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Re: Vi and Emacs

Keith O'Connell <keith_oconnell@blueyonder.co.uk> [2002-08-16 10:35:13 +0100]:
> bob@proulx.com (Bob Proulx) wrote:
> > A long treatise on update-alternatives follows...
> Wow! When you answer a question you don't mess about.

:-) When I first started using Debian the alternatives system was
unknown to me.  Therefore at times I would be confused by it.  At
first I extremely disliked that this was implemented.  What a
confusing mess of symlinks to symlinks!  But one day I decided to dig
into the alternatives system and learn more about it.  After I
discovered how it worked I found it very clever.  It solves a problem
of how to allow a system to be tailored to fit particular needs and
still distribute it widely.  I wanted to share that learning so that
others would find it clever as well.

OT but related to alternatives: I recommend 'apt-get install gawk' to
get GNU awk installed instead of mawk as the alternative for the awk
program.  Now that you understand the alternatives system that should
make sense to you.  With that install gawk will push out mawk as the
normal awk.  [Say that three times fast.  And people say engineers
have no social skills.]  gawk is not a default Debian install package.
If you want it you have to ask for it.  As is true of everything.
mawk is default apparently because it is much smaller in package size.

> I take from the answer you gave that at user/keystroke level
> 	vi <=> nvi
> 	nvi is a subset of (any other vi clone)


> That being the case if I can do it in nvi, I will be able to do it
> in any other vi substitute I come across. I think that I will
> update-alternatives --config vi to nvi and run the tutorials.

That would give you the purest configuration.  Go for it.

However, any of the alternatives *should* be good enough for the
tutorials.  Most of the subtle differences shouldn't be apparent in
any of the basic getting started commands that a tutorial would teach.
You should be able to run through any getting of those with any of the
alternatives that I know about.  Of course some details will be

Generally if you do find a difference it won't be too big of a deal as
long as you know they might be there.  It is only if you don't know
that different programs have enhanced vi differently that confusion
results.  For example, the area of cutting and pasting from deletion
buffers will vary widely.  Classic vi has only one level of delete
buffer and undo while vim has multiple levels.  To acquire multiple
levels of undo most people will accept some variance from the normal.


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