The question of moving vi to /bin

Manish Jain invalid.pointer at
Thu Jun 25 05:03:03 UTC 2009

> If you want to make a case for replacing ed(1), you're going to have
> to come up with some concrete reasons for doing so, not just make a
> (long and hyperbolic) statement that you don't like it.

Any Unix tool has to clearly fall either under the category of 
non-interactive (grep, sed, ex) or interactive (vi, wget, sysinstall). 
The case of non-interactive tools is simple : just do what you are told 
on the commandline and exit. For interactive tools, at a minimum, the 
application has to be show what data it is working on and what it does 
with the data when the user presses a key (or a series of them). ed was 
never meant to be non-interactive, and it does not fulfil the basic 
requirements of being interactive. That's one reason. Secondly, how many 
times does an average commandline user even think of using ed when he 
needs to edit a file, even in the extreme case where there are no 
alternatives ?

> There have been some recent changes:
> <>
> that suggest that this problem is being addressed.

Till the improvements are in place, we need the alternative of having vi 
under /bin rather than /usr/bin.

Actually, it surprises me to what extent the core of the FreeBSD 
community is enamoured with this idea of a micro-minimalistic base, in 
which it is practically impossible to do anything except run fsck. 
Matters don't stop there. Seeing the limitations of this approach, the 
community churns up wierd workarounds like /rescue/vi, when all that was 
needed was shift vi from /usr. You talk about the need for compliance 
with old hardware and embedded systems to save a few kilos. How old is 
the hardware that you have in mind ? The oldest system running FreeBSD I 
know of is a 1997 Pentium with a 2 GB disk, and even that can easily 
withstand the change I am suggesting. Machines older than that are 
actually DEAD and don't have to be factored in. As for embedded systems, 
the primary target of FreeBSD is servers, workstations and *tops. The 
embedded world hasn't survived riding on FreeBSD, nor the other way 
round. So from the viewpoint of the greatest good of the largest number, 
over-indulging a mindset fixed around minimizing the base only leads to 
degradation, not improvement. Getting to boast of a 900K / won't do any 
good when people are thinking of having decent firepower (even while in 
single-user mode) and its ease of use.

But I guess my words are of no use when the people who matter just won't 
listen. So I give any hopes in this regard.

Manish Jain
invalid.pointer at

Laast year I kudn't spell Software Engineer. Now I are won.

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