Both C & C++ programming languages have made to the 2019 Stackoverflow’s list of most popular languages. Though all its users know that both the programming languages are different; it is often used interchangeably by the majority of those who don’t know much about them.

For the starters, C & C++ are different programming languages. Though both of them have certain similarities like similar syntax, code structures, compilation & notions, but also have certain differences. 

The major difference is that C is a procedural programming language that doesn’t support objects or classes, whereas, C++ can be called a hybrid language i.e. the combination of both object-oriented and procedural programming language.

Programmers also refer C as the subset of C++. In simple words, C++ can run most of the C code but C cannot run C++ code.

Coming back to the title of this article, let’s discuss the IDEs and Code Editors for these programming languages. But before going to the section, first, let’s understand the importance of these 2 programming languages and of course about the IDEs and Code Editors.

More About C & C++

Often C is called the mother of all major programming languages. It was 1st developed in the year 1972 and is also considered by many as the first high-level programming language. Apart from these, C is the only programming language that has survived for the longest period of time in the history of the programming world. Moreover, it is also one of those languages with which the majority of the programmers start their journey. 

Read More: 20 Ways To Learn C Programming For Free

While talking about C++, we can say that definitely it has influenced several other programming languages such as Java or C#. To your surprise, initially, C++ was called as the new C, as it was inspired from C. Although, C++ was build upon C framework, it included numerous new features and functions which helped it to gain its popularity.

Read More: Introduction to C++ Programming Language

Differentiating IDEs & Code Editors

As you are reading this article, I am sure you already have the knowledge of IDEs & Editors. If so, then you can skip this part, but if you are still confused, then IDE or Integrated Development Environment is a tool or software that allows you to write, edit, modify, run, execute, debug and deploy your code. It gives you all these features under one roof or environment making your work more efficient and productive. 

Similar to IDE, Code Editors also allows you to write codes. However, it has comparatively fewer features but is lighter and fast. In recent time, thanks to all the modern developments, the difference between both of them have been blurred but still, programmers use both IDEs and code editors as per their ease.

Why IDEs or Editors for only Linux & Not Windows or Mac?

If you have searched something like top C/C++ IDEs for Linux then you already know the answer to the above question. Still, for those who are new to Linux, well Linux is known for several advantages. The biggest one is its security, and because of this, the majority of the servers in the world are created by using Linux. 

Earlier, Linux was more complicated than Windows, but with recent developments, it has become more user-friendly. Now, it is easy for any Windows user to switch to Linux.

Apart from security, it is also open-source, free and stable. Unlike Windows, you can view and modify the source code as per your needs. You don’t even have to pay for anything. You can access the majority of the basics and advanced software for free which reduces your cost significantly. 

Furthermore, it is not prone to crashes that makes it highly stable and fast. Lastly, it has a huge community for support, comes with easy maintenance, is highly customizable, and with recent applications, it has become very easy to use.

Read More: Learn Linux OS Basic Commands From Scratch

Now, let’s discuss the top IDEs & Editors 

Finally, it’s the time to know about some of the top IDEs & Code Editors used by Linux users for development in C or C++. Regardless of the popularity of the IDEs & Editors, your choice may vary while choosing the right one. It is mainly because of the fact that each one of them comes with own sets of advantages and disadvantages. In the end, it all depends upon the requirements as per your projects. 

CLion

clion

Type: IDE

License: Free & Paid

It is one of the most popular & heavily used IDE for C & C++ programming while using Linux. Apart from Linux, it can also be used for Windows & MacOS. This IDE is available in both free & paid versions (for commercial use). It is developed by one of the most famous companies called JetBrains. This IDE is more suitable for big projects rather than trying to learn C or C++.

Advantages:

  • Supports multiple languages like HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python, XML, Objective-C & others
  • Smart modern editor & embedded terminal
  • Debugging & syntax highlighting
  • Intelligence code completion
  • Numerous Plug-ins
  • Supports Git, CVS, perforce, TFS & Mercurial
  • Ideal for large-scale projects
  • Code generation & refactoring
  • Easy navigation to context usage or symbol declarations
  • Easily integrates with Google test frameworks

Disadvantages:

  • Not suitable for beginners
  • Slow
  • Not user-friendly
  • Proprietary & can cost up to $199
  • Supports only English

Download Link

Eclipse

eclipse

Type: IDE

License: Free & Open-Source

It is another well known C/C++ IDE for Linux that is used on a regular basis for programming. Eclipse is a very powerful and is used for other programming languages as well. This tool offers great GUI along with drag & drop functionality to the users. It comes handy for arranging interface elements.

Advantages:

  • Highly productive
  • Supports multiple languages & is cross-platform
  • Includes good debugger, compiler & syntax highlighter
  • Code auto-completion
  • Remote system explorer & profiling
  • Attractive GUI
  • Exclusive C/C++ development tools
  • Source code refactoring
  • Supports folding & hyperlink navigation
  • Availability of knowledge tools like in-built browser, macro definition browser, type hierarchy, call graph

Disadvantages:

  • Large size
  • Difficult to add plugins
  • Not ideal for low-end computers
  • Little slow

Download Link

Code::Blocks

codeblocks

Type: IDE

License: Free & Open-Source

As compared to others, it is a light-weight IDE that is used for programming in C, C++ and Fortran languages using Linux. It is also an open-source tool that allows you to make changes in the source code. Like the initial two, it is not that powerful but comes with all the required features, and is user-friendly. Code::Blocks also run smoothly on the majority of the systems.

Advantages:

  • Highly configurable & extensible
  • Lots of plugins
  • Consistent user interface
  • Includes multiple compilers
  • Syntax highlighting, debugger & auto code completion
  • Superfast
  • Multi-target projects 
  • Display local functions, symbols and arguments
  • Custom memory dump
  • Supports C, C++ & Fortran and multiple platforms

Disadvantages:

  • Poor code completion
  • Hard to make the code readable
  • More Complicated

Download Link

Visual Studio Code

Visual Studio Code

Type: Text Editor

License: Free & Open-Source

Note: Don’t confuse Visual Studio Code (Code Editor) with Visual Studio (IDE). A lot of top blogs suggest Visual Studio (IDE) for Linux OS, however, that is not the case. As of now, Visual Studio (IDE) is not compatible with Linux. It is Visual Studio Code (Code Editor) that is compatible with Linux and of course, Windows or macOS.

Though Visual Studio Code or VSC is developed by Microsoft, you can even use it for Linux OS for developing your C/C++ projects. The support for C/C++ is provided by a Microsoft C/C++ extension for all the platforms. Moreover, this code editor is known for its combination of simplicity and powerful developer tools. Other than VSC is lightning fast and is an option of choice for day-to-day usage.

Advantages:

  • Fast & Powerful
  • Supports multiple languages & platforms
  • Integrated debugging
  • Easy editing, building & debugging
  • Intelligent code completion, code refactoring and snippets
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Easy customization & portable

Disadvantages:

  • Embedded git isn’t powerful enough
  • Slow launch time & file search
  • Bad auto import
  • Not an IDE but a code editor

To know more about Visual Studio Code, you can read Visual Studio Code Is So Popular, But Why?”

Read More: Getting started with Visual Studio Code & Microsoft C/C++ extension

Read More: #15 VSCode Extensions for Front-End Developers

NetBeans

NetBeans

Type: IDE

License: Free & Open-Source

This IDE is another open-source tool for C/C++ development over Linux. It was developed by Apache Software Foundation, Oracle Corporation. As it also supports PHP & front-end development, NetBeans has gained its popularity among web developers. But actually it is its file navigation and remote development features that make it a good IDE for C/C++ programming in Linux. In the majority of the cases, programmers use NetBeans for Java development along with C/C++.

Advantages:

  • Supports multiple languages and different platforms
  • Debugger & intelligence code completion
  • Can create C/C++ apps with static and dynamic libraries
  • Code refactoring & unit testing
  • Qt toolkit support & is preferred for large-scale projects
  • Multiple compilers support like Oracle Solaris Studio, MinGW, GNU, Clang/LLVM & Cygwin
  • File navigation & source inspection
  • Support for code assistance & remote development

Disadvantages:

  • Heavy software
  • Takes time to load

Download Link

Atom Code Editor

Atom Homepage

Type: Text Editor

License: Free & Open-Source

Atom is a text editor that looks very minimal and supports various languages. This tool is open-source, highly customizable and modern. Its feature can be enhanced by adding and using any 3rd party packages. It can be done via the Atom’s package manager app. Just like Linux, Atom is equally used for Mac & Linux for C language programming. 

Advantages:

  • Open-source & easy to use
  • Built-in package manager
  • Smart auto-completion
  • Developer tools
  • Find & replace functionality 
  • Integrated file browser
  • Github support

Disadvantages:

  • Not ideal for large-scale projects
  • Cannot handle large files

Download Link

Sublime Text Editor

Sublime Text Homepage

Type: Text Editor

License: Free & Paid

Despite being a text editor instead of an IDE, it includes several features and is well-refined. It is designed for code, prose and markup. Programmers regularly use Sublime Text Editor for writing C/C++ code using Linux. Furthermore, it also offers great UI and allows users to add various community-built plugins for enhancing the existing functions.

Advantages:

  • Supports multiple languages & multi-platform compatible
  • Split editing
  • Fast & highly customizable
  • Supports many plugins
  • Multiple selections
  • Command palette
  • Distraction-free mode
  • Goto anything functionality
  • Project switching 

Disadvantages:

  • Stability issues
  • It’s not an IDE but a text editor
  • Inadequate language support

Download Link

CodeLite

codelite

Type: IDE

License: Free & Open-Source

CodeLite is an IDE that is known for its simplicity and lightweight. Some even consider it as the best C++ IDE as it is specifically developed for C/C++, PHP & JavaScript (Node.JS) programming. It gets regular updates and has good support on GitHub. This tool is also packed with 2 code completion engines that provide improved code completion and better suggestions.

Advantages:

  • Open-source & free
  • Supports different platforms 
  • Lot of plugins to choose from
  • Spell checker & supports static code analysis
  • Easy to find installed compilers like clang/VC++, GCC & others
  • Code navigation
  • Refactoring support
  • Built-in SFTP for remote development
  • Rapid development cycle
  • Modest memory footprint
  • Support for LLDB next generation debugger

Disadvantages:

  • Boring UI
  • Limited customization options

Download Link

Brackets

Brackets

Type: Text Editor

License: Free & Open-Source

It was developed by Adobe and is truly a modern, open-source text editor that understands web design. Though it is an editor, it is packed with several features similar to an IDE. Initially, it looks simple but you can easily extend its functionality by adding plugins. For C language, it comes with an extension pack that of course works more as an editor. Brackets is a perfect IDE for developers who are looking for all the features like any other IDE but also want a lightweight tool.

Advantages:

  • Open-source, free & cross-platform
  • Small size
  • Quick editing & highly extendable
  • Code completion
  • Easy to use the split window
  • Integrated built-in live browser

Disadvantages:

  • Some basic features are missing like indentation guides & automatic matching tags editing.
  • Can also be slow at times but no big deal
  • Not as actively updated

Download Link

KDevelop

Type: IDE

License: Free & Open-Source

It is a cross-platform IDE designed specifically for programming languages like C/C++, Python, JS & PHP. It is heavily used by Linux users for development purposes. This tool offers a seamless development environment for programmers regardless of their project size. 

Advantages:

  • Highly extensible & feature-rich
  • A lot of plugins option
  • Clang-based C/C++ plugin Support 
  • Supports different line editing & Grep view 
  • Uses widget for saving vertical space
  • Version Control Systems Support
  • Unit Test Integration & debugger support
  • Build Systems Support
  • Quick Code Navigation & Semantic Highlighting
  • Semantic Code Completion & Split Views

Disadvantages: 

  • It only supports six programming languages.
  • Not very customizable

Download Link

GNAT Programming Studio

GNAT Programming Studio

Type: IDE

License: Free & Paid

This tool is a complete IDE that is specially created for languages like Ada or C/C++. It comes with a wide range of tools that you can integrate without any difficulties. GNAT Programming Studio offers high-level programming for creating comprehensive systems.

Advantages:

  • Versatile & extensible
  • Highly customizable & developer-friendly
  • Intuitive user interface
  • Flexible multiple document interface
  • Debugger & built-in support for remote programming
  • Along with C/C++, it supports other languages like Python, Ada and others
  • Advanced code intelligence & navigation features
  • Easy integration of third-party version control systems

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult to find tutorials
  • Not good user community

Qt Creator

qt

Type: IDE

License: Free & Paid

It is a cross-platform IDE designed for creating UIs, applications and connected devices. It helps you to create more rather than just coding for the application. You can use it for creating desktop and mobile applications along with connected embedded devices.

Advantages:

  • Well-designed IDE for C++
  • Excellent documentation
  • Stable on all platforms & supports different languages
  • Version control & sophisticated code editor
  • Project & build management tools
  • Great syntax highlighting and auto-completion 
  • Supports CMake & built-in Qt GUI editor

Disadvantages:

  • Complex build process
  • Poor refactoring & multi-window mode support

Download Link

VIM Editor

VIM Homepage

Type: Text Editor

License: Free

This tool is an advanced & highly configurable text editor that is written in Vim Script & C language. Initially, it was mainly created for Unix but now, it supports various other platforms like Windows and others. Various programmers around the world consider Vim as the perfect tool for all kinds of text editing, from editing configuration files to composing emails. Lastly, it also offers many exciting features to Unix or Linux users and is considered good for programming in C/C++ language.

Advantages:

  • Free and open-source
  • Lightweight and fast
  • Powerful plugin model
  • Configuration portability 
  • Keyboard-based, mouse-free interface
  • Great productivity tool

Disadvantages:

  • Difficult learning curve
  • High effort to customize
  • Poor support for external tooling
  • Poor Feature Discoverability
  • Doesn’t play nice with the system cut/paste mechanisms 

Download Link

EMACS

Emacs Profile

Type: Text Editor

License: Free

Emacs is a text editor that is known for its extensibility. It is highly customizable, free, powerful and works on various platforms like Linux, Solaris, NetBSD, Mac, Windows or others. It is packed with some notable features that are liked by programmers all over the world.

Advantages:

  • Extensively customizable & extensible
  • Powerful editing capabilities
  • Full Unicode support
  • Good documentation
  • Content-sensitive editing modes
  • Packaging systems for downloading extensions & its installation

Disadvantages:

  • The steep learning curve for newcomers
  • Questionable ergonomics
  • You have to learn Emacs Lisp for making any customization
  • Not available everywhere by default

Download Link

Are you a Python developer? Don’t worry, we have your back too! You can check out this “Best IDEs and Code Editors for Python Developers”.

Conclusion

final thought

With all this, let’s end this list of best IDEs and text editors for C/C++ programming language using Linux. All of the tools mentioned above offer numerous exciting features that often confuses programmers to choose anyone for their project. However, if the requirement is clear then I don’t think there will be any difficulty while choosing the right one. Lastly, of course there are various other IDEs & Editors that programmers are using for development and if you think that we missed the important ones then do mention in the comment section below.

Till the next time, Keep Reading, Keep Learning & Keep Questioning!

Happy Reading!

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