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Re: Editor wars considered harmful

On Mon, 23 Jun 1997, Bruce Perens wrote:

> The problem is that no editor is popular with everyone, and nobody is
> learning VI any longer, and Emacs isn't so popular either.

lots of people are learning still vi nowadays for pretty much the same
reasons that they learnt it in the past: it's small, it's lean, it's
fast, it's powerful, it does regular expressions, it's flexible, it's on
every unix system (and many other systems too), AND it's the only thing
that's actually USABLE over a slow network connection.

(slow being anything with, say, greater than 200ms ping times. e.g. a
ppp/slip modem connection, a machine that's 10 or 15 hops away over
the internet, a machine that's 1 hop away over a completely flooded

> The solution is to put up a menu of check-boxes of what editor you
> want, and install it from packages as soon as possible after the
> system is installed. Adding editors to the base is a slippery slope.

yes, there should be a veritable plethora of editors available for
installation AFTER the base system is up and running. The more the

The base system should have ae (or similar newbie editor like pico) and
the smallest possible implementation of vi that works.


If something has to go to make room for it on the disks, then so be it.

There's lots of non-essential bloat that can go. e.g. there's quite a
bit of necessary documentation which is useful for getting the system
up to a point where it can install the rest of the packages. This
stuff should undoubtedly stay. However, there's also a lot of extra
documentation which could/should be installed later with the rest of the
packages.  This can go if space is tight.

This can easily be automated with debian's packaging system - just make
the debian version number on the base disks -0 or something, and it will
be upgraded to the latest version with full docs when dselect is run.

> The reason you add one is just as good to add the next...

No it's not.

The reason for installing vi is that it is THE standard editor for all
unixes. It is the one editor which is guarranteed to be on ANY unix

Having a version of vi (no matter how primitive) available for initial
system config and install is essential.


craig sanders
networking consultant                  Available for casual or contract
temporary autonomous zone              system administration tasks.

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