Why Vim? Better yet, why a text editor [Emacs, Nano, etc.] in general?

Forum Forums General Software Why Vim? Better yet, why a text editor [Emacs, Nano, etc.] in general?

  • This topic has 8 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated Sep 3-10:25 am by masinick.
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    This following thread is not intended to be another wasted Vim VS. Emacs debate! I have absolutely no horse OR dog in this race whatsoever.

    This thread is about myself wondering what was ever the purpose of a text editor in the first place. Do not worry, I know the difference between text editing and word processing. I just need to be [re-]educated about why I need to have a text editor. If a text editor can be use to type up essays, when what was the point for the invention of a word processor?

    And since AntiX is a primary distro for most of us, why exact was Vim [specially Vim.tiny] the choosen advanced text editor to be pre-installed?

    • This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by TonyVanDam.
    • This topic was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by TonyVanDam. Reason: spell check!
    Forum Admin

    vim.tiny – no idea, but its a favorite of coders. geany is the default gui text editor, which also has some very nice advanced features for coding.

    as to word processors vs. text editors…well just look at the formatting options in word processors vs. the formatting options in straight text editors and you’ll see right away that they have vastly different purposes. text editors do just that, edit plain text (many don’t even offer printing as an option). word processors edit text, plus offer a tremendous amount of formatting for the creation of documents, originally especially for printed documents for human consumption (images, art, fancy fonts, etc…).

    word processors blur the line into desktop-publishing rather than just edit plain text. the best plain-text editors typically offer features useful for coding, like code completion and highlighting. sure you can type your manifesto or next-great-novel in a text editor (and some authors do practice “distraction free writing”), but the experience for the bulk of humanity is going to be better in a word processor designed for the job.

    so basically…use the right tool for the write job.


    “The goal of antiX is to provide a light, but fully functional and flexible free operating system”

    With those design goals in mind, software such as a word processor (or a desktop environment) run against the grain.

    Neither is light, in comparison to a text editor (or a window manager). And, in functional terms, you can do pretty much anything with Vim (and related tools) that you can do with Libre Writer. Generally speaking, you can find a CLI way to do anything you can do in a GUI.

    Legal disclaimer: Steep learning curves may apply.

    Edit: Vim is a CLI text editor. There are GUI ones too (I like Pluma.) Word processors are usually thought of as GUI only products, and what I wrote above goes along with that idea. However, in exploring a bit of AntiX history this morning, I came across a reference to a CLI word processor that apparently used to ship with AntiX by default in the version 12 days. It’s called Wordgrinder, and I pulled it out of the repos just now to give it a try.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 5 months ago by kernelkurtz.

    As far as size, speed, functionality, and convenience, the relative speed and power of computer systems, even “old systems” that are five or more years old have grown so much that what was “small” in the distant past is minuscule today.

    AntiX supports a wider range of systems than ever before and still includes minimal configurations, but like most technology, it has grown. For the experts who really want the most minimal configuration possible, the “Core” variation allows true “Do It Yourself” (DIY) capabilities.

    Base offers an “in between” compromise, and Full is a complete, but still nominal and configurable solution for today’s aging computer systems.

    Full offers a lot more software included than older implementations, making it a bit easier to learn, though it is not as small and nimble as it was 5 years ago.

    Brian Masinick


    This is why both editors and word processors are now available and included in the full version.

    Brian Masinick

    Forum Admin

    I guess repairing a install with non gui tools like mc and such while in text boot is not in your repertoire like it is in mine. I use/find these tools handy to repair non gui boot-able installs.

    It is easy to take out things. Problem is. Finding that you need them later for some unseen future situation and not having them handy then.

    AntiX base still fits on a cd.

    Sometimes I drive a crooked road to get my mind straight.
    Not all who Wander are Lost.
    Linux Registered User # 475019
    How to Search for AntiX solutions to your problems


    All distros are based on unix principles, only the bare essentials were originally in a distro, & certainly no GUI. 😉

    Lots of folk started out before GUIs became the norm, & have developed use practices which are familiar, so we keep to using small fast utilities such as text editors, bc, mc, & the like, because they work. 🙂

    I always have mc on my installs, & regularly use vi for odd jobs, even though I’m not a programmer. I used to use screen too. All these old utilities can be used over ssh, which is another reason for keeping them around.

    Linux (& BSD) since 1999


    Additional use-case, that ties into what evryone else has said.

    Collect your text (novel, story, poetry, tutorial, etc) in plain text files using a text-editor (VIM, emacs, mcedit, nano, etc.), saving disk space (possibly negligible) and requiring little to no learning curve (mcedit, nano, etc.). Load up Sribus (InDesign, etc.) and import your unformatted text. Process them words. Far more options than with a standard word processor. Format for print and/or web like a pro. Cuts out the middle-man (word-processor).

    rainydayshirts.bandcamp.com | Audio
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    All of these thoughts and explanations are both useful and true.

    AntiX did indeed start out very small and simple. If we even had a word processor 12 years ago, it wouldn’t have been anything in either Open Office, Libre Office, or Star Office, though advanced users have always been able to build and install whatever they need. That, in fact, is one of the great features of antiX. When we started out, the primary purpose was to provide reasonably easy and useful software that would run on old computers with limited memory, CPU, and disk space.

    In the last decade, even “older” systems have become more capable. Our main distributions, though still “light and nimble” for computers that are 3-5 years old, have grown bigger for the really old hardware, and we’ve therefore adjusted with multiple sizes and variations of our software, now offering Full, Base, and Core editions, plus a moderately sized desktop running MXLinux. It’s still possible to run minimal pretty light software, particularly if you are familiar with what’s available.

    With antiX Core, you can build a highly custom system; you may even build one SUPER small and light for a really old system and another one BIG, strong, and powerful with a full desktop and heavy, feature rich applications, if that’s what you need. I love antiX because I can – and I have – built environments at one time or another on different edges of the system software spectrum – very light and nimble on one end and full featured on the other end. Even at both extremes, with the antiX approach, I can put together vastly different systems that take anywhere from a few minutes to build for systems that use what we provide standard to systems that may take 30-75 minutes to build if I’m downloading and modifying practically everything. The more that has to be changed, the longer it takes and the more experience it requires, and yet the antiX tools greatly simplify such activities, even for veteran software administrators, one of the key reasons I’ve been supporting these systems with my words and actions.

    • This reply was modified 1 year, 4 months ago by masinick.

    Brian Masinick

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