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Canada Computes: Emacs - The Granddaddy of Open Source

Oct 24, 2000, 13:05 (7 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Steve Coe)

"I have reviewed a great number of open source programs. Some good, some not so good. I had a slight revelation yesterday: Emacs is perhaps the ultimate open source project, yet nobody ever reviews it. It's just sort of there. Sure, Linux is open source, but it's pretty hard to sit down and review Linux itself, other than to say "Great kernel!"

"...Unless you create your own distribution, you probably already have Emacs installed on your system. You may want to think of upgrading it if your distribution is over one year old, like Redhat 6.0, so you have the newest version. My personal opinion is that to start you should run the X-based version of Emacs since it gives handy menus. It also allows for the keyboard commands, so if you're trying to do one thing and just can't quite remember how to do it, you can fall back on the menu."

"Often, when people start out in Linux, they find Emacs intimidating -- with good reason. It's pretty esoteric, but with a little practice, the common keystrokes for opening and saving files, as well as cutting and pasting become second nature. Of course, Emacs has a list of key commands which is incredibly long. Emacs seems to have been very much designed with all users in mind, not just some. By that I mean rather than having a philosophy of "let's just stick with these features that the average user will want" GNU have gone with "Well someone may need this feature one day, so let's put it in." In my opinion, that is a great idea for development."

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