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WikidPad on Ubuntu

The other day I was bumming around on IRC, decidedly not doing any sort of writing at all, when I happened across a conversation between several Internet folk about nothing other than writing software! One of these fine IRC-persons mentioned that they found a program called WikidPad most useful in keeping their thoughts straight. WikidPad, in a similar fashion as my note-keeping program of choice, Zim Wiki, acts as a personal wiki for your thoughts. It has an advantage over actual server-side wiki software, such as MediaWiki, in that it is easy to set up and everything is kept locally on your computer. However, the main advantage of using a wiki – being able to create separate pages and link them together at will – is preserved.

Doubtful I would find a program to replace my beloved Zim, I decided to give it a whirl anyway. Unfortunately WikidPad isn’t the most straightforward of installs, which is why I’ve chosen to spend this post talking about the actual steps I took to get the program up and running.

For Windows users, WikidPad comes with a single binary installer that takes care of anything for you. But if you’ve so much as read the title of this fine blog, you know we’re not dealing with something so simple as that. No, we Linux users get treated to a lovely little zip file of python code!

The first thing to do, of course, is to grab the zip file from WikidPad’s home page and extract it somewhere. Be careful, though, as this is one of those zip files you’ll want to unzip into a separate folder, lest the source files scatter everywhere in your Downloads folder. (Alas, I speak from experience.)

Next you’ll need to download one of WikidPad’s dependencies – wxPython. Open up a terminal and type in the following:

sudo apt-get install python-wxversion

After that, you can start up WikidPad by using cd to navigate to the folder you extracted its files to and running the command

python WikidPad.py

But let’s be honest, that’s pretty lame. We’re in Unity here with a fancy launcher and dashboard – we can do better than running a command every time we want to it up! So instead, open your favorite text editor and let’s make a really simple script called WikidPad.sh:

cd ~/Downloads/WikidPad
python WikidPad.py

With the first line modified to reflect wherever you dumped the WikidPad files, of course. Once you save it, don’t forget to make the script executable:

chmod +x WikidPad.sh

Now let’s add this to the Unity dashboard. Search for a program called “Main Menu.”

If, for whatever reason, you don’t have it, you can also find it in the Ubuntu Software Center. Open it up, click “New Item,” and write the full path to your bash script under “Command”.

Press “OK,” and WikidPad will be available in the dashboard.

Magic!

And now, having gotten this far, I might just see what the program’s actually like. Who knows!