Turtl: A Secure Open-Source Evernote Alternative for Linux

There’s no denying the fact that Evernote – with more than 150 million users – is one of the most popular note-taking applications in the world, but one should keep in mind that the data you store stays unencrypted by default. This means that any successful hacking attempt may put your data in the wrong hands.

If you’re on Linux and are looking for a secure, encrypted alternative to Evernote, you’ll be glad to know that we’ll be discussing one such application in this article – it’s called Turtl. Please note that all the instructions and commands used in this article have been tested on Ubuntu 16.04.

Turtl is an open-source, cross-platform application that lets you – for example – take notes, bookmark websites, store documents, and even¬†share stuff with other users, all without compromising your privacy. The service creates a cryptographic key using your sign-up password and uses this key to encrypt your data before storing it anywhere. Turtl doesn’t store your password and your key, meaning your data can only be accessed by you or the people you share it with.

As the application is open source, it would be reasonable to assume that bugs get fixed comparatively more quickly. Plus, you can also get the code audited anytime you want. Another thing worth mentioning here is that Turtl’s code is licensed GPLv3 which means you can download and run your own Turtl server personally or in your company’s Intranet.

Downloading and installing Turtl is really easy. All you have to do is head to the download page on the project’s website, and download the source code for your system. For example, I downloaded the “Linux x32” package.

Once done, uncompress the archive, enter the main directory, and run the “install.sh” file with root permissions:

sudo ./install.sh

This should install the tool on your system. Now, to run Turtl, just execute the following command:

/opt/turtl/turtl

When the app is first launched, you’ll be prompted to create an account.

turtl-first-launch

Before you create your login, Turtl will clearly tell you that the app doesn’t store your login information anywhere. This means that if you forget your username or password, you’ll not have¬†access to your account, ever.

turtl-create-login

Once your login is created successfully, you’ll land on the application’s home page where you’ll see three tabs: All notes, Boards, and Sharing. The first one is selected by default.

turtl-home-screen

To create a note, click the circular button (with ‘+’ inside it) located on the bottom right of the application window. You’ll be given options for various kinds of notes that you can create.

turtl-create-note

For example, I tried creating a text note first.

turtl-test-note

And this is how it showed up after creation.

turtl-test-note-created

Next, I went ahead and created other types of notes as well.

turtl-multiple-notes

Moving on, the second tab – Boards – contains some pre-defined categories for your notes.

turtl-boards

These are just like tags that you can attach to your note so that it becomes easy to find later on. For example, I added the image note that I created in the previous step to the “Photos” category.

turtl-boards-photo-added

Of course, you can create new Boards if you want.

Now, coming to the third and the final tab (Sharing), here you can create a persona if you want to enable sharing with other users.

turtl-sharing

By default, your Turtl account is private. However, you can change this by creating a persona which effectively gives your account a face (basically a name and email) that people can use to find you and securely share stuff with you.

Here’s the persona I created.

turtl-persona-created

Keep in mind that sharing is done only on a board basis. This means you cannot share a single note, until of course you put it in a board and share that board.

Turtl offers what it promises: a secure and encrypted alternative to Evernote. Of course, it may not contain all the features that you desire, but with security and privacy in place, new features can be added any time. If you were looking for such an application, I’d encourage you to give Turtl a try.

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