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Re: Adding a simple editor to the base system

On 11-Feb-2009, at 2:43 AM, Alan Barrett wrote:

I think that the desktop NetBSD project should strive to ensure that the
system can be installed and configured without needing to use any line
mode or curses mode text editor.

Indeed. I sure as heck don't have to edit any text files to configure a Mac!

I think that having a very simple and
easy to use curses mode text editor in base (and in /rescue) addresses
a different audience;

Actually I think anything other than ed(1) or vi(1) would cater to entirely the wrong kinds of goals.

Also, even vi(1) will only work if the terminal emulation is 100% predictable _and_ the TERM variable is already correctly set. That's why ed(1) is still _the_ prime (and only sane) choice for an editor to be used for simple configuration tasks that may have to be done in what may be the harshest of operating environments.

ed(1) is the best choice for anyone and everyone to learn to use even for simple editing jobs. It is specified by widely implemented standards and it should be available everywhere. Every other conceivable editor, including vi(1) now with its many variants, will vary in availability and functionality between platforms.

it's hard to predict when an inexperienced user
will need to edit configuration files in an emergency, but it could
easily happen on a server that doesn't have any kind of desktop package
installed.  For example, think of a person unfamiliar with unix acting
as remote hands to edit config files under telephonic supervision from a
person familiar with the problem at hand.

In that case I would like to suggest that I've learned from my many years of experience that it is mandatory that the inexperienced remote- controlled user use an editor that the person instructing them "blind" is _very_ familiar with. I.e. since the experienced person is unlikely to have ever used any trivial editor they will be unable to properly guide the person doing the work. Even a trivial editor can screw things up beyond remote blind repair with just a few keystrokes. Key-for-key instruction works equally well with ed, vi, emacs, whatever, just so long as the instructor is intimately familiar with the editor.

As for what constitutes a simple, easy-to-use, full-screen terminal terminal-based text editor, well I'd say it has to have at minimum a working undo function, as well as of course really-good built-in help and tutorial functions. Zile comes to mind, though it's meta-key feature seems broken in xterms right now.

It is also my strong opinion that easyedit is a not a very good example of a text editor of any kind, simple and basic or otherwise.

                                        Greg A. Woods; Planix, Inc.

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