GDL Editors on Linux

This entry is part 2 of 4 in the series GDL Gnu Data Language

For editing GDL / IDL .pro files on Linux you can of course use any Text Editor (gedit, vi) or the IDLDE, but the following could prove useful:

1. Kate

Kate Editor with GDL file

Kate Editor with GDL file

Kate is a text editor for the KDE desktop environment but looks just as good on a Gnome Desktop (Ubuntu default). Kate has built-in support for syntax highlighting .pro files. To install, search for Kate in the Ubuntu Software Centre, or at the command line use:

Opening a .pro file in Kate should show your syntax highlighting and some auto-completion.

You can also have a split view with a terminal panel so you can run GDL commands.

Kate with GDL code and the GDL command prompt

Kate with GDL code and the GDL command prompt

2. Emacs & IDLWAVE

Emacs with IDLWAVE

Emacs with IDLWAVE

The IDLWAVE website has some good instructions. First install emacs from the Ubuntu Software Center or at the command-line use:

Next install IDLWAVE at the command line with the following commands:

After installing IDLWAVE create a file named .emacs (dot emacs) in your home directory with the following content:

Open emacs (Applications > Accessories > Emacs 22) and notice the IDLWAVE menu. Notice the menu option for IDLWAVE > External > Start IDL shell. To get this to work you will need to create a symlink for the idl command pointing to the gdl program, as follows:


Series NavigationInstalling GDL an IDL alternativeGDL: Beginner Code Examples

3 Responses to “GDL Editors on Linux”

  1. Kalvin

    I’m at the last step of trying to install idlwave on my mac computer and I’m confused as to what the last question is asking concerning the symlink. How exactly do I do that? Also with the step prior I created a file using textwrangler and named it test.emacs and copied and pasted the content and saved the file to my desktop. Am I supposed to do this?

    Thank you!

    • jonny

      You probably want to use the Terminal app and type the command to create the link e.g. sudo ln -s /usr/bin/gdl /usr/bin/idl
      For yout test.emacs file I would suggest saving it as .emacs rather than test.emacs and it should be saved in your home folder (e.g. /Users/Kalvin ) rather than your desktop. Finder does not show hidden files and folders without some work so you might be better learning a bit about using the command line and using Terminal. For example, tying ‘ls -al’ (without the quotes) in Terminal will show all files and folders in your home folder including the hidden . files such as .emacs
      Hope this helps,

  2. Peter

    I have installed the idlwave successfully on my Mac, but I don’t know how to make highlight syntax for the key words such like ‘plot’. Can you tell how to set it ?

    Thank you!


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