Set 'nano' as the default editor instead of JOE


It’s not normal practice to tell people what editor to use, crontab -e should suffice.

And yes while there is a link to the DH Wiki about crontab for people who want to learn more about the crontab, it follows a sentence about using crontab -e to edit the crontab.

If you think the link to a wiki page confuses them, then well a whole side trip to setting up their bash environment will confuse them even more.

But this discussion is going nowhere, so I think it’s time to put an end to it. You have your opinion I have mine and we ain’t going to change each other’s mind.


This “Suggestion” is doing precisely that.

A single line is hardly a “side trip to setting up their bash environment”.


So what, I can also find 100s of counter examples that don’t do it, these sort of arguments are completely irrelevant. Besides your example isn’t even for the installation of some software it’s about how to use crontab, and yes that is a place where adding such a tip could make sense as it’s clearly aimed at beginners.

But this is all a side issue and still does not make JOE a good choice for default editor.


It’s easy to find bad examples of everything on the Internet, but just because someone else is doing it wrong doesn’t mean we all should. It was you who brought crontab editing into the discussion, btw.


OR we could just have a non-horrible default editor.

Seriously, does anyone here like or even use JOE? I get the impression that they don’t. I can’t see why there is this push-back to keeping it as a default.

If you want to change your editor, then fine change your own default editor. Not everyone else should need to know how to do that to install software on a low-cost, low-effort, web server.

Not everyone here is a grizzled veteran. Not everyone who hosts with DreamHost knows how to use SSH. Not everyone who knows how to use SSH knows how to configure their shell. Blaming those people for not changing away from using JOE is like blaming a child for getting abused by a parent. Sure, they could do something about it if they knew better, but they don’t, and they shouldn’t have to.

sXi: Perhaps all “howtos” should also include installing a shell like PuTTY for Windows users, instructions on connecting to all possible combinations of servers, and a full course on *nix commands. Or maybe, people producing free software should be able to assume a non-horrible editor is available as default.

Just because information is available doesn’t mean that people know how to find it, or what they’re looking for. Command line is scary for many, many people. These people aren’t stupid, they’re just not used to it, so overwhelming them with extra information isn’t going to help, and neither is expecting them to figure it all out for themselves. The best option is if things have sane defaults, and links on how to modify them elsewhere.

Stop assuming that just because you are a power user, everyone else is. The power users aren’t having the problem; the other users are.


No one needs to be a “power user” to use JOE as a text editor.

^ And there’s the solution to your personal choice of editor. Why don’t you do that?

nano is already installed.


No, but for new/inexperienced most users, JOE is a step or 10 outside their comfort zone, and changing it is similarly way out of their experience level.

I’m not asking for nano to be installed, I’m asking for it to be the default $EDITOR, so that new users never need to run into something as horrible as JOE.

Just to reiterate, the main reason why nano is a better choice than JOE for new users is because the “save and quit” is clearly displayed on the screen they get dumped into. Ctrl+x is also easier than Ctrl+k+x.

It’s easier for users who need to do one thing: save the file and exit. All the other features of an editor are completely irrelevant for those users.

As an example, for a new user, seeing JOE or nano:

JOE - note: no clear instructions on how to get out of JOE, or how to save your file.
nano - note: lists the command to ‘exit’ the editor on the main screen.


A single-use scenario involving a very specific class of user is required for any of that to hold up.


Yep the specific class of users who may use this infrequently and have no idea that they can even set a different default editor. The only class for whom the default matters.


No, otto, this very specific class of user is bound to much more than being an “infrequent” user for the argument to have any merit at all. In both editors they must be aware that ^ stands for CTRL. Knowing that, apply some logic.


With only one thing to figure out (what could ^X EXIT possibly mean?) nano is much easier for them then JOE.

Besides I still have not heard any good arguments for why JOE should be the default.


The only reason that joe is currently the default is because it’s installed, and the Debian package for joe is configured to act as an editor “alternative” with a higher priority than nano.

I’m not personally sure why either one of these is the case. But we never made a deliberate decision to make joe the default editor.


If the default editor was vi then it might be a sensible suggestion. vi is not the default editor.

^G^O^R^Y^K^C^X^J^W^V^U^T - None of which helps a single-use case and I’d suggest could probably further confuse the type of user which you attest to be trying to help. Clutter in the workspace or no clutter in the workspace? It’s a no-brainer.

“Exit” means “Quit” or “Close” to a new user. Like closing a window. nano does not say “Save and Quit” (which your argument requires it to in order to make it sound sensible). The inescapable fact is that if this very specific user knows enough to use the CTRL sequence then there is no problem.

JOE is the default; there is no argument necessary for it to be the default.

Trying to compare the two is like comparing Notepad (nano) to Word (JOE). You can edit one line text files in both and get the same results. If you want more features then Word blows Notepad out of the water. The same is true with JOE versus nano. The default is far and away more functional than the suggested substitute.


Clutter? JOE has a line at the bottom that says: "** Joe’s Own Editor v3.7 ** (utf-8) ** Copyright © 2008 **"
That line serves no purpose at all in usability terms. nano at least uses the space at the bottom to list the commands, not add a copyright statement.

What could ^X mean? It’s not shift X because then an X appears in the text. What’s the next possibility? Ah ctrl! He that works. That’s what the average user will go through, at most a few seconds before they’ve figured it out. Besides for decades everyone has been using editors that ask you if you want to save your changes when you exit. It’s expected behavior. And exactly what nano does. So there is no problem there.

You’re demanding that nano be perfect but not holding JOE to the same standard. If you think these little issues are a problem with nano, then JOE is certainly much more of a problem.

This is a completely invalid argument. Either you can argue why it’s better as a default editor or you cannot.

And guess what, no-one uses Word to edit a config file, in spite of all these extra features Word offers.

Besides if you like JOE so much, just set it as your default browser yourself, then whatever the system default is won’t affect you. Problem solved.


I’m not demanding anything; you are. I don’t see an issue with either editor. And that’s the point.

I’ll type more slowly.

JOE is already the default; therefore it requires no argument to make it default.

Not only is that incorrect, it’s also irrelevant.

^ And there’s the solution to your personal choice of editor. Why don’t you do that?

I don’t prefer JOE, nor is it my personal choice of editor :slight_smile:


If you don’t have an issue with either editor, why are you even arguing here. You seem to care an awful lot about keeping JOE as the system wide default.

Nice attitude, I think it’s time to end this conversation.


I’m against the profound lack of logic of both the suggestion and it’s supportive arguments.

You said that last page.

Not difficult.


One More Time: This. Conversation. Is. Over.


Default editor on all machines should now be set to nano. We’re aware it isn’t the best editor ever (not to invite a flamewar about what is), but, as noted upthread, you can always set it to something else if you have a strong opinion on the matter. :slight_smile: For now, nano should be a less intimidating default for new users.


I’ve been working on improving JOE (for version 4.2) to address the issues brought up in this discussion. Can you take a look at:

(check out the latest version of JOE from Mercurial).

I’ve replaced the startup copyright notice with very basic help (how to exit the editor, how to bring up help).

I’ve reworked the first help screen to point out some of the more modern features of the editor, for example Ctrl-Arrow region highlighting.

I’ve improved some other long standing usability issues, see:

Anyway, if you have any other suggestions, please bring them up. I definitely want JOE to compete with nano :slight_smile: