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Are there any (good) terminal based (ie. runs in a VT, not in GUI/X) spreadsheets or wordprocessors for Unix/Linux? Can anybody remember the name of such programs which were popular before (eg. before X became so widespread)?

I know the "correct" way of doing wordprocessing in Unix is using a markup-language like LaTeX or GROFF together with a simple editor like vi or emacs... But what I'm wondering about, is if there is - or was (anybody remember an older program that did this?) - something like the old MS-DOS (pre-Windows) WordPerfect-like program for Unix? Where you didn't have true WYSIWYG, but where things like emphesize and underline was marked in the text with colors, reverse video and such.

Programs that are more "front ends" for LaTeX or some XML-format to create wordprocess-documents are also of interest, provided they use the terminal and use colors and such to mark things like emphesized text (rather than you see the latex format-code). Eg. you press CTRL-I, the text you write turns reverse video, and is written to file inbetween format-codes for emphesize.

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up vote 13 down vote accepted

As for command-line spreadsheet programs there are sc and oleo.


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In addition, there's also a rather fun one with a very innovative feature (3D), teapot. – HalosGhost Jul 15 '14 at 0:28
Thank you, I was looking for exactly that kind of spreadsheet - usable both from the console or a GUI, with a syntax simpler than that of tables in Org-mode. – lmsteffan Aug 26 '14 at 23:01
scim is a successor to sc, adding things like undo! – Sparhawk Apr 19 '15 at 7:52
@spawhawk Awesome. Appears it's been renamed again to sc-im github.com/andmarti1424/sc-im – wump Mar 30 at 7:19
Note that "The last development version of Oleo, 1.99.16, was released in 2001." From en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNU_Oleo – user7543 Jun 15 at 16:00

You can probably consider the use of ted a command line .rtf file editor. It 's open source and could be compile probably with any c compiler. See http://www.nllgg.nl/ted/

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Can anybody remember the name of such programs which were popular before (eg. before X became so widespread)?

According to this, there were barely any WYSIWYG spreadsheet editors before GUI interfaces, although spreadsheets and the processing of such goes much further back. None of those look to have been ported to *nix, perhaps because at the time no one used unix on a home (or small business) PC.

Your best bet might be to look for a web-based spreadsheet editor that works inside links or some other TUI browser that supports javascript (lynx doesn't, and I'm sure it will be required).

The same could be true for word processing. There is, appartently, a TeX WYSIWYG editor based on Emacs, but I can't tell whether it has a TUI version.

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Word Perfect was available for Unix, at least for SCO Unix.

Emacs can handle spreadsheets pretty well. Check out the emacs Wiki article on the topic. Since a traditional terminal does not have any graphics capabilities, the markup display on traditional text editors is rather limited. Emacs can nevertheless use colors to highlight text elements when using a text markup mode like latex or markdown.

If you are motivated to experiment, you can compile Qt embedded and link (nearly) any Qt application against it. By this you can use many programs on the framebuffer console.

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WordPerfect 5.1 ran on Linux, though the user interface used X. – Thomas Dickey Apr 23 at 17:13

Try Wordgrinder. It's in the Debian and Ubuntu repos. The only one I found.

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scim is the best command line spreadsheet right now. It compiles easily on OSX. You have to make one modification to the source code to fix the backspace key on OSX.


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scim seems good indeed! To help some new users to fix quickly the backspace key, look for the macros.h file.

Define MACOSX value then launch make. Just as easy!

To seek help within the program, enter :help and read the documentation.

Have fun using spreadsheet in your terminal!

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