Writing Without Distractions in Linux

The best way to write or compose something important using a computer is to do it without any distraction. But how is it possible to concentrate if your email notification keeps on popping, your Twitter updates are flashing, and you are always tempted to open your RSS reader? What’s my solution? I use a distraction free writer. -- A full-screen writing environment minus the desktop clutter. No distractions, no buttons, menus, and formatting; Just me and my text.

If you want to experience writing without distractions while in Linux, I can recommend these two full-screen text editors.

1. PyRoom
PyRoom is written in Python + GTK, and it's Free and Open Source software. Its basic features include:

* Full screen multidocument text editor;
* Small set of shortcuts;
* Simple help page for shortcuts;
* Different styles / colorsets available;

I really love using PyRoom not only because it is written in Python, but also because it's light and fast. However, it doesn't have important features like “autosave” at the moment, and it's still a little bit buggy. If you want to try PyRoom, you can get it HERE.

2. JDarkRoom
Written in Java, JDarkRoom was heavily inspired by DarkRoom, an implementation of WriteRoom (which is a Mac-only application that costs $24.95) for Windows. You can get JDarkRoom for Linux without paying a single dime.

Here are some of its features:
* Auto-save backups - so you never lose your work again;
* You can change your colour preferences, font and font size;
* Remembers the file that you were working on last time;
* Notifies you if you might have forgotten to save your changes;
* Word/line/character count;
* Specify a file on the command-line for JDarkRoom to open it at startup;
* Adjustable margins to fit any screen resolution;
* Text search;
* A command-reminder strip can be displayed at the bottom of the screen;

You can get JDarkRoom HERE.

While Abiword is my main word processor, I always do my first draft on a distraction free writer like PyRoom and JDarkRoom. It keeps me focused and just gets the job done without delay. Not to mention that it's very easy to use and doesn't require you to memorize tons of keyboard shortcuts. --Reminds me of using a typewriter, only it’s effortless.


  1. AnonymousJuly 24, 2008

    is it possible for you to do this with openoffice?

  2. AnonymousJuly 24, 2008

    How about just hitting F11 in Abiword. It does leave a menu at the top of the screen but it has a good clutter free feel.

    I love Abiword for writing and if it did ODF natively I'd use it all the time but unfortunately (according the the last I read from the Abiword developers) this is not likely to happen, ever. The ODF plugin helps.

  3. AnonymousJuly 25, 2008

    I'd recommend using the ADD plugin in Compiz too. It works wonders for this.

  4. Why not just run vim or nano? Both have pretty small footprints, and Vim has, I would think, far more features than either jdarkroom or pyroom.

  5. This is very useful. I use several macs all the time, but I just scored a Asus EEE (for train writing). I needed a way for me to get WriteRoom features (which I swear by) but on the EEE. I'll try them both. Thanks!

  6. This is possible to do this with any program, provided that you have the Desktop Effects (Compiz) enabled.

    Simply press alt+f10 and enjoy the maximized window without window handles :)

  7. Just use emacs, with all the junk (menu bar, scroll bars...) disabled.