hexe: In the flyweight competition

I’ve been holding off on the next hex editor because the last one, dhex, was so impressive that I knew whatever came next wouldn’t stand much of a chance.

Today I’m comfortable showing hexe though, because I think hexe’s claim to fame isn’t split-panel diff viewing with four-directional panning effects. I think it has other praises worth singing.


hexe by default will confine itself to a narrow vertical band that is obviously intended to fit comfortably in an 80×24 terminal space. It does, however, allow you to set the number of columns of hex code, so you can, with a little trial-and-error, stretch hexe to fit your terminal width.

hexe also adopts a very readable color scheme, wisely putting whites on blue and sometimes reversing text for selections. Perhaps that was intentional, or perhaps the author just likes white and blue. 😉

Size is where hexe tends to shine. As you can see on the home page, the code files that make up hexe are barely 4Kb in the Arch version I cobbled together, and the packaged tar.xz file costs me a mere 11Kb of disk space. Installed, yaourt -Qi says it’s 34Kb. I’m comfortable allowing hexe 34K of my hard-earned X-gigabytes, for some fundamental hex editing capabilities.

Memorywise, I notice that the amount reported by ps_mem.py tends to vary with the size of the file that’s loaded. I don’t expect that’s uncommon. Just to be fair, opening hexe with no file in an 80×24 terminal emulator shows up as 550Kb on a machine with a gigabyte available. The image you see above required 2.2Mb, and that was a thousand-line file of random words.

So if you are exceptionally tight on memory — exceptionally, like this tight — you might find it more comfortable to fall back on hexe, as opposed to the Cadillac hex editors we’ve seen in past weeks.

hexe keeps most of its key commands on screen. CTRL+T will switch between display modes, if you need another number system to get the job done. I should mention that insert mode occasionally gave me screen artifacts, where columns and data were smudged, even if the file output was clean.

hexe is in AUR, but the source files have been updated and the md5sums in the PKGBUILD are no longer correct. I don’t see hexe in Debian.

And if you think this is the last hex editor I have stashed away, you are sadly mistaken. … 😉