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Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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Debian Reference
Chapter 11 - Editors


11.1 Popular editors

Linux offers many alternatives for console text editors. Among them:

  • vim: Powerful and light BSD-heritage editor. VI iMproved.

  • emacs: Ultimate and heavy GNU-heritage editor. RMS (Richard M. Stallman) original.

  • xemacs: Emacs: The Next Generation, originally from Lucid.

  • mcedit: Newbie GNU editor. Identical to mc internal editor. See Editor in MC, Section 4.2.5.

  • ae: Default small editor (Potato). Avoid this.

  • nano: Default small GNU editor (Woody). Emulates pico.

  • joe: For WordStar or TurboPascal old-timers.

  • jed: Fast, full-featured menu-driven editor with Emacs key bindings.

  • jove: Very small editor with Emacs key bindings.

  • nvi: New vi. Bug-for-bug compatible with the original vi.

Use update-alternatives --config editor to change the default editor. Also, many programs use environment variables EDITOR or VISUAL to decide which editor to use. See Editor in MC, Section 4.2.5.

Also a few X-based text editors are noteworthy:

  • gvim: Vim with GUI (vim and vim-gtk package)

  • emacs: The One True Emacs (auto-detect X).

  • xemacs: Next generation Emacs (auto-detect X).

These xclient commands take standard options such as -fn a24, which makes life easy for older folks like me :) See X clients, Section 9.4.4.


Debian GNU/Linux Reference Guide
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