Subject: Re: RFC: Simple screen editor for NetBSD
To: <>
From: David Forbes <>
List: current-users
Date: 01/08/2000 10:57:19
Dear All,

I wasn't going to get involved in this one but the repeated assertion of:

"Those who can't handle vi can't handle configuring a Unix system"

I find this just a small amount of rubbish.  Configuring a Unix system
isn't magic.  Many aspects have similarities or analogies on other OSs.
(My other OS has a virtually *identical* resolv.conf, for example.) But vi
is strange when you see it for the first time, having used many other
editors.  Allow me to illustrate the problem:

When I first came to NetBSD, I came to it as the only (free or otherwise)
Unix system that supported my hardware.  This was my first Unix system.
Let's face it everyone has their first time.  The system started, detected
all my hardware (well, nearly all, there was a small issue with the
mouse). And then, when I thought I'd cleared all the hurdles (and I'd had
quite a few):

"rc.conf is not configured....

Leaving me with a naked hash prompt and a disfunctional backspace key.
Eventually I found vi and loaded rc.conf (after "cat"ting lots of things
in /etc to work out what I needed to edit).  And what happened.  It
bleeped at me repeatedly.  (This was especially annoying as my system was
bleeping an 8 bit sample through a 16 bit sound system, resulting in a
horrific crashing sound.)  And I comprehensively failed to edit anything.
In fact, ISTR not being able to exit and having to power cycle my machine.
vi was like nothing I'd ever seen before.

In the end I managed to set rc_configured=YES by copying rc.conf to
another OS on the machine (not Windows before you all scream!), edit it
using something called !Zap, and then copy it back.

Once I'd got the system up and running properly, I was able to use an
editor of my choice to deal with the stuff in /etc, which by and large is
self-documenting.  Since then, I have actually learnt basic usage of vi,
and I know a lot of people like it, but initially confronted with it, with
no obvious way of learning it, I was forced to work around it.

The key is: If we must have vi, GIVE US A CLUE!  Some basic notes on eg
how to insert, delete and exit vi when failing due rc_configured=NO would
help.  Novice Unix users are not stupid, and whilst I have learnt a lot in
the two years since the experience described above, the way I configure
rc.conf on a new machine has changed very little.

Neither has my habit of installing joe, fairly early on.

Just my 0.02UKP,


PS - If Santa could have brought me anything this year, I'd have asked for
!Zap for NetBSD, but that's another story...