Thoughts on Text Editors and OSes

Posted on Fri 23 April 2021 in Opinions

It’s roughly 00:43 UTC as I start writing this post, both for my blog, and my gopher phlog. I’ve read through my new-old copy of Learning the vi Editor, and I’ll be honest, I’ve been giving VIM a decent shot as of late. With the vimwiki plugin (among others), it’s really been a more pleasant experience than my previous attempts, and finding out about zz and ZZ to save and quit instead of :wq was even nicer.

And yet, I find myself yearning to write in Emacs. The modal design of VIM still irks me to no end, and I find it far slower to use right now than just opening Emacs and typing without having to worry about that feature. That’s mostly from how practiced I am with Emacs, and it might change as I work with VIM, but for this moment, I just can’t do that.

And it’s not really VIM’s fault. Don’t get me wrong, VIM has faults, just like all software. But in this case, it’s mostly my preferences.

But thinking about that brought up another set of thoughts. Namely, that I kinda miss Windows and MacOS. I mean, I can just boot into Win7 by connecting the drive in my laptop, or pull out my 2009 MacBook and run Mac OS 10.6.8 all I want. But using Linux has reminded me that each of the big OSes have their pros and cons, just like with VIM and Emacs.

Windows 7 and Vista have always been absolutely perfect OSes for me, and Mac OS 10.6.8 is literally my dream OS for how stable and amazing it’s always been for me. The web is a problem for those OSes (and in general), but I don’t rely on the web as much as many people do. Even then, other software tends to have amazing UX for me, especially from the likes of Apple and Adobe. iWork, iLife, MS Expressions Web, MS Office, Sublime Text, BBEdit, Safari… So much of it is just better in some ways than what I use on Linux.

And yet, I can’t bring myself to break away from Linux either. So much of what I enjoy about the pro-level hobbyist tools of Unix, and the “a tool that does one job well” mentality of the ecosystem, have shaped what I enjoy doing today. It’s why I enjoy using the terminal over most GUI apps, and why I’m trying to learn the likes of Perl and C and shell scripting. It’s why I’m so in love with the history of Linux and Unix, and why I want to learn about it as much as I have been, both through books and videos.

It’s also why I’ve been so willing to learn VIM. vi was the original visual text editor, and while ed is nice, line editors are a bit too obsolete for me to use seriously. But VIM is a bit of history that I can get behind and use, and reading through its past in various ways is just beyond interesting for me.

With that said, I think this thoughtstream has gone on long enough.