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Ever since its release in late 1999, GNU Nano has set new standards for ease-of-use for terminal-based text editors. Since then, it has seen multitudes of releases, the latest of which is the brand-new version 6.0.

While not necessarily the most feature-packed release, it does have a few key improvements. Let’s take a look at some of them!

Key Improvements in Nano 6.0

Some of the main highlights of this release, as stated in the release notes, are:

  • 14 new color names to select from
  • The ability to define colors by their #rgb codes
  • A new option to devote the whole terminal to editing

One of the main new features in Nano 6.0 is the inclusion of 14 new color names that can be selected from. The new options are rosy, beet, plum, sea, sky, slate, teal, sage, brown, ocher, sand, tawny, brick, and crimson.

If names aren’t for you, Nano 6.0 also includes a new way to specify colors: their RGB codes. However, as the more knowledgeable of you may know, most terminals are only capable of displaying a maximum of 256 colors. To help circumvent this, Nano finds the closest supported color to the one you entered, using that as a substitute.

Finally, we now have a new option to devote the whole screen to editing. The new --zero option hides all the UI elements, including the title bar, status bar, and help lines, leaving the entire screen to be used for editing. For me, this is by far the most useful new feature of this release, especially as the default size of many terminal emulators is so small.

Installing Nano 6.0

As a brand-new release, it is unlikely that we will be seeing Nano 6 in any distribution’s repositories for the next few weeks at least. As always, Arch Linux is most likely to be the first to get the update, followed by Manjaro and other rolling release distros.

For Ubuntu users, I would expect that the soonest Nano 6 will be available is in the upcoming 22.04 LTS version, slated for release near the end of April 2022.

If that is too long for you, you could also try downloading building it from source. However, I cannot recommend this option as it means that Nano isn’t updated by your package manager (among other reasons).

Overall, it seems Nano 6.0 is a small, but useful release with a few new features and upgrades. What are your thoughts on the new release? Will you be upgrading to Nano 6.0?

If you are new to it, please check our beginner’s guide to Nano editor.

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