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Bug#2871: vipw depends on vi

Guy Maor <maor@ece.utexas.edu> said:

> I hate it too.  How about if I only call ae if I can't find vi?

Chiming in from the sidelines, it seems that a program specifically
named vipw should specifically use vi,  and should whine and exit if
it can't be found.

If it's called something like editpw, OTOH, it seems as if it
should examine the $EDITOR and $VISUAL variables and use what's
specified there, perhaps with a default if they're found not set,
and should whine if the editor it looks for can't be found.

Taking this as a base position, and factoring in the idea that
ae(1) is the Debian fallback editor (until we decide to change
to some other fallback editor, that is, which could happen at
some point), it seems that there should be a mechanism for
getting $EDITOR and/or $VISUAL set to ae.

Well, there's /etc/profile and /etc/skel/.bash_profile (and
other files with like purposes for other shells).  My understanding
is that these are the usual mechanisms for this.

It looks to me as if there ought to be a base package which provides
an initialization file which is specific to a particular distribution
release, and that this file should name the default fallback editor for
that particular distribution release (/bin/ae for Debian 1.1, AFAIK).
Further, there should be a Guidlines requirement (an oxymoron, that)
that shell packages use the contents of this file to set the
default contents of the EDITOR and VISUAL environment variables.

That makes much more sense to me than twiddling the internals
of application-level packages to hardcode in ae as the default
editor -- especially considering that it's not impossible that
the default editor might change to xyzzy in a year, with X number
of application-level packages already fielded which hardcode it as ae.

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