Talk:ed (text editor)

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Topics from 2005-2008[edit]

Use of word Ed[edit]

Is this really the most common usage for the word Ed? Among the general population the nickname, television show, and movie, would all be better known than the text editor. Perhaps the disambig page should be moved here. - SimonP 02:59, August 31, 2005 (UTC)

No, but everyone else is Ed Something. And nobody will search for Ed when looking for Ed McMahon. Ed the editor is the only thing that is JUST ed. --Xanthar 09:54, 20 October 2005 (UTC)

Yeah, except for "the nickname, television show, and movie". Those numbers again are "the nickname, television show, and movie". - 06:20, 3 December 2005 (UTC)

shell prompts[edit]

perhaps show the fuller $ ed [file?] at the begining of the session at least, so we know we don't start out of thin air.

"The ed commands are often imitated in other line-based editors. For example, EDLIN in early MS-DOS versions had a somewhat similar syntax, and text editors in many MUDs (LPMud and descendants, for example) use ed-like syntax. These editors, however, are typically more limited in function."

I was tempted to add "as hard as that may be to believe", but since ed does have regexen, I let it slide. 23:31, 8 June 2006 (UTC)

Short Shrift by Poor Example[edit]

I'm no great fan of ed and I'm no expert on it, either. However, I do know that a real master at ed can be amazingly adept at using it. The little example session is adequate for giving the flavor of how a novice might use it; but I'm sorely tempted to add a section on advanced editing techniques that show how someone with a modicum of proficiency might use it.

For example:

$ed /etc/passwd
1       root:x:0:0:root:/root:/bin/sh
2       daemon:x:1:1:daemon:/usr/sbin:/bin/sh
3       bin:x:2:2:bin:/bin:/bin/sh
4       sys:x:3:3:sys:/dev:/bin/sh
5       sync:x:4:65534:sync:/bin:/bin/sync
6       games:x:5:60:games:/usr/games:/bin/sh
7       man:x:6:12:man:/var/cache/man:/bin/sh
20       lp:x:7:7:lp:/var/spool/lpd:/bin/sh
21      mail:x:8:8:mail:/var/mail:/bin/sh
22      news;x:9:9:news:/var/spool/news:/bin/sh
23      uucp:x:10:10:uucp:/var/spool/uucp:/bin/sh
Press <RETURN> to continue...
s/0:0:root/123:123:Fred O. Oppenheimer/
foo:x:123:123:Fred O. Oppenheimer:/home/foo:/bin/sh

... etc.

Note that using ,n was a quick way to browse the whole file with the lines numbered. Patterns like /foo/,/^bar/ could be used with l, p, or n to view ranges of lines between two patterns ... as well as deleted or copied with commands like d and t (transfer).

So this example edits a Unix passwd file, removes all the accounts between (and including) bin through lp, then transfers a copy of line 1 to the line following line 10; and finally substitues new username, UID/GID and GECOS "full name" fields into that line and changes the home directory for this new account and finally prints the resulting line, and writes then quits. This just a trite example, and I'm certainly no master at ed (I mostly bumble through on a dim memories of ex which mostly works the same. However, sometimes I still find occasional to use more advanced ex commands when I'm using vi --- like the time recently when I needed to clean up a long list where the lines at been wrapped in an e-mail cut and paste, and I need them back in their canonical form. I would have taken forever by hand, but using :%g/^[^0-9]/j did it in a blink).

BTW it seems oddly worth noting that, in the rare case where you need to add a line consisting only of a single "dot" then you can accomplish it in ed by adding a line containing an x (any arbitrary character or string) and following that with a command like: s/x/./ -JimD, 09:34, 24 April 2007


Great article! Thanks all. - Tyler Oderkirk (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 17:31, 2 February 2008 (UTC)

Topics from 2009-2010[edit]

ed is the standard text editor on the Unix operating system?[edit]

How exactly is this true? As far as I know at least vi is part of both SUSv2 and POSIX, and many other editors could be considered "standard unix editors". If it turns out to be true that ed is in some relevant sense more standard than the other standard editors, then I think at least a citation is needed. Otherwise I think it should really say "[...] is a standard [...]" or similar. (I won't change this now, since I see that this sentence was already changed back and forth several times.) (talk) 01:00, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

"ed is the standard text editor" is a quote from the original UNIX (non-GNU) ed man page, and that phrase is a very famous one, famous enough to serve as the name of the humor piece linked at the end of the article.
The original man page should be cited out of thoroughness, of course, but the phrase is not in doubt.
On the other hand, people sometimes argue that some other editor (emacs, nvi, vim, pico, etc) has become more widely used than ed, so the phrase should be changed to "was the standard", but I disagree. "Standard" is not the same thing as "most commonly used", and I don't think anyone can prove which editor is most commonly used anyway.
One could also claim that ed is and was the standard by proclamation by the creaters of UNIX, and if there has never been a similarly authoritative update proclamation, then the original claim remains true. Dougmerritt (talk) 15:43, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
Here's one copy of the original ed man page (they're a bit hard to find amidst the zillions of copies of the ed humor pages): Dougmerritt (talk) 15:53, 14 April 2009 (UTC)
1. When was that man page written? How do you know it is still applicable? The article does not say ed "was" the standard editor, or say it was so "from 1969 to 1984" or suchlike.
2. If ed is currently called the standard text editor on, say, Solaris, what about other Unix operating systems? In HP-UX, for example, ed is called simply "a line-oriented text editor" (
3. If "the Unix operating system" is supposed only to mean AT&T Unix before 1988, ed is nevertheless available on many other systems where it is not "the standard text editor". If Debian or even Cygwin come installed with ed, an accurate encyclopedia article will begin with the general statement that "ed is a text editor" of some kind, not with the specific statement that "ed is the standard text editor" on a specific system, even if that system is the original system. Likewise, the article on spacecraft does not begin with the sentence "a spacecraft is a fictional vessel for traveling the stars" and the article on computer monitors does not begin with the sentence "a computer monitor is a device that uses a cathode-ray tube to display images from a computer". —Centrxtalk • 04:30, 15 April 2009 (UTC)
1. That man page is from version 6 Unix, so that's around 1975, and dates from before UNIX split up into many different versions, so it is an authoritative source at least for its time.
2. Anyone who wants to argue that, although it has been established that it once was "the standard", it no longer is, must avoid original research by giving strong citations demonstrating that it ceased to be "the standard", and yes, that job certainly would be complicated by the splintering of Unix and Posix and Unix-like systems.
3. Attempting to prove that it definitely ceased to be "the standard" smacks of hair-splitting in my book, since it's extremely unlikely that it can be proven, but arguments attempting but failing to make the case could consume an indefinite amount of energy on both sides of the argument, with no clear payoff in the end:
4. What difference does it really make? It's to the point that other editors are more popular and/or more commonly used for day to day work or whatever, and that can be clarified further in the article, if need be, without getting into the less clear side-issue of what "standard editor" even means today.
5. Again, the quote "ed is the standard text editor" is a famous quote; it's just asking for controversy when a famous quote gets re-worded. Dougmerritt (talk) 21:12, 16 April 2009 (UTC)
I appreciate the thoughtful answer, but I still have to disagree. On your points:
1. Strike the "at least". Otherwise, yes, I tend to agree here. But the question at hand is not whether it was the standard in 1975, so I don't see how this is relevant.
2. Your stated requirement that a citation to non-original research is needed to remove the claim that "ed is the standard" strikes me as backwards and disingenuous. A 1975 man page is obviously not enough to claim that something is the standard still today. Yet the "is the standard" claim unambiguously includes the latter. Citations to research are needed if a claim is made, not if a claim is not made.
3. See 2. Also, if the statement was not falsifiable as you suggest, that in itself would be grounds for removing it.
4. What difference it makes? It makes it appear that Unix has really low standards, and suggests that this is what people actually use, i.e., it is misinformation.
5. So you think that the article on Stalin should start out with "Stalin is the greatest leader of our times" or the article on Titanic that "Titanic is the safest ship of the 20th century."? There are certainly famous quotes along those lines. Just because a quote is famous does not make it an appropriate description; even less so if the quote is nowadays mainly famous because it appears in a joke. Also, quotes should be put in quotation marks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:14, 22 April 2009 (UTC)

Retrofit talk-page year headers[edit]

16-April-2009: I have added subheaders above as "Topics from 2005" (etc.) to emphasize the dates of topics in the talk-page. Older topics might still apply, but using the year headers helps to focus on more current issues as well. Afterward, I dated/named unsigned comments and moved entries (including "Gratitude") into date order for 2008. -Wikid77 (talk) 16:09, 16 April 2009 (UTC)

Citation and clarification?[edit]

This line could use citation:

"If something goes wrong, ed is sometimes the only editor available. This is often the only time when it is used interactively."

I'm genuinely curious about this and would love to know where that comes from. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jacobmoe (talkcontribs) 01:22, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Release year[edit]

Same problem that we had here: 1971 can hardly be considered the year of "first release" of ed, since Unix wasn't "released" in that year except to Bell Labs's patent department, by Bell Labs's computer research group. QVVERTYVS (hm?) 15:22, 10 September 2015 (UTC)