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2.3.2 Simple Graphical Editors

Linux comes with a wide range of open source software, not all of which is in- stalled on every installation. You may need to use your Linux installation disks to add these programs to your system. Whether it’s RedHat’s package manager or SuSE’s YaST2 or Debian’s apt-get, most Linux admin interfaces make it easy to add these extra packages. Of course you can also resort to the Web for finding and downloading additional open source software.

Here’s a quick listing of some of the many editors that you might find to your liking. The description of each is largely “in its own words,” based on the text that the authors supply with their software.

jedit is a cross-platform programmer’s text editor written in Java. The Java-based portability seems appealing. This is a very powerful editor and a popular choice.

pico is a small easy to use editor.

mbedit is a multiplatform editor.

• NEdit is a GUI style text editor for workstations with X Window and Motif. NEdit provides all of the standard menu, dialog, editing, mouse support, as well as macro extension language, syntax highlighting, and a lot of other nice features (and extensions for programmers).

xcoral comes up fast; seems well done. Half of the YaST developers swear by it, not only because of the built-in C/C++/Java browser. This editor provides support for C, C++, Java, Perl, Ada, and Fortran programs, as well as LATEX and HTML documents. With the help of the built-in SMall ANSI C Interpreter (SMAC), xcoral can be configured and extended in almost arbitrary ways. Examples can be found in the directory

/usr/lib/xcoral (or wherever xcoral is installed on your system). Further information about xcoral and SMAC is available in the detailed online help system (also available in HTML and PostScript format).

axe features multiple windows, multiple buffers, configurable menus and buttons, access to external filters, keyboard macros, comprehensive online help, and more.

eddi is an X editor based on the TiX shell, with syntax highlighting and several other useful features.

the: If you’re an IBMer from the heyday of mainframes, perhaps you’ve used xedit from VM/CMS. If so, you might want to check out the, whose name is the acronym of “The Hessling Editor.”

• JED is an extremely powerful but small Emacs-like editor for programmers that is extensible in a C-like macro language and is able to perform color syntax highlighting. Among the many features: Emacs, WordStar, EDT emulation; C, Fortran, TEX, text editing modes; full undo; Emacs- compatible info reader, and lots more. It claims to be 8-bit clean, so you can even edit binary files.

• Glimmer is the editor formerly known as CodeCommander. It is a full featured code editor with many advanced features, including full scripting integration with either Python or Guile.

joe (Joe’s own editor) is a freeware ASCII editor for UNIX. joe is similar to most IBM PC text editors. The keyboard shortcuts are similar to WordStar and Turbo C. When joe has several files opened at the same time, each file is displayed in its own window. Additionally, joe supports shell windows whereby the output of the executed commands is saved in a buffer, automatic filename completion (via Tab), help windows, undo/ redo, search and replace using regular expressions.

• gEdit is a small but powerful text editor designed expressly for GNOME. It supports a split-screen mode and plug-ins that make it even more pow- erful. Developers can develop their own plug-ins if they desire.

2.6 Resources 49


fte is an editor “with many features and simple usage for X11 and console.”

e3 is a very tiny editor (only .07MB) that offers many different modes such as vi, Emacs, and WordStar. The default mode is WordStar.

asedit is a simple ASCII text editor for X11/Motif. Mouse support, dialog boxes, hypertext online help, undo/redo. Named for its author, Andrzej Stochniol.


We’ve given a good foundation for using vi—a set of commands that will help you with much of your daily editing. While not as pretty as a GUI tool, vi can be much more productive once you get familiar with the commands. Start with some basic commands, then refer to this chapter or another vi resource and learn a new keystroke each week. By next year, you’ll be a master at vi—and incredibly productive at producing code.

We also described several other editors available under Linux. If you know them already, or are wed to your mouse, then try one on for size. The choice of an editor can be as much about personality and “fit” as it is a technical choice.


There is still a lot more to learn about regular expressions. They may take a bit of practice, but it is a skill that can be used in a variety of contexts, in a variety of languages.


• Rafeeq Rehman and Christopher Paul, The Linux Development Platform, Prentice Hall PTR, especially Chapter 2 on editors vim, Emacs, and jed.

• Peter Patsis, UNIX AWK and SED Programmer’s Interactive Workbook, Prentice Hall PTR, ISBN 0130826758.