Monday, 30 June 2014

Give Ted some love!

In the land of [Microsoft] word processing, Microsoft Word is King, but perhaps WordPad is the Prince. WordPad has been a default part of the Microsoft Windows operating system since Windows 95. After some years of neglect, it got a new makeover for Windows 7 and in all honesty, is all that most home users need to accomplish their word processing tasks.

In the land of FOSS/Linux, Libre Office is King, but who is Prince - AbiWord?

I would like to put forward an alternative, and it goes by the unlikely name of Ted.

If you are looking for a word processor more akin to WordPad, for simple tasks, that doesn't get in the way or try to do too many things, then you might be surprised at how nice Ted is to use:

Its author, Mark de Does, calls it "an easy rich text processor" and that's exactly what this is. Moreover, it was always intended to be the de-facto WordPad replacement for Unix/Linux. The default file format is RTF - a format that, although proprietary, is cross-platform and has been stable for many years. That means that whatever Ted produces and saves on Linux, will be untouched and replicated exactly on any other *Nix system, Microsoft, Apple, or even Android. 

Originally built on the LessTif toolkit, it hasn't changed much over the years from inception, but is now compiled with the GTK+2 toolkit, so blends in much better on a conventional Linux desktop.

Ted is a bit quirky, but once you get used to the quirks, you will realise what a nice, clutter-free change from the norm it is.

Get Ted

Ted is quite hard to find in many Linux repositories even though it was last updated in 2013. However, it's quite easy to download a .deb for Debian/Ubuntu or an RPM for Fedora/SUSE/Mandriva as the Author has kindly uploaded them to his own site:

There are some dependencies, most of which should be handled by your package manager, but certainly on Debian, you are going to need libtiff4 which you can download from Ubuntu. Install this first then install the Ted deb file:

Or, I have both packages on Github:

Start using Ted

One quirk of Ted is that is doesn't open to a new blank document by default. This is the screen you will see:

You'll have to click File|New or press Ctrl+N on your keyboard to get a new document.

Then you are presented with a clutter-free page ready for typing. The first thing you notice is the lack of a toolbar. Don't let this fool you into thinking that it is a plain text only editor - everything is found in the menus, or by bring up the Format Tool dialog.

Right-click to bring up the Format Tool which will open by default at the font dialog where you can change the font type, size and apply bold, italics or underline:

Leave this tool open and come back to it each time you need to change an aspect of the page. Click on the drop-down menu at the top and you'll see that you can use it to alter page characteristics, paragraph styles, insert a table, check spelling amongst other things.

A quick look through main application menu indicates you can insert images (which can be resized) and tables as well as other page processing commands.

If you don't already know your basic keyboard shortcuts, now's the time to learn as they'll help you use Ted with a minimum amount of fuss. They are indicated next to certain menu entries:


Ted is lightweight to install, in terms of memory use and in terms of it's GUI. There are enough features 'under the hood' for the vast majority of anyone's home word processing tasks. In fact, it's on a par with Google Docs for text processing features. If you want a distraction-free word processor that won't take up much room on your hard drive or use precious CPU cycles, then I can heartedly recommend this product.


Ted is the default word processor on Theme-ix Linux releases.

To start Ted with a blank page try this:
  1. Install xdotool from your distro's repositories
  2. Create a new batch file as follows:
    Ted &
    sleep 1
    xdotool key ctrl+n
  3. Save the batch file onto your desktop
  4. Make it executable (use Thunar or from a command line: chmod a+x batchfilename)
  5. Ted will open and a second after open a new blank file.
The online Ted manual is here:

Similar projects: FocusWriter

1 comment:

  1. Hi....

    So Ted is another word processor software that we can use for word processing having these features? I am just amazed to know about this great program.