nano: We’re number three, we try harder

I’m not exactly the DistroWatch of console text editors, but even a few months in Linux circles make it clear that there’s a vim contingent, an emacs brigade, and … well, and the outsiders.


nano is probably the leading contender beyond vim or emacs, and for some distros it’s a default text editor (Edit: I guess I’m thinking of the Arch live boot ISO, which has nano and vi on board).

I don’t dislike nano, and somewhere down the line you’ll understand my halfhearted allegiance to vim. Probably when we hit the V section. 😉

nano’s best feature, and what should dethrone either of the vim or emacs usurpers, is the fact that it is very friendly to newcomers.

Most of the fundamentals are on the screen, from startup. Getting in and out of the program is clear and easy. Saving, deleting, and access to help are immediately visible.

Some things are still a bit eccentric — “WriteOut” as a euphemism for “save” always irked me — but for the most part it’s approachable and sane.

Does it stand up to jed, K.Mandla’s favorite unused editor so far? Yes and no. For my money jed still sits with me as a near clone to the landmark word processors of the DOS days.

nano is good and nano makes life easy for newcomers, but it’s no jed. But it’s a long, uphill battle to put jed in the throne. 😐