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

Robert G. Brown rgb at
Mon Jul 21 16:23:45 PDT 2008

On Mon, 21 Jul 2008, Geoff Jacobs wrote:

> There isn't anything wrong with a good xterm. By the way, you are

I agree, Geoff, but my younger computer geek friends ("younger" in their
mid to late 30's, god help me:-) tend to mock me gently for using
xterms/jove to code, to write books, to read my mail in xterm/pine/jove
(license of evil and all) instead of modern GUI tools.  And when I add
hosts, I edit /etc/hosts.  And when I add users I edit /etc/passwd,
shadow, group.  They've made printing too complex for humans to handle
any more or I'd still be editing /etc/printcap (and still have to
anyway, rarely, to fix things when the damn gui breaks).

But jove doesn't "like" all the other modern xterm-alikes.  It likes
xterm.  The real deal.  With the others you have to tell them to stop
trying to be so smart and let jove handle the interface, or they drop
random lines when they don't update correctly (from the display, not
from the actual memory image).  So it might be worthwhile to get xjove
to work just to stop the laughter ("Look, guys, I'm using a GUI editor

> forgetting the other noteworthy 'j' CLI editors: jed and joe. You can't
> do much better for less than a meg on either score.

Not exactly forgetting -- a good friend of mine swore by joe, which IIRC
is basically wordstar implemented as a text editor.  And since wordstar
was my very first "real word processor" on the IBM PC, I have a soft
spot for it although I've never really used it.  jed I've never used at
all, so someone else will have to sing its praises.  But as far as image
size goes:

rgb at lilith|B:1330>ll /usr/bin/jove
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 199312 2007-10-17 17:09 /usr/bin/jove

in x86_64 form.  Or even more impressive:

rgb 17457 0.0 0.0 82484 1184 pts/8 S+ 18:43 0:00 jove /tmp/pico.452401

VSZ of 82484 is nice and tight, and a whole K of RSS.

> I used and loved nedit for a long time, but eventually decided that we
> would have to part. Nedit (or possibly lesstif) was glitching far more
> than I considered proper. Right now I'm using Scite.

If jove's keystrokes weren't engraved in my nervous system by 20
consecutive years of using nothing else (how else could the rgbbot keep
up, if it weren't by having hardwired firmware interfacing with the text
output interface:-) I'd give all of these a try, but truthfully, jove
has everything I need, and it is absolutely bulletproof the way only 25
or 30 years of nearly frozen code can be bulletproof.  I had to patch it
a half dozen years ago to cope with a few posix issues as some of the
underlying libraries were brought up to date, but the moribund code base
is actually a blessing.  Even the kinda 1/3 finished xjove sources in
the tree are "cute" or "quaint" (I think they probably use athena
widgets) more than a hassle.

As I said, the one thing I could wish for is fixing it so it grokked
latex errors the way it groks C errors.  And one day, when it is time,
I'm sure that one of the six living humans who still use it will patch
it up so that it does.  No need to be hasty -- it is easy enough to
switch windows and read the errors from make (which are available, after
all) and switch back, and latex is notoriously lousy about locating the
probable line source of its errors anyway.

The bottom line is that I can open a file (<1 second), page down to a
particular string (Ctrl-\ string, Ctrl-\ Ctrl-\... interactive), change
it to something else (four seconds total), save and exit (another
second) in the time something like OpenOffice is still thinking about
coming up, without EVER stressing the memory or disk resources of a
modern system.  Fast, small, and oh so powerful, the way C-sourced
programs should be...;-)


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