Religious wars (was Re: [Beowulf] A press release)

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Mon Jul 21 06:18:59 PDT 2008

On Mon, 21 Jul 2008, Joe Landman wrote:

> Rumor has it that C-c C-o C-f C-f C-e C-e instructs emacs to make you a cup 
> of coffee. :^
> I personally want an editor without all these fancy things:  just syntax 
> highlighting for C/C++/Perl/Bash/Tcsh/Fortran/config files, that has line 
> numbers, and intelligent wrapping/splitting.  Can run from a GUI. Does split 
> windows.
> gvim does all these things.  But you have to be very careful typing. Because 
> it it vi.
> If Komodo had window splitting and intelligent wrapping, it would be good.
> I looked at kate, but it requires kde.
> pico/nano are ok, but they don't do line numbers, or split windows, or 
> intelligent wrapping.

I don't know if it has all the features you want -- line numbers?  Ugh.
You must be coding in runes -- oh, wait, I mean Fortran;-) -- but you
might look at another ancient editor from the elder age of elves and men
-- jove (Jonathan's Own Version of Emacs).  Call it "emacs lite".  Call
it "emacs written in C instead of lisp so it isn't infinitely and
pointlessly extendable".  Call it "I'll have an order of emacs, please,
but hold the kitchen sink".

It don't be doin' colors.  It is intelligent enough to do errors in only
a handful of programming languages.  It can be gussied up a bit with
macros and keymaps, but we're talking hanging your own pictures on the
wall, not rebuilding the house so it supports martian lifeforms using
nothing but lisp.  On a good day it can be enticed into managing
indentation for you in code

Now mind you, jove doesn't do GUI's.  xterm, please, and none of these
fancy "smart" xterms, neither, just the plain old vanilla xterm.  You
can split screens, edit 3 or four files at once, invoke make from inside
and keystroke through errors.  Once upon a time I did use it to run an
editable shell in a subwindow (this was before e.g. bash or tcsh, when
if you wanted editing in /bin/sh or /bin/csh you had to do it this way)
but tcsh or bash are both much better native and I haven't done it for

The bad thing about jove is that so few people still use it that it
doesn't ever make it into e.g. fedora.  I'm sure it is in Debian (what
isn't?).  I have a perfectly functional personal rpm build, though (and
would be happy to donate it to your cause), and the FIRST thing I do
when moving into a new system is import jove's rpm and do a rebuild and
install.  Otherwise I can't function.

I just use one editor, you see.  I'm typing this reply in jove.  I use
jove to write poetry and prose (latex makefiles and templates).  I use
jove to write C.  perl.  php.  text.  I resort to ooffice only in
desperation, and then get pissed when Ctrl-A or Ctrl-Shift-< don't do
what they are "supposed" to do (move me to head of line or head of
document) and instead pop up some inane window offering to polish my

Alas, we live in a dark age, and one day jove may pass beyond human ken
when men and elves forget it.  But it is not THIS day, and we are not
THOSE men.  Or elves, for that matter.

Special project number 113 in my list of special projects I'll never get
to is to actually make xjove work, using gtk widgets, so that it no
longer needs an xterm to function correctly.  And I'd really like to
tweak its reformatting routines -- it sometimes gets overzealous,
especially with email.  And its file recovery facility is terse to the
point of being cryptic and could be a tiny bit warmer and fuzzier and

Still, it stands as an example of enduring greatness.  I've tried --
hard -- to wean myself from jove and move on to emacs, since emacs is
"supported".  My record is a whole week on emacs, at the end of which
time my facial tic began to worry my wife and the boys began to wonder
why I was wandering the house shaking my head and uttering obscenities.
At the end of it I woke up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat,
having had a horrible dream in which every other word of a document was
presented to me in chartreuse, and chartreuse had some sort of
>>meaning<<, a color out of space as it were, and I could hear the
hounds scratching at the corners of the document trying to get in and
wreak their will on all the hapless words within.

I immediately sacrificed a chicken onto the keyboard to purge the
hounds, cranked up jove in its comforting smooth black on white text,
and spent an hour just moving up and down in the document and felt much


> Ugh.
>> /me ducks
>> -stephen

Robert G. Brown                            Phone(cell): 1-919-280-8443
Duke University Physics Dept, Box 90305
Durham, N.C. 27708-0305
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