What is the best C IDE on Linux?

Bob Drzyzgula bob at drzyzgula.org
Wed Apr 4 22:08:52 EDT 2001

An editor war, How very cool.

Being as I am one of those "die-hard old unix weenies who enjoy using an
editor designed when men were Men and Unix was small enough to run on a
PDP-11 with a real VT100 console" (well, almost; I missed the heyday of BSD
2.x on the PDP-11 by about four or five years; my first Unix machine, and
thus my first exposure to vi, was a Sun 2/120 in 1984. This machine ran
SunOS 1.1 -- I still have some of the SunOS 1.1 manuals -- was based on a
Multibus card cage, a 10MHz MC68010 processor board, and 2MB of
excrutiatingly slow memory. Thus, it was about as fast as a high-end PDP-11.
OTOH, this is probably moderated by at least once in my life having been
pretty good at making 029 drum cards, and having to work with a PDP-8 in my
first job out of graduate school, toggling in the octal for the bootstrap
loader that would in turn read the program -- a DAQ job that controlled a
microdensitometer -- off the paper tape reader that was grafted onto the
side of the teletype console terminal), I feel as if perhaps I have to
defend vi just a bit.

In my personal experience, the whole vi-vs-emacs thing really comes down to
what people do with computers. In particular, almost all emacs fans that I
know log into a single computer, start up emacs, and just sit there and work
on that same computer for weeks on end until there's a power hit or for some
other reason the computer has to be rebooted. If they use emacs to edit
their email, then they pretty much have to handle the email *within* emacs,
because even the idea of starting up another copy of emacs just to edit a
single file is far too painful to contemplate. OTOH, I'm not sure that I've
ever known a Unix systems programmer who was much of an emacs fan. Systems
programmers generally use vi for a number of reasons, the biggest being that
even on the most broken of machines you can often at least get vi to
function in ex mode. In fact, it is virtually impossible to be a Solaris
systems programmer or administrator without at least coming to terms with
vi; Sun still doesn't ship emacs as part of the base OS distribution, and
didn't even start distributing it "copackaged" with the OS until Solaris 8.
Even when dealing with machines that are largely functional, when your job
involves logging into two dozen machines in a single day to perform various
administrative duties the overhead of starting up emacs at each login is
just not worth it.

IMHO, vi is a tremendously powerful text editor, while emacs is an
overwhelmingly powerful applications platform. Comparing vi to emacs is like
comparing thttpd (http://www.acme.com/software/thttpd/) to zope

That being said...

>From the "Cult of vi" page at

> "Emacs is a hideous monstrosity, but a functional one.
> On the other hand, vi is a masterpiece of elegance. Sort
> of like a Swiss Army knife versus a rapier."

Also note: http://www.splange.freeserve.co.uk/img/viman.gif

>From the 1998 Linux Expo:

> Felix S. Gallo <fsg at ultranet dot com> wrote this account
> of a paintball match at which was decided the eternal
> question of which Unix text editor is objectively superior.
> > vi trounced emacs, 3-1, in a four-game paintball match.
> > Apparently the emacs users were confused by the simple
> > nature of their paintball equipment, or were stricken by
> > carpal tunnel syndrome... Rumors that emacs really lost
> > because their guns took 5 minutes to load, weighed 500 lbs,
> > included an undecipherable and outmoded built-in scripting
> > language, and had 19 different modifier keys next to the
> > trigger, were deemed baseless. Commented one grinning vi
> > user, ":1,$s/emacs/lunchmeat/g, baby!"

>From http://www.oreilly.com/ask_tim/unix_editor.html

> I have to confess that I'm a "vi guy." When I was new to
> UNIX, I actually started out using emacs (not GNU emacs, but
> Gosling's Emacs, in the early days of the emacs wars) and
> loved it. But then one day, I discovered that someone had
> blown away the custom emacs profile that I had gotten
> comfortable with. It took about a week for me to get it
> restored, and in the meantime, I switched to vi, and got
> hooked.
> What I especially liked about vi was precisely that I didn't
> have to have all these nifty customizations to make it
> really usable. What really distinguished vi from emacs in my
> mind was that it was just there on any system I sat down at-
> -tremendously portable. I didn't have to copy my emacs
> profile around to sit down and do useful work on someone
> else's machine.

>From Glenn Vanderburg's page of "Quotations on Simplicity in
Software Design" at http://www.vanderburg.org/soft-quotes.html

> I think psychoanalyze-pinhead is the important lesson
> of GNU Emacs.
> ---Bennett Todd <bet at ___.com>

In case you don't know what he's talking about here,
see this post to the Humanist Discussion Group, from the
archive page at:

> Date: Thu, 18 Mar 1999 07:27:50 +0000
> From: C M Sperberg-McQueen <cmsmcq at ___.org>
> Subject: Re: 12.0499 ... Eliza?
> On Tue, 16 Mar 1999 22:13:34 +0000 (BST), in Humanist 12.0499,
> Jim Marchand asked:
> > What has happened to Eliza? If you remember, it was a
> > great program written by Josef Weizenbaum way back when
> > we had no memory. As a kind of Rogerian psychologist,
> > it used your questions to reflect answers back to you.
> Strictly speaking, Eliza was a general script-driven
> pattern-matching and reply-generating program; the Rogerian
> analyst was provided by the Doctor script. Since it was the
> funniest and made the most plausible use of Eliza's radical
> lack of real-world knowledge -- and also because it was the
> only script included in the original publication, perhaps --
> the Doctor script is the only thing Eliza was ever known
> for.
> > I used it for a number of purposes back when I was
> > teaching and wrote programs such as Freud, The Bavarian
> > Inkeeper, The Wimpy Psychologist, which were fun, if
> > not always good. ...
> > Anyway, one hears that a psychologist out in California
> > is still using the program, but I haven't seen it
> > mentioned in years. Maybe I'm just reading the wrong
> > things. Does anybody know anything about the present
> > state of Eliza?
> Weizenbaum's Eliza was never, as far as I know, a supported
> product, so it's present state is presumably the same as
> ever: a clever program described in a journal article (the
> article I know was in Communications of the ACM, but there
> may have been others).
> Undergraduates are sometimes given the task of
> reimplementing Eliza (in general, or with a hard-coded
> script), and there are lots of versions around. In that
> sense, Eliza will surely never die while computers are used
> with text interfaces.
> Perhaps the most ubiquitous version of Eliza now available
> is the 'doctor' program shipped as part of GNU emacs (M-x-
> doctor, for those of you who have not tried it). This may be
> used alone, but (emacs being what it is) can also be hooked
> up to take its input not from the user, but from a database
> of quotations from Zippy the Pinhead (M-x-psychoanalyze-
> pinhead, a short sample of which is appended). If anyone has
> been wondering whether to learn vi or emacs, the existence
> of psychoanalyze-pinhead in the emacs distribution should
> definitely tip the balance. One way or the other.
> -C. M. Sperberg-McQueen Senior Research Programmer,
> University of Illinois at Chicago
> ----- A few lines of output from psychoanalyze-pinhead -----
> I am the psychotherapist. For your protection, I have been
> censored according to the Communications Decency Act.
> Please, describe your problems. Each time you are finished
> talking, type RET twice.
> I'm into SOFTWARE!
> Why do you say you are into software?
> I'm GLAD I remembered to XEROX all my UNDERSHIRTS!!
> What makes you believe that?
> Everybody is going somewhere!! It's probably a garage sale
> or a disaster Movie!!
> Maybe your plans have something to do with this.
> Now I'm having INSIPID THOUGHTS about the beautiful, round
> and being approached by SMALL BOYS selling FRUIT..
> Is it because of your life that you say and being approached
> by small boys selling fruit?
> My EARS are GONE!!
> Are you sure that your ears are gone?
> While my BRAINPAN is being refused service in BURGER KING,
> Jesuit priests are DATING CAREER DIPLOMATS!!
> Is it because of the people you hang around with that you
> are going through all this?
> .... etc., etc., etc.

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