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    Using Text Editors (Emacs, Pico, Vi) Using Text Editors in Linux
    This list of text editors is provided to you courtesy of the ReallyLinux.com staff.  Note that in many cases your version comes with a graphical text editor such as Kate or Kwrite, etc. This section is for those who need to use command line editors. For some lighthearted but encouraging information about Kate (KDE graphical editor) you can read this article.

    Text editors are similar to word processors, providing various features for writing documents.  Several text editors are available on Linux, and this page explains how to use the three most popular.

    For information about the specific text editor click on the name below.

    Vi:
    Vi is often the default editor that pops up when you're ready to write an e-mail message or when you're posting a News message.  Vi is complicated and seems difficult to learn at first.  However, it is often the default for Unix and Linux systems.  This chapter explains the use of the Vi editor.
     

    Pico:
    Pico is a fairly simple text editor that provides straight-forward options and easy-to-use commands.  Although some programmers have frowned at Pico's simplicity and limited options, most folks find that it provides everything necessary to write long documents with minimal hassles.  However, Pico is not very good when manipulating certain types of files such as making changes to .cgi files etc.
     

    Emacs:
    Emacs falls somewhere between the straightforward Pico and the complicated Vi.  Unlike Vi, you don't need to switch between modes to perform basic text editing functions.  Sadly, the vast set of powerful commands themselves are difficult to remember.  The Emacs link includes basic information on Emacs for situations where you may encounter it or for those who use it on an occasional basis.
     
     
     



     

    Vi Editor
    Click on this link to go to the command summary.

    Start the Vi editor by typing vi at the prompt.  Typing vi followed by a file name will automatically name the file so you don't have to worry about it later.

    On a number of other occasions programs use Vi for text editing.  When you post to a News group or send e-mail, the system may default to Vi.  How do you know when you're in Vi and when you can use Vi commands?

    Vi has two modes:  Command mode that lets you use commands to edit, save, or quit; and Text mode that lets you type.   If you attempt to do something in the wrong mode, the system beeps furiously at you until you either stop pressing keys or scream (the louder the scream the more beeps you muffle).

    Use the Esc key to change from one mode to the other.
     

    Simple Example of Using Vi:

    Vi starts in the Command mode.  To switch to text mode press i.
    Type out your text.  To make corrections, move to a location in your text, or
              save your file, switch to the Command mode by pressing Esc.
    In command mode you may edit, save, or exit (see Command Mode below
              for details).
    To switch back to Text mode, type i again.  Getting the hang of switching
              between modes may take a while, so be patient with yourself.


    Occasionally, when you're typing quickly, some of your text may seem to disappear.  Actually your text is still there, but has become blacked out.  This black-out is usually caused by a slow screen update, and Vi is notorious for this.  Because the information on your screen is coming through your modem, it needs to be updated (refreshed) occasionally, or parts of the information disappear from your screen.  To update your screen's information, hold down the Ctrl key and press l (thats an L not a 1) while in the Command mode.  Do this whenever chunks of your text black-out.
     

    Text Writing Mode
    The Vi editor starts in the Command mode.  To switch to the Text mode and begin typing, press i.  If you hear several beeps and you're unable to type, then press i twice to switch to the text mode.
     
     

    Command Mode
    Press the Esc key to switch from Text mode to Command mode.
     

    Moving Around


     

    Saving and Exiting

    • quit Vi without saving anything  (you'll lose any changes you made when using this command) type:   :q!
    • save/write the file you're working on without exiting type:  :w   followed by a filename
    • save/write your file and quit the vi editor in one step by typing:  :wq


    Editing

     
     
     

    Vi Troubleshooting

    Trying to use a command
     If youre trying to use a Move, Save, or Edit command but the command isnt working, switch from Text mode to Command mode by pressing the Esc key.

     If the backspace key doesnt work, then hold down the Ctrl key and press backspace.

    Trying to save
     If you get the message No current filename, type :w followed by a filename.  The message appears only if a filename has not been specified.
     If you get the message Is a directory, youre trying to write to a directory not a file.  Use a different name for your file to save it properly.
     
     
     
     



     

    Pico Editor
    Click on this link to go straight to command summary.

    If you have trouble getting access to Pico, briefly review the next chapter, Customizing Your Account.  If Pico isnt loading and you want to try it out right away, follow these steps:

    At the prompt type:  set path=($HOME/bin /usr/local/bin)
    Next, press the key.
    This is only a temporary setting.  To make Pico permanently available, you need to refer to Chapter 8, Customizing Your Account.


    Start the Pico editor by typing pico at the prompt.  Typing pico followed by a file name automatically names the file so you don't have to worry about it later.  Ex:    pico newfile.txt

    Using Pico is fairly straight-forward.  The blinking cursor indicates where you may begin typing.  Type out your message without worrying about line breaks or page breaks.  Pico takes care of these for you.  When you're finished typing, or anytime you're ready to use a Pico command, refer to the Pico menu options, listed at the bottom of the screen.

    To use an option, hold down the Ctrl key and press the letter indicated.  The ^ symbol represents the Ctrl key.
    Ex:  To use the option ^G Get Help, hold down the Ctrl key (designated by the ^ character) and press g.  Always refer to the bottom two lines of Pico to see what options are available to you.  Depending on what you're doing in Pico, your options change.
     

    Editing text
    You can edit your document by using the arrow keys and the backspace key on your keyboard.

    Sometimes, when you're typing quickly, your text may seem to disappear.  Your text is still there, but has become blacked out.  This black-out is usually caused by a slow screen update.  Because the information on your screen is coming through your modem, it needs to be updated (refreshed) occasionally, or parts of the information disappear from your screen.  To update your screen's information, hold down the Ctrl key and press l (thats L, not the number 1).  Do this whenever chunks of  text you're working on become blacked out.
     

    Commands
    Movement Commands:
    Depending on your system, the arrow keys or the backspace key may not work.  Instead, you can use these commands to perform the same tasks.

    Smorgasbord of Pico Options

    ^C Cancel allows you to stop a process at any time.  If you make a mistake, just hold down the Ctrl key and press c.

    ^G Get Help
    Get clear and concise assistance from the Pico help, in case something unexpected happens or you need additional information about a command.

    ^X Exit
    Exit Pico at anytime.  If you've made changes to a file or you've worked on a new file, but you havent saved the changes, you see this message:
    Save modified buffer (ANSWERING "No" WILL DESTROY CHANGES) (y/n)?
    Answering no (press n) will close Pico and bring you back to the prompt without saving your file.
    Answering yes (press y) will allow you to save the file you've been working on (see WriteOut section below for details).
     

    ^O WriteOut
    Save your file without hassles or worries.  Fill in the name of your file beside the File Name to write: prompt.  If your file already has a name, then press enter.

    ^T To Files option lets you save your text over a file that exists in your directory.  By choosing the To Files option, Pico takes you to a directory Browser.

    Browser Options
     To alter a file or directory, first use the arrow keys or the optional movement keys (described on page 32) to highlight a particular name.  You can also press w to find and highlight a file or directory quickly.  Once you've highlighted a particular file or directory, you can use any one of these options.
     Type e to Exit the Browser
     Type r to rename a directory or file
     Type d to delete a file
     Type m to create an additional copy of a file
      Type g to move to another directory where the file is located Type s or press to write over the file with text you just    wrote in Pico
     
     

    ^R Read File
    Insert text from another file into your current text file.  This option allows you to search through your directories for a file that you would like to add to your text.  This option is especially handy if you've saved a document and would like to add its content to the new file you're working on.  Text from the file you select is placed on the line directly above your cursor.
    At the Insert file: prompt you may either type a file name or use the Browser options.

    ^T To Files option lets you import a text file directly into the file you're currently typing.  By choosing the To Files option, Pico takes you to a directory Browser.

    Browser Options
     To alter a file or directory, first use the arrow keys or the optional movement keys (described on page xx) to highlight a particular name.  You can also type W to find and highlight a file or directory quickly.  Once you've highlighted a particular file or directory you can use any one of these options.
     Type e to Exit the Browser
     Type r to rename a directory or file
     Type d to delete a file
     Type m to create an additional copy of a file
      Type g to move to another directory where a file for    importing may be located
     Type s or press to import a text file directly into your    current file
     

    ^Y Prev Pg
    Move quickly to the previous page.  Although you could just as easily press the up arrow key several times, this command quickly jumps your cursor up one page.
     

    ^V Next Pg
    Move quickly to the next page.  Although you could just as easily press the down arrow key several times, this command quickly jumps your cursor down one page.
     

    ^K Cut Text
    Cut a line of text.  This option allows you to cut a full line of text.  By using the uncut command and your arrow keys, you can then paste the cut text at another location in your document.  To cut specific text in a line or to cut several lines of text, first select the text (see Selecting Text on the next page).
     

    Selecting Text
    To select text for cutting and pasting use the following steps:

    Move the cursor to the beginning of the text you want to select
    Hold down the Ctrl key and press ^
    Use the right arrow key or hold down Ctrl and press f to highlight text
    When you have highlighted the appropriate text, hold down the Ctrl key  and press k to cut it.
    Paste the text you cut, anywhere in your document, using UnCut Text
    ^U UnCut Text
    Paste text that you previously cut.  You can use this option to undo an accidental cut of text or place cut text at another location in your document.  The text you cut is pasted on the line directly above your cursor.
     

    ^C Cur Pos
    Indicate the current position of your cursor, relative to the entire document.  This is a helpful option if you'd like to check exactly where in your document you are.  The status line indicates the following items:
     [ line 8 of 18 (44%), character 109 of 254 (42%) ]
     

     ^J Justify
    Even out lines of text.  This command is handy when you acciden-tally type extra spaces between words or press the key before reaching the end of a line.  The option evens the length of your text lines automatically.
     

    ^U UnJustify
    UnJustify lines of text.  For the messy line look you can always select the UnJustify option.
     

    ^W Where is
    Find a particular string of text quickly.  This option allows you to do a word search in your text.  This option is especially handy for longer documents.  If the word you designated at the Search: prompt is found, it places the cursor beside it.
     

    ^T To Spell
    Check for spelling errors.  The spell check option allows you to correct spelling errors throughout your document.  If spell checker finds a misspelled word or a word it doesn't recognize (don't worry,  this rarely happens), it will let you correct the word.  At the Edit a replacement: prompt, type in the correct spelling of a word.  However, if you don't want to make any changes, simply press the enter key.

    Any words that you've corrected but re-occur in the document can be automatically replaced.  At the Replace a with b? [y]: prompt press y to replace all occurrences of the misspelled word or n to ignore.
     
     
     
     



     

    Emacs Editor

    Start Emacs text editor by typing emacs at the prompt.  Typing emacs followed by a file name automatically names the file, so you don't have to worry about it later.
     

    If youre in a hurry, turn the page for Emacs commands.
     

    Emacs doesn't require you to switch between modes.  However, when using Emacs, keep in mind these things: it's often necessary to press enter before reaching the end of a line; all of the commands require you to hold down the Ctrl key and press a letter; and messages that appear are usually loaded with jargon, so if you don't understand them, ignore them.
     

    Simple Example of Using Emacs:

     At the prompt type:  emacs
     You see a long and dull message appear on your screen.  Start
              typing your document.
     To save your file, hold down the Ctrl key and press x; then hold down the
              Ctrl key and press w.
     Beside the Write file: ~/ prompt, type the name of your file and press enter.
              Ex:  Write file: ~/testfile.txt
     To quit Emacs, hold down the Ctrl key and press x; then hold down the
              Ctrl key and press c.

    Emacs Commands

    Moving

     

    Saving and Editing

    Saving

     

    Editing
    Using the movement keys, locate your cursor in the appropriate spot for editing. Besides using the Delete key to delete individual characters, you can use the following editing commands:


     

    Emacs Troubleshooting

    Trying to Search
     If there are no other text strings that match the one youve searched for, you see the message: Failing I-search backward: flesch.  Re-start your search or stop searching.

    Trying to Save
     If you try to save a file that has the same name as a directory, you see the message: File /usr/u4/mraiszad/test is a directory.
    You have to name your file something else.

    Emacs Tutorial?
    An Emacs tutorial is available on the system.  To review the Emacs Tutorial, hold down the Ctrl key and press h; then press t.  To quit the tutorial, hold the Ctrl key and press x; then hold the Ctrl; and press c.

    Refreshing Missing Characters?
    Occasionally, when you're typing quickly, some of your text may seem to disappear.  Actually your text is still there, but has become blacked out.  This black out is usually caused by a slow screen update.  Because the information on your screen is coming through your modem, it needs to be updated (refreshed) occasionally, or parts of the information disappear from your screen.  To update your screen's information, hold down the Ctrl key and press l.  Do this whenever chunks of your text black out.
     

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