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

Peter St. John at
Mon Jul 21 19:28:35 PDT 2008

My feeling is that some of us like to construct long sentences from a small
vocabulary, while others like short sentences from a huge vocabulary. Or
substitute expressions and alphabets. Long proofs of symbolic logic or short
proofs citing lemmas. Emacs is for one, vi the other. I prefer long chains
built with few commands. Like planning many moves ahead with a few

On 7/21/08, Bob Drzyzgula <bob at> wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 21, 2008 at 01:47:02PM -0400, Robert G. Brown wrote:
> >
> > On Mon, 21 Jul 2008, Joe Landman wrote:
> >
> >
> > This is the sad truth.  I can survive without using emacs, and besides,
> > I can use it in an emergency.  But nobody can manage systems without
> > knowing vi.  You may use it only long enough to edit /etc/hosts and your
> > firewall and your yum repo data so you can install and rebuild jove, but
> > that much cannot be avoided...
> This, I find, is a strong dividing line. By and large
> (not with exclusivity, but IME there is certainly a trend)
> systems programmers use vi and applications programmers
> use emacs. Systems programmers spend far to much time just
> getting in and out to make quick fixes to things -- and
> for that matter spend far too much time working with broken
> machines -- to ever allow themselves to become dependant
> on anything with as much overhead as Emacs. Some of them
> will master both, and use Emacs for scripting and such.
> But most that I've known just never bother with it.
> > Speaking personally, I'd rather burn off my pre-cancerous old-age spots
> > with a wood-burning kit than use vi for more than two minutes at a time
> > ("... only long enough..." see above) but to each their own, I suppose.
> See, I cut my teeth [1] on a Sun 2/120 with a multibus SCSI
> adapter, with a 71MB hard drive and a QIC tape drive. This
> was running SunOS 1.1 (cf. BSD 4.1), and I can assure you
> that it didn't have no stinkin' Emacs;  Bill Joy ran the
> OS development for Sun and anyway, James Gosling's Unix/C
> port of Emacs was just starting to make the rounds [2].
> The only real choices were ed, ex and vi -- vi of course
> being a mode you entered from ex, which still was important
> and a vast improvement over ed. By the time there were any
> other reasonable editors available to me, the vi command
> set had moved down into my brain stem. The only command
> I ever mastered in Emacs was <Ctrl-x><Ctrl-c>.
> FWIW, with vi being so cryptic and Emacs being even worse,
> for a while we supported the Rand Editor -- in particular
> e19 [3]. Now there was an editor for the masses -- virtually
> the whole thing was driven by function keys.
> --Bob
> [1] Unix teeth, that is. The first machine I programmed --
> with punchcards -- was an IBM 1130...
> [2] We did at one point buy some licenses for Unipress
> Emacs (the commercialized version of Gosling Emacs), but
> only a few hardy souls ever forced themselves to make use
> of it.
> [3]
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