Note Taking Software for Linux (A Review of NoteCase)

**UPDATE**  This review is of the current build in the Ubuntu Repos, which the author of the software has notified me is out of date, for the most recent release (With several of these issues addressed), download one of the precompiled binaries (available for most any systems) from their website.**UPDATE** (Thanks again for this information).

I believe many people choose to use Linux on their laptops for the simple reason that it works, and works well on low-powered machines. As a student, a low-power machine is the only viable option. Also, as a student, good note-taking software is a must. Before I switched over to Linux, I was an MS OneNote guy. Let me begin by saying that there is no direct equivalent…yet.

The most viable solution currently is NoteCase. While OneNote is like a Nasa-Grade Swiss Army Knife, NoteCase is the scalpel. It does one thing real well, but you wouldn’t want to open a bottle of wine with it. It takes notes, organized in a hierarchical tree and saves them as a single file.

**Edit** This review applies only to the Non-commercial version of the software.  The author of the software has informed me that the program is substantially more robust and powerful in the commercial version.  **Edit**

Let’s Talk Strengths

  1. The interface is very intuitive. You have seen these buttons before. It only takes a minute to figure out how to insert images, or bold text.

  2. Multiple ways to accomplish most tasks. Adding new child nodes can be done by right-clicking in the tree column, or by a pull down for those who like to keyboard and use ALT. I rarely touch the mouse while taking notes.

  3. Very customizable interface. You can set a default text color, size, background, etc. and it will be persistent. You can even set it to open the same file automatically when the program opens. For a student who only needs their single NoteCase file that has a parent node for each course and a child node for each day’s notes, the immediacy of opening the program and being greeted by the last document you used is highly efficient.

  4. Autosave. This is priceless, especially if you are on cruddy battery power that could fail on you at any time. You can set how often it saves.

  5. Autobackup. You choose how many different backup files it saves and where it saves them.

  6. Links. You can add links directly into the document with the push of a button.

  7. Very Low Resource Requirements. This program runs like a champion on a 512 meg, 1.7ghz processor. You could probably open 50 windows at once (Haven’t tried this, but you know what I mean).

  8. Solid Code. I have not had a single crash in over 3 weeks of avid daily use. I’ve inserted Images, Links, and a variety of lengths of text.

  9. Export Function. HTML, TXT, or a stand alone Executable.

Let’s Talk Weakness

  1. Weak font features.

    -Features you have: Bold, Italic, Underline, Strike-through, Text color, Background color.

    -Features it lacks: FONT SIZE. This is a major weakness, but not a deal breaker.

  2. Weak image control features on inserted images.

    -Features you have: Insert PNG or JPG. Resize them at moment of import.

    -Features you lack: Ability to resize post import. Anchor Points (The image is inserted as a giant letter, displacing all text around it.) No option for “Text Surround” of the image. No support for GIF.

**Edit**  Thank you to the author of the software for informing me that this program supports import for any GTK supported Images formats. **Edit**

3. Not enough Export Features. HTML and TXT are great, but I would love a direct to PDF for the sake of universality.

User Options

The User Options are very informative about the limited but powerful potential of the program.

Summary

This program does exactly what it claims to do: Let you take an almost unlimited number of notes, organize them in a tree, and keep them in a single file, or “Case.” It never claims to be a powerhouse, and I think when we meet its limitations we should be asking ourselves if we really want it to be bogged down and bloated by a solution to every situation. Most importantly, it is a rock solid program. I’ve tried to crash it and failed. I would like a few of the smaller features that lacks to be added at a later date, but I don’t feel it needs much more. The font size issue is a big deal, but I feel it’s only a matter of time (as you can change the font size program wide, just not a single word).

If you find yourself with a few too many TXT files of varying types and sizes you should look into this program for precise, near surgical organization.

For installation, I can attest that it is in the Ubuntu Repos. This means that if you run any *Buntu derivative you have access to it (Gos, Mint, etc.). If you use a non-Ubuntu distro please let us know if it is in your Repo.

Sorry Windows and Mac users, this program is only available for Linux. Correction: packages are available for Windows (may require GTK), Mac OS X, and even Open Solaris (thanks Michael!). For non-OSS alternatives to those on Windows and Mac, check out OneNote one Windows, or OMNIoutliner for Mac. I’ve used both and they are startlingly, almost frustratingly bulging with features (and will leave your wallet startlingly not bulging with money).

15 thoughts on “Note Taking Software for Linux (A Review of NoteCase)

  1. Thank you for the Notecase review.
    I am the author of the program, so here are few tips /corrections:

    – Notecase can also import pictures in the other formats
    Newer versions of the program list also .gif, but it is able to load any format that is supported by GTK.
    I’ve just tested loading .tif and it works fine.

    – some weaknesses you mention are dealt with in the commercial version of the program named Notecase Pro (www.virtual-sky.com). For example, Pro version supports font sizes.

    Anyway, thanks for the review. I’m glad you like the program.

  2. BTW, latest version is 1.9.5.

    I see on the screenshots you were testing 1.7.9 which is quite old. The problem is that Ubuntu repositories usually lag significantly with the program releases 🙁

  3. Thank you for your comments. I’m interested in checking out the commercial version, maybe review it also.

    Thanks also for the importing correction, I’ll add that to the review.

    I have had problems in the past with repos being a few steps behind. It is good to know that a source compile is the preferred method.

  4. Another tip: no need to compile from source. Download page on the official website lists 29 different precompiled packages.

    Regarding the commercial review, contact on my mail. We can arrange something.

  5. I just tried it on my laptop running Ubuntu Jaunty, which has NoteCase 1.9.8 in its repository.

    Several minutes after execution – and Notecase is gobbling up about 900 MB of RAM doing nothing (I have yet to create anything in it).

    I’ll give it another try and let you know if I manage to find a solution.

  6. Currently still no joy – just downloaded the latest binary from Sourceforge; and now it will also hog the CPU.

    Still looking around for a solution.

  7. Hi
    Notecase Pro is developing quickly and will soon be a very serious contender in note-taking software because it is well supported by a developer who responds well to his customers, it is a sold rapidly developing program, and because it is cross-platform when so many other note-taking applications are not. Who wants to be tied down to one Operating System? I often work in both Linux and Windows.

    The program TreeDBnotes 3.XX runs quite well in WINE in Linux. Most features work well, and its in an advanced stage of development. It is packed with features and easily replaced OneNote for me.

    MyBase 5.x also worked when I tried it last in WINE in Linux, but the clipper extensions for Firefox did not work.

  8. I used Notecase a long time, the problem of this program is.
    The project is now discontinued, the last version being 1.9.8.
    Now I use Cherrytree and this is good and stay in constant progress, in the moment don’t support encryption.
    You can se a full features at http://www.giuspen.com/cherrytree/
    This program is stable and very useable.
    BTW.. sorry my English is poor.

  9. Using notecase Pro. Great program, use it every day. Tried many other note taking software and this is the only one that fulfilled all my requirements that I tried.
    Has a few quirks still but those are minor in comparison to the functionality it provides. If you can reproduce an issue for the author he will quickly fix it.

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