I am looking for a light weight shell editor for Linux that a young child (eg 7-8 year old) can write python scripts in.

The motivation is to find something that is helpful for a beginning programmer without the frustrations of a steep learning curve.

It needs to accomplish the following:

  1. Simple interface like joe, pico etc.
  2. No complicated modes to think about like vim and emacs.
  3. Can be configured to turn tabs into whitespace for python.
  4. Ideally it should have some syntax colouring features.
  5. Must have a way to configure a hotkey to run the current script.

To clarify what I mean by the last point, my .vimrc file has these lines which allow me to press to execute the current script.

autocmd BufRead *.py set makeprg=python\ -c\ \"import\ py_compile,sys;\ sys.stderr=sys.stdout;\ py_compile.compile(r'%')\"
autocmd BufRead *.py set efm=%C\ %.%#,%A\ \ File\ \"%f\"\\,\ line\ %l%.%#,%Z%[%^\ ]%\\@=%m
autocmd BufRead *.py nmap <F5> :!python %<CR>
  • is the console mode of editor a necessary requirement? if it does not you should look at gui like bluefish or geany
    – Yurij73
    Aug 1, 2013 at 5:26
  • You might want to rethink the syntax colouring, especially for a child. They have better eyesight than you or I, and if this is a learning experience then actually learning to have mistakes jump out at you (as a side effect of learning python) will help them in all aspects of life. So instead of thinking "why isn't this word coloured like I think it should be" they will be thinking "where is my missing close-paren" (OK, Python: where is my missing close-quote).
    – dotancohen
    Aug 1, 2013 at 5:50
  • I'm predominantly interested in a console solution. Ultimately being able to run programs on a remote server is exciting and the same problem comes up with advocating python to SysAdmins who aren't good with emacs or vim.
    – ChrisGuest
    Aug 5, 2013 at 5:11
  • Syntax colouring is less important than the other criteria.
    – ChrisGuest
    Aug 5, 2013 at 5:11

2 Answers 2


Looks like pywarrior is a good fit:


  • Welcome to Unix & Linux Stack Exchange! Whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference.
    – slm
    Nov 15, 2013 at 16:10
  • Jethro, this is tantalisingly close to what I am looking for. I'll confirm if I can work around the gnome-terminal dependency. But thanks a lot for bringing it to my attention.
    – ChrisGuest
    Nov 18, 2013 at 2:15

MIT recommends IDLE for their 6.01 class. Wikipedia has a nice description and should fill all of your requirements. Official documentation for IDLE.

  • 1
    The OP wanted console editor, and IDLE is gui editor.
    – user37607
    Oct 24, 2013 at 11:03

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