I’ve been using Linux for more than 7 years now. The main thing I do on Linux is text editing. Editing configuration files, source files, html files and what not. Initially I used Midnight Commander’s built-in editor (as probably many of you coming from windowed systems). As I became more experienced and geeky I moved to one of the ‘holy editors’: Vim. Vim is an excellent editor with unlimited possibilities but unfortunately mastering it takes unlimited time as well. I used Vim for several years before realising that all this complexity and a user interface from the 70s were not for me anymore. I needed simplicity. I needed something with Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V for clipboard and Ctrl-F for find. I decided to look for another editor.
Here’s what I was looking for:
- as many windows-like (CUA) key bindings as possible. At least Ctrl-C, Ctrl-V.
- syntax coloring
- basic editing functions like search&replace
- needs to work on a VT as well as a console without rebinding keys
- minimum configuration
These features are not particularly demanding, are they? Well, I tried at least a dozen various editors and couldn’t find any that would meet these requirements. Not until I stumbled upon Diakonos.
Diakonos is a simple programmer’s editor for the Linux console that I find almost ideal. It’s open-source, it has all I need and it works out of the box. I’m not going into details (you can read about its features on the homepage), just a screenshot and a list of pros and cons.
- very windows-like key bindings (all that I use, I didn’t rebind a single key!)
- no configuration needed (although you can configure it pretty extensively if you want to)
- works on a VT as well as console without reconfiguring putty, .inputrc or anything
- has all the features you would expect in a basic programmers editor (regexps, etc)
- It’s slow. It is really slow when compared to any other editor (even Emacs). It’s written in Ruby, which is an interpreted language. I’m not sure if it is for Ruby or the author’s laziness but I don’t really care. It works sufficiently fast on my hardware. It saves a lot of my time which is more valuable to me than cpu cycles.
- Syntax coloring has some problems. I think it has something to do with switching contexts. When editing a PHP file with HTML in it, the coloring sometimes gets funny. Well that’s not a major drawback for me too.
To summarise. If you’re frustrated with complexity of Vim and Emacs, try Diakonos.