atom editor linux install

lab :: running github's open source text editor

atom text editor linux screenshot

atom is a "hackable text editor for the 21st century" created by the team at github. it's designed to be customizable, but also usable without needing to edit a config file.

this quote really sums it up perfectly:

because we spend most of our day in a text editor, the single most important feature we wanted in an editor was extensibility. atom is built with the same open source technologies used by modern web browsers. at the core of atom is chromium, the open source project behind google chrome. with that comes all the power and innovation being developed for the web. but more importantly, extending atom is as simple as writing javascript and css, two languages used by millions of developers each day.

the project is open source under the MIT license. you can checkout the repo's here.

let me start off by saying i use the sublime text editor all-day, everyday. it's the editor of my dreams. it's super fast, has great syntax highlighting, spell checking, code completion, support for tons of languages and build systems, an awesome package control system, theme support... i can keep going. i can also say the sublime is the first application i have PAID for in many years. so when i read that github was building an open source alternative i was immediately intrigued.

until now atom has only been available for beta testing on mac osx. but today they released the source code! which means that developers for the big three (mac, windows, & linux) can now build and install the app themselves.

installing on #! / debian

for installation on debian based systems you will need to compile it yourself. it's simpler than it sounds.


  • os with 64-bit architecture
  • python 2.x
  • node.js v0.10.x
  • npm v1.4.x (packaged with node)
  • git
  • gnome keyring dev

install the dependencies:

sudo apt-get install libgnome-keyring-dev python2.7 git git-core

you can also install nodejs via apt-get, but as of right now it's not the most recent version. see the nodejs wiki for install instructions.

setup python:
to ensure that gyp uses python 2
* personally i did not do this. since i don't have python 3 installed *

npm config set python /usr/bin/python2 -g

clone the repo & enter the directory:

git clone 
cd atom

now, there are three ways to actually build atom:

#1. create the application at /tmp/atom-build/Atom


#2. installs command to /usr/local/bin/atom

sudo script/grunt install

#3. generate a .deb package at /tmp/atom-build

script/grunt mkdeb

i personally opted for the first one, just to see if it would work (but if i was going to do this again i'd chose option #2). after building (there were a number of warning in the build script) i moved the files from /tmp/atom-build/Atom to /opt/atom/ and symlinked it into my path.

installing on ubuntu via ppa

to install on ubuntu 14.04, 13.10 or 12.04, make sure the dependencies are met and run:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:webupd8team/atom 
sudo apt-get update 
sudo apt-get install atom

installing on arch via the AUR

archers should use their usual work-flow for the AUR: atom latest release | atom git

installing on mac osx

just download and run the official installer.

installing on windows

checkout the windows build instructions in the atom docs.

initial impressions

atom is quite fast (although load time is a bit slower sublime, but it's still beta). the ui is quite nice, and should be very familiar to sublime users. it seems like github's plan is to create a clone of sublime's features then build upon them, and it seems like they have almost all the bases covered already. the plugin system is quite nice. i actually think i like it a little better than sublime's package manager. but we'll see what happens when they have the vast number of packages sublime has. i like the very tight git integration into the gui (though i have already achieved this in sublime with plugins). they have a great number of supported syntaxes already. code completion has great coverage, although it seems a bit slow. themes are broken into two classes: ui and syntax. there are not many themes available yet, but they all seems pretty nice. my biggest gripe with atom themes is they chose LESS over SASS. but that's more of a personal preference thing for me than anything.

i'm very excited to see where this application goes. since it's os / community backed i expect big things. but i'm not ready to uninstall sublime quite yet.