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How to Choose an Editor
Surprise! We already picked one for you.

And, if you're a serious Unix weenie, you'll probably hate it. However, since you're such a data stud, we figure you already know how to change your default editor. So, for everyone else, we chose the easiest editor we know of, proven to generate the smallest number of user complaints. It's called pico and it comes with the mail reader/poster pine.

Of course, we have to have other editors or we'd be facing mobs of angry users gathering in our parking lot, waving torches and pitchforks. We currently support vi (or, rather, two mutant forms of vi, called nvi and elvis), as well as emacs and joe.

pico
Our favorite editor for new users, because it is absurdly easy and the commands are always listed at the bottom of your screen.
vi
Stands for 'visual interface' to ex, which was the really new and crufty editor for Unix, as opposed to vi, which, by comparison, is new and modern and shiny. It is the epitome of naming commands for famous letters and numbers, most of which are hard to remember and look like: "cy`x". The most important information we can give you about vi is how to exit it without having to shoot your terminal: type ":ZZ".

More about vi.

The command "vi" actually calls up nvi, a somewhat-improved version of vi. However, we also support elvis, which is a differently- improved vi. Which is better? It depends. Some of the more advanced features of the original vi are better supported by nvi, and nvi also does file recovery the same way as the original. But elvis may work better if your terminal emulation is VT100 or similar. To try it, just type elvis filename instead of vi filename.

emacs
It's an editor! No, it's an operating system! In addition to being an editor, emacs can be used to read news (gnus.el), connect to MOOs and MUDs (mud.el), perform floating point arithmatic (float.el) and recycle used coffee grounds (recycle.el). With a built-in LISP interpreter, it is configurable and programmable to the point that it can, for instance, be used to emulate vi (vi.el). Like many Unix programs, emacs is a religion and a way of life.
Again, the most important information we can give you is how to get out. Type: -X -C. Also, for some twisted reason, emacs responds only to ^? as a delete character; ^H gets you help, of a sort.
joe
An editor highly reminiscent of WordStar.


Last revised August 29, 2000