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.

  • 1
    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, 2010 at 18:35

17 Answers 17



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.

  • 3
    is this compatible with markdown?
    – Ephraim
    Apr 20, 2012 at 18:37
  • 5
    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, 2013 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. Oct 20, 2015 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, 2016 at 17:44
  • How to enter tables in Zim?
    – Dims
    Nov 27, 2016 at 7:49

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

  • 3
    it's just that the online onenote does not offer the same experience as the desktop app
    – magor
    Nov 4, 2016 at 13:42
  • 6
    This is paid answer by Microsoft Jun 9, 2017 at 14:46
  • for my it does not work. switched back to zim. the standalone version is ok. the web one.. nah.. latency, browser, tabs..
    – ses
    Jul 11, 2018 at 16:02
  • Thanks, while its a decent alternative, the experience is inferior compared to the native windows version. I couldn't find a way to search across different notes, a feature which made onenote my preference in native windows environment. May 11, 2020 at 3:55

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

  • 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, 2014 at 23:39
  • Is this cross platform and cloud synced?
    – Jonathan
    Apr 8, 2019 at 8:36


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



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.
  • 1
    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, 2011 at 21:29
  • 2
    Evernote + WINE also work very well for me under Ubuntu.
    – HongboZhu
    Apr 22, 2012 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, 2012 at 8:46
  • But this takes notes only in a Vertical manner? Can I click anywhere and start writing?
    – Didier A.
    Sep 23, 2014 at 22:57

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.

  • 5
    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, 2010 at 15:41
  • 8
    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, 2010 at 15:56
  • 7
    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, 2010 at 16:06
  • 1
    "The only advantage OneNote has right now is collaboration" >> false. Nothing comes close to OneNote in terms of syncing, searching and organizing massive amount of handwriting notes and drawing across laptop, tablet, and phone (yes, I have stylus on all of them as my life depends on writing equations--I can see why some Mac users can't appreciate this feature of OneNote). I have tried many other apps and ended up having to uninstall all of them. I too would love to have an alternative.
    – Vicon
    Jul 27, 2018 at 6:01
  • 1
    Wow. Okay, I'll just circle back here to express further distaste for the OneNote interface. I've tried many times to use it, since we're MS E5 customers at my work. But in summary, there are many, many alternative note-taking apps which provide a cleaner, more focused experience than the chaotic mess of OneNote. It's certainly an applicable answer to this question, I was only (11yrs ago) challenging the "nothing comes close" as laughably arrogant. And today I stand by that challenge. There are better note-taking apps.
    – Scaine
    May 19, 2021 at 14:31

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: http://basket.kde.org/

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!

  • 3
    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, 2014 at 22:51


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

  • 1
    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, 2014 at 22:55
  • this one has a very nice keyboard interface-
    – Pedro Rolo
    May 7, 2015 at 20:43

P3X OneNote

This, in my opinion comes most close to the original. It is simply a native wrapper for one note web app. There is really not much else to it. If you are dedicated one note user and want to avoid vm or dual boot, then P3X will solve your dilemma of note taking. enter image description here



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


Nobody mentioned CherryTree software, which natively runs on Linux. My first impression that this is the most advanced notes taking software on Linux.

Some key features:

  • Import features from many other notes taking software.
  • Cross platform
  • Free to use
  • Has graphical icons basically for everything (not like 99% of other Linux software that has only drop down menus)
  • I've never used, but it looks so fancy to me. Getting close to OneNote.

Screenshot_1 Screenshot_2



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: http://projects.gnome.org/tomboy/download.html

Download Ubuntu One: https://one.ubuntu.com/downloads/

webNotes for iOS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/webnotes-powered-by-ubuntu/id519580240?mt=8

enter image description here

  • 1
    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, 2013 at 15:00

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.



It's very similar to OneNote with the difference, that it allows to store code snippets (colors the syntax etc, recognizes zilions of languages). Additionally you write all notes in the Markdown, so it's cool. The only problem is that they don't have their own cloud for syncing, so you can just save your data in any Dropbox folder or other cloud thing. And the data is not encrypted like for example in Simplenote


I recommend 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.


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.



You can use Dropbox + cron + git + Bitbucket.org for free versioning

  • DIY wheel. Have you used onenote?
    – Jonathan
    Apr 8, 2019 at 8:35

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