The question of moving vi to /bin

Chad Perrin perrin at
Wed Jun 24 16:16:34 UTC 2009

On Wed, Jun 24, 2009 at 06:13:49AM -0700, b. f. wrote:
> > On Tuesday 23 June 2009 15:41:48 Manish Jain wrote:
> >That's the whole problem of /rescue/vi. When you suddenly find yourself
> >in single-user mode, the last thing you want to do is realise that
> >tweaking is needed for something which should work normally just when
> >you need it, and quickly too.
> Yes.  But there have been some recent changes:
> that suggest that this problem is being addressed.

That's definitely good news.  There isn't much point in putting something
in /rescue that won't work when other filesystems won't mount.

> >But why are we talking about a few hundred
> >kilos for such a basic utility as vi in times when everyone has hundreds
> >of GB's on the disk, and the / partition itself is 512 MB by default.
> >The BSD concept of having vi under /usr originated when resources were
> >less by a factor of thousands (<= (100 MB disks), <= (8 MB physical RAM)
> >and so on). When we are well past those kind of constraints, the concept
> >needs an rethink.
> No, we're not.  A lot of people are still using old hardware, or
> embedded hardware, where efficiency in space and computational effort
> are still important, and will remain so for a while.  Please don't
> encourage bloat.

I sympathize with the desire to keep "bloat" down for the minimal default
case.  Embedded systems were the first examples that came to mind for
cases where having vi in /bin might not be ideal.

On the other hand, I don't see any reason to refuse to offer an optional
install of /bin/vi for those who prefer it and don't want to have to
brute-force "install" it by manually copying it, thus eliminating
relatively simple and easy upgrades when security concerns demand it.

Chad Perrin [ original content licensed OWL: ]
Quoth Jon Postel, RFC 761: "[B]e conservative in what you do, be liberal
in what you accept from others."
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