Favorite Linux CLI Apps: Emacs

02.19.10

Emacs text editor (also known as emacs21-nox*)

[*The GNU Emacs editor without X support] is not usually part of a distro install—but it should be.  When you need to quickly edit a text or config file, a shell command can open the file, let you save changes, and then return you to the shell prompt.  Default console-based text editors (pre installed) are vi or nano.  I’ve tried them both.  I like emacs better.  At the time of writing, Synaptic in Crunchbang Linux 9.04 shows the console emacs as “emacs21-nox”

There are split camps and heavy debates as to which is better.  Just google  “vi vs emacs”.  It is useless for me to jump on the debate bandwagon.  Just know that they are similar, but operate differently.  Both edit and save text in a console/terminal.  Both offer no formatting or styling like a GUI word processor.  However, vi is a “modal editor” meaning that you switch back and forth between “insert mode” (for typing) and “command mode” (to issue file, search, or text-related commands.  Emacs is all one mode, where keystroke combos invoke commands.

Forget the evangelism or the “he said/she said bull$h1t”.  Try them both and see what you like.  You can always uninstall an unwanted application program with Synaptic.

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