Actual Email about emacs and vi


Subject: Re: The UNIX-Haters’ Handbook? (was Re: Who are the most obnoxious computer groupies?)

Matthew Crosby wrote:
>In article ,
>Loren Petrich wrote:
>> In my experience, vi is the absolute worst full-screen
>>(character-mode GUI) text editor I have *ever* used.
>> [ and so on in the anti-vi mode … ]
>vi has the fastest, most efficient keybindings around.
> [ and so on in the pro-vi mode … ]

Harley Hahn’s book _Unix Unbound_ (which I recommend, BTW,
to anyone learning Unix) has chapters on vi and emacs. The
vi chapter contains the following paragraph:

HINT: If you are learning vi and you become temporarily
discouraged, take a break and try a little emacs. emacs
will seem so complex and impossible that you will feel a
lot better about using vi.

While the emacs chapter contains this one:

HINT: If you are learning emacs and you become temporarily
discouraged, take a break and try a little vi. vi
will seem so complex and impossible that you will feel a
lot better about using emacs.

Says it all really, doesn’t it? 🙂

Totally stolen from The Linux and Unix Menagerie


  1. #1 mikey.duhhh
    March 9, 2009

    Use nano. At least you don’t have to memorize all the key bindings.

  2. #2 Matthew Platte
    March 9, 2009

    My current favorite vi-toy is the NERDTree plugin.

  3. #3 Nathan Myers
    March 9, 2009

    Not everybody is smart enough to take advantage of the power of vi or emacs. Of those who are, some will find emacs more engaging; others will find that vi helps them work faster. For everybody else, don’t even bother trying; use whatever toy seems comfyest.

    Me, I mostly use vi running withing emacs, in “viper-mode”.

  4. #4 Notagod
    March 9, 2009

    But if you know emacs you get the kitchen sink as a bonus!

  5. #5 me
    March 9, 2009

    ed is the standard UNIX editor.

  6. #6 Virgil Samms
    March 9, 2009

    Are there really people who do not know that there are other (and better) editors in the world besides emacs and vi?

  7. #7 lylebot
    March 9, 2009

    I use vi on my 24″ iMac.

  8. #8 C. Chu
    March 9, 2009

    Emacs is for noobs, and so is vi. Ed is a step up but not by much. Everyone knows that real programmers use cat. Or butterflies, but you can do that with emacs.

  9. #9 386sx
    March 10, 2009

    Just use viper-mode if emacs seems too complicated for people.

    Why would anybody want NERDTree plugin, when they could just use dired or, better yet, Windows explorer?

    Did you guys know that Eclipse doesn’t have word-wrapping? True story! They’re workin on it…

  10. #10 DouglasG
    March 10, 2009

    Wait? There are other editors besides vi? Why would there need to be others?

  11. #11 Nathan Myers
    March 10, 2009

    Doug: Editors other than vi exist for the same reason as goats.

  12. #12 Brian X
    March 11, 2009

    You know, it occurs to me that anyone still fighting the vi vs. Emacs war is living so far in the distant past that I’m surprised they can operate a web browser. I said it in the last thread and I’ll say it again: a (small)pox on both your houses.

  13. #13 lylebot
    March 11, 2009

    Brian X: I agree completely. Anyone who hasn’t permanently switched to vi after all these years is beyond help.

  14. #14 Greg Laden
    March 11, 2009

    Of course I can operate a web browser!!!! Just type lynx at the command prompt.