNote.

The only one which is at least somewhat close is Basket Note Pads which is available for download from the Ubuntu Software Center or the developer's website:

If you do not want to sacrifice most of the functions you love in OneNote than you need to install it somehow in Wine or PlayonLinux or in a WM...

Reasoning: In which linux note app can you click anywhere in the note and instert any type of object, files, text, drawings etc or edit them? Or which provides automatic cloud sync as well? Which allows you to make freehand drawings or use drawing tools? Which allows you to draw directly on top of any graphical elements, pics etc by hand? How about direct pdf or html or jpg saving of notes? Any linux note app supports the use of stylus pens on touchscreen? Any with image to text conversion feature or OCR, scanning etc? Drag and drop of any elements within or in between notes/notebooks? One click open new tab like note/notebook management with color codes and drag and drop? And so on the list is endless. OneNote Rulez every note app for linux. Unfortunately!

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Agreed, OneNote is the undisputed champ. I would even go as far as saying, it's a completely different category of note taking app. OneNote is the only note taking app I know which allows you to note stuff wherever you want on the note surface, just like paper does. That's what makes it so great and fast. – Didier A. Sep 23 '14 at 22:51


Install via the software center

The search for a good onenote alternative has occupied me for many months. Having tried all of the above I have settled for the moment on Keepnote (.org). While not as flashy as Onenote it has some advantages. I sync it to a cloud and as such, all my notes are accessible because they are html :)

KeepNote Screenshot

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Task Coach - Your friendly task manager

Task Coach is a simple open source todo manager to keep track of personal tasks and todo lists. It grew out of a frustration that most task managers do not provide facilities for composite tasks. Often, tasks and other things todo consist of several activities. Task Coach is designed to deal with composite tasks. In addition, it offers effort tracking, categories, and notes. Task Coach is available for Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, BSD, and iPhone and iPod Touch.

task coach screenshot

More Screenshots can be found here.

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Install via the software center

Tomboy is syncing fine via Ubuntu One. You can install Ubuntu One and Tomboy on your Windows, set up your account and sync in both directions. There is also an app for iPhone called webNotes syncing your Tomboy notes.

Download Tomboy:

Download Ubuntu One:

webNotes for iOS:

tomboy screenshot

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Unfortunately, Ubuntu One is dropping sync of Tomboy at the end of this month due to changes in their infrastructure, so this not an alternative any more. – speter Feb 12 '13 at 15:00

I recommend you Evernote. A really good notebook, you are not dependent on a specific device. Use it on smart phone, tablet, Linux.... it will also automatically synchronize.

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I have tried all the other software recommendations, and frankly none fit the job as @Jonathon said. Their respective UIs are usually quite poor, and none do the fundamental thing which OneNote does. Sections with contained categories, essential when you want all notes in one place.

It is expensive, text only, and you'd have to use Wine to run it, but I'd recommend CintaNotes. The WineHQ AppDB lists CintaNotes as running against an extremely old version of Wine.


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You can use Dropbox + cron + git + for free versioning

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protected by gertvdijk Oct 13 '13 at 18:39

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