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When editing files like sudoers, I want to use emacs instead of nano. So I ran this command

sudo update-alternatives --config editor

And I selected emacs. The only issue is I like emacs in no window mode (the -nw flag) and I've aliased emacs as emacs='emacs -nw' so that I can use no window mode in normal use, but I don't know how to get my default editor to be in no window mode.

In other words, I need to get the command sudo visudo and similar commands that open up editors to open the file with emacs -nw. How can I do this? I'm on Ubuntu 12.04.

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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

Create a script that starts emacs with -nw flag, e.g. /usr/local/bin/emacs-nw.


emacs -nw "$@"

Install it with update-alternatives --install.

sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/editor editor /usr/local/bin/emacs-nw 2

Configure editor to be your new script.

sudo update-alternatives --set editor /usr/local/bin/emacs-nw
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For those who don't use update-alternatives featured systems, chmod +x /usr/local/bin/emacs-nw and export EDITOR='emacs-nw' in .bashrc do the trick. –  smonff Sep 6 '14 at 19:54

Add the following to your ~/.bashrc file (or the config file for your shell if it is not Bash).

export EDITOR="emacs -nw"

This should set (and export) an env variable setting your default editor as Emacs in non-graphical mode.

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