Archive for June, 2009

The war that I did not know of

Monday, June 29th, 2009

It is kind of strange. The war has been on for thirty years. Although I am ambivalent towards the two warring parties, I am unwittingly attached to one of them and so I become a party to it. I came to know of it only accidentally when I saw this. Alarmed, I did some more googling. Oh my God!, they have been fighting over this for around thirty years.

I learned vi when I started using Unix in the mid-eighties. If I remember correctly, I learned it quite fast. I was using line editors; it was a big step forward. I liked the twenty six buffers for cut and paste (can you believe it?). I think everybody needs more than one and two or three buffers are quite handy. The dot command to repeat the last edit was particularly helpful. And the tilde command to change case was just like magic. The editor, by default, started in editing mode and you just cant enter some text by mistake. If in doubt, press ESC. Great. What more can one ask for.

I got so used to vi that even if I had to make a document, I would initially type in and then copy and paste to the word processor. And recently, when a customer insisted on software development under Eclipse, I completed the work using vi and at end, re-built the software under Eclipse to meet the project requirement.

Although I was using vi all these years, I was aware of people in high places, using Emacs and avoiding the company of those who used vi. I thought of trying Emacs but it seemed a lot of new stuff to be learned and since vi was working so well, I never felt the need of any other editor. I had a feeling that even if I learned some other editor, in the end, I would come back to vi. Why go round in circles? Or ellipses?

But now, as I get more deep into FOSS, I think I should at least learn Emacs and then make a learned decision, whether to use vi or Emacs. Will I find Emacs more suitable to my interest? Or will, in the end, I decide that vi is simple light-weight and fast? I will know in about a fortnight.