Last Updated on: 10th December 2023, 12:44 pm

Web site:
Category: Office
Subcategory: Text Editors
Platform: Linux, Unix-like
License: GNU GPL
Interface: CLI
Wikipedia: GNU nano
First release: November 18, 1999

GNU nano – a small and simple text editor for use on the terminal. It copied the interface and key bindings of the Pico editor but added several missing features: undo/redo, syntax highlighting, line numbers, softwrapping, multiple buffers, selecting text by holding Shift, search-and-replace with regular expressions, and several other conveniences.

GNU nano was designed to be a free replacement for the Pico text editor, part of the Pine email suite from The University of Washington. It aimed to “emulate Pico as closely as is reasonable and then include extra functionality”.

The nano project was started in 1999 because of a few “problems” with the wonderfully easy-to-use and friendly Pico text editor.

First and foremost was its license: the Pine suite does not use the GPL, and (before using the Apache License) it had unclear restrictions on redistribution. Because of this, Pine and Pico were not included in many GNU/Linux distributions. Furthermore, some features (like go-to-line-number or search-and-replace) were unavailable for a long time or require a command-line flag.

Nano aimed to solve these problems by:
1) being truly free software by using the GPL,
2) emulating the functionality of Pico as closely as is reasonable, and
3) including extra functionality by default.

Nowadays, nano wants to be a generally useful editor with sensible defaults (linewise scrolling, no automatic line breaking).

The nano editor is an official GNU package.

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