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Running Linux, Fourth Edition by Lar Kaufman, Terry Dawson, Matthias Kalle Dalheimer, Matt Welsh

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The Emacs Editor

Text editors are among the most important applications in the Unix world. They are used so often that many people spend more time within an editor than anywhere else on their Unix system. The same holds true for Linux.

The choice of an editor can be a religious one. Many editors exist, but the Unix community has arranged itself into two major groups: the Emacs camp and the vi camp. Because of vi’s somewhat nonintuitive user interface, many people (newcomers and seasoned users alike) prefer Emacs over vi. However, long-time users of vi (and single-finger typists) use it more efficiently than a more complex editor such as Emacs.

If vi is one end of the text-editor spectrum, Emacs is the other; they are widely different in their design and philosophy. Emacs is partly the brainchild of Richard Stallman, founder of the Free Software Foundation and author of much of the GNU software.

Emacs is a very large system with more features than any single Unix application to date (some people would even go so far as not to call it an editor but an “integrated environment”). It contains its own LISP language engine that you can use to write extensions for the editor. (Many of the functions within Emacs are written in Emacs LISP.) Emacs includes extensions for everything from compiling and debugging programs to reading and sending electronic mail to X Window System support and more. Emacs also includes its own online tutorial and documentation. The book Learning GNU Emacs by Debra ...

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