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Every now and then there is a discussion on /g/ or /sci/ about note taking, notes, second brain or knowledge management systems (KMS). Latest thread is the start of this page. This page is meant to collect useful information and make sure future discussion keep progressing rather than noodling around in small circles. People talk a lot about KMS but usually it is too abstract stuff and colorful presentations with fashionable drop shadows, and when everything has been said and done, too much has been said and nothing has been done. That is why we are here. Also see this older note.


KMS is simply about collecting information so that you can easily retrieve it and also share it with other people. This sounds simple, and yellow post-its abound. The problem comes when you want to retrieve information and yellow notes do not scale. Instead you end up with the "sunflower syndrome" - yellow paper bits surround your monitor until it looks like a deranged sunflower. To retrieve information you need keywords, title, abstract, categories, and complexities quickly increases.

Common Features

Most offer one or more features along

  • Simple markup such as Wiki or Markdown, typically bold, italics, strike through, underlining
  • Notes
  • Outliners
  • Todo-lists
  • Meta data such as title, keywords, abstract, name and date of creation, name and date of editing etc.
  • Searching based on contents, metadata and folder
  • Linking to other pages
  • Importing contents such as images and documents
  • Annotations


For now just a list of various KMS that were brought up in these discussions.

Another notes app

Another notes app is an Android app that strives to provide a simple way to take notes.


BookStack is an open source self-hosted, easy-to-use platform for organizing and storing information.


CherryTree describes itself as a hierarchical note taking application, featuring rich text and syntax highlighting, storing data in a single xml or sqlite file. It is open source.


Dendron describes itself as an open-source, local-first, markdown-based, note-taking tool. It's a personal knowledge management solution (PKM) built specifically for developers and integrates natively with IDEs like VS Code and VSCodium


Denote is simple notes for Emacs with an efficient file-naming scheme.


Foam describes itself as a personal knowledge management and sharing system inspired by Roam Research, built on Visual Studio Code and GitHub.


GoodNotes is a commercial notetaking app with PDF annotations for iPad, iPhone, and Mac.


ImapNotes2 is an Android app that permits to sync notes between an Android device and an IMAP server in an apple way. ie the way iPhone notes are synced with an IMAP server.


Joplin is an open source note-taking app. Web pages can be saved as notes and notes can be shared via the cloud. It is cross platform, with clients for Windows, macOS, Linux, Android and iOS. Its internal database can be synced without external botnets using tools of your choosing.


[https://jrnl.sh/en/stable/ Jrnl is a simple journal application for the command line. Journals are stored as human-readable plain text, and can also be encrypted using AES encryption.

Kolab Notes

Kolab Notes is an Andriod App for taking notes locally and optionally sync them with Kolab and IMAP servers in the Kolab v3 storage format.


LaaNo is an Android app to bind Notes to Links and, at the same time, providing independent access to them.


Logseq describes itself as a privacy-first, open-source knowledge base, a joyful, open-source outliner that works on top of local plain-text Markdown and Org-mode files

NoNonsense Notes

NoNonsense Notes is a notepad and todo list Android app. It is replaced by Orgzly, an outliner for taking notes and managing to-do lists where notebooks are saved in Org mode’s file format (see below).

Markdown Memo

Markdown Memo describes itself as a knowledge base with bidirectional links built on top of VSCode. Is is inspired by Obsidian.md and RoamResearch.


MarkText is an MIT licensed open source project. It support CommonMark Spec, GitHub Flavored Markdown Spec and selective support Pandoc markdown with markdown extensions such as math expressions (KaTeX), front matter and emojis.

Memex Garden

Memex Garden (formerly Worldbrain.io) is in beta but offers presently "Collaboratively Curating, Annotating and discussing websites & PDFs" and interfaces with other systems such as YouTube and Roam/Notion/Evernote via Readwise.


Mymind is a non-collaborative system described as "notes bookmarks, inspiration, articles and images in one single, private place, enhanced with artificial intelligence."


Napkin is a system to collect and reflect thoughts.


nb is an open source command line and local web note‑taking, bookmarking, archiving, and knowledge base application with many features including bookmarking and plugins.


Notejot describes itself as "Stupidly simple notes app."


Notes is an open source multi platform note taking system for QT, that has both folders and tags.


Notion is a collaborative document/note taking system with a workflow. Data is in the cloud and people complain about reliability. When the cloud is gone the sun shines over your empty workspace.


Obsidian is a KMS based on local files written in Markdown. There is also graphics to show how things are interrelated. Export is not completed yet.

OneNote (Microsoft)

OneNote is a digital notebook from Microsoft, and is often available with Office installations. Linux versions are not available. OneNote 2016, an older version, and native Windows program, allows storing OneNote files on Dropbox. It comes with Office 2019 VL.

Org Mode

Org mode for Emacs is a plain text major mode for keeping notes, to-do lists, and more. It provides for metadata such as title, author and date. One can use org-fragtog for inline LaTeX rendering. One anon published his init.el

Org Roam

Org Roam describes itself as a tool for networked thought. It reproduces some of Roam Research’s 1 key features within Org-mode. It is open source.


Org Roam UI describes itself as a graphical frontend for your org-roam Zettelkasten. Note that Org-roam-ui tries to keep up with the latest features of org-roam, which conflicts with Doom Emacs's desire for stability.


Orgzly is a free outliner for taking notes and managing to-do lists with specialized search functionality, where notebooks are written as plain text files in Org mode file format. This can be synced with many existing systems.

Paper (Gnome)

Paper is a note taking app for Gnome. Some report there are still a few bugs.


Simplenote is a multi platform note taking application.


Sublime Outline Notes Publisher lets you publish HTML pages using tab indented notes or markdown (md). It is also an outliner, and static site generator.


TiddlyWiki is a single page application (SPA) that implements a wiki on a file.

Tomboy (Gnome)

Tomboy describes itself as "Tomboy is a desktop note-taking application for Linux, Unix, Windows, and Mac OS X. Simple and easy to use, but with potential to help you organize the ideas and information you deal with every day." It has Wiki style linking and add-ins. Note Tomboy is well know even though it is no longer maintained and replaced by Tomboy-ng.


TreeSheets descibes itself as a "hierarchical spreadsheet" that is a great replacement for spreadsheets, mind mappers, outliners, PIMs, text editors and small databases. It is open source.


Trilium Notes is a hierarchical note taking application with focus on building large personal knowledge bases. It features note versioning, where note attributes can be used for note organization, querying and advanced scripting.


Typora is a minimal markdown editor. Files can be saved to Git.


Roam describes itself in a whitepaper as an online workspace for organizing and evaluating knowledge that is built on a directed graph.


VimWiki is a simple local wiki with a search engine.


Xournal++ is an open source multi platform tool for handwritten input with annotations.


Zettelkasten is a complete and complex system from reading and writing to management of knowledge. It takes the no-hierarchy approach to knowledge management.


Zettlr is another open source notebook with markdown


ZimWiki states: "Zim is a graphical text editor used to maintain a collection of wiki pages."

Reference Management Systems

These are systems with a focus on handling references to and between document. Note that the Wikipedia article on comparison of these is having trouble with Wikipedia gatekeepers, and is also out of date.


Zotero is an open source reference management tool to help you collect, organise, annotate, cite, and share research and documents. There was a major upgrade recently.

Specialised Systems

Hydrus Network

From the home page: "The hydrus network client is a desktop application written for Anonymous and other internet enthusiasts with large media collections. It organises your files into an internal database and browses them with tags instead of folders, a little like a booru on your desktop. Tags and files can be anonymously shared through custom servers that any user may run."


Shaarli is a personal bookmark manager written in PHP. It integrates into any modern browser using a JS bookmarklet and allows the user to apply thumbnails, tags and Markdown descriptions to bookmarks. It can also store tagged notes in Markdown, which are just bookmarks without a URL. It's private by default, but you can expose part of your bookmarks as public. Your friends can follow your public bookmark feed over the built-in RSS feed.


RemNote is a tool for thinking and learning, with flashcards, PDFs and backlinks.


Knowledge can be illustrated by various tools such as Freeplane, Graphviz and more, but will quickly run into the problem of connecting lines piling up like mats.


Often it is useful to sync data between devices. This is often a paid for feature in freemium products. Free alternatives exist, such as Syncthing.

Organizing Files

It is not always convenient to store all files inside the KMS, some times the file system is better. That still leaves you with the problem of how to do that and importantly how to structure the dirfectories and sub directories. Once upon a time we were promised that fast sorting would solve all problems, and just for most other grandiose and overly generalised claims, also this collapsed. The problem is that now we have a generation that does not know you can add sub directories to your messy /Documents catalog. Some notes:

  • Start early. Sorting out a mess after it has started festering is time consuming
  • Define a structure. The entire purpose of it all is to retrieve data

Johnny Decimal

One scheme is Johnny Decimal number system with a 10 x 10 numbered structure. There is also a collection of zsh functions to work with Johnny Decimal.


This is a start. We need a lot more.