I am new to ubuntu ..So basically an OS has an app for a purpose.. But ubuntu has three basic text-editors..like nano, vi, emacs ...

So what is the reason for that? and what are the advantages and disadvantages between these editors?


2 Answers 2


Let's start with the two big ones:

  • vi is installed by default on almost all Linux (and other Unix) systems for many decades. This makes it something like the lowest common denominator, the editor every Linux/Unix user should at least know a little bit about in order to fix small problems (and install other editors if they want). As a result of its ubiquity it is used by many system administrators. Note that in most cases vi is actually vim (VI improved).
  • emacs has been around for almost as long as vi. Compared to vi it eats more system resources (although that isn't much of an issue anymore nowadays). In my experience, emacs is used less by system administrators, but more in the scientific world.

I would advise to learn at least one of these two editors, even though their learning curve is steeper than nano's. They've been around for ages and are extremely powerful. When considering which of the two editors to choose, please beware of the editor war. See also this unix.stackexchange.com post.

As for nano, it is a 'follow-up' from the pico editor, that was used by the pine command line e-mail program. nano is easier to use for users that are new to the command line (basically because it list the keyboard shortcuts at the bottom of the screen).


Ubuntu has nano and vi as command line editor editor and gedit as GUI based text editor. Each of these has their own advantage and disadvantage which is too broad to explain here.

In short few editor are easy to use but less productive where as some are little complex but greatly productive. However selecting any editor or software is matter of personal interest.

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