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It’s not a Fooware - It’s an Operating System

Introduction

Lots of people heard Emacs haters complain that “Emacs is not an editor - it’s an operating system” or something along these lines. So here we’re trying to concentrate other such programs that are no longer limited only to their original purpose, but rather expanded to cover lots of other stuff. So you’ll know that Emacs is not alone.

Are you ready? Let’s go!

The Fooware Programs

It’s not a Text Editor - it’s an Operating System!

GNU Emacs, XEmacs, Gtk+ Emacs, are editors that have everything. Besides editing files, they can send and retrieve mail, read Usenet, browse the web, run and debug code (using several debuggers), and even provide an Eliza implementation (M-x doctor).

Due to that Emacs has been the subject of several jokes:

  • “Emacs is a nice operating system, that just happens to know how to edit files.”
  • “Emacs is a nice operating system, but what it lacks, in order to compete with Linux, is a good text editor.” (Albeit some people may argue that some of its vi-emulation modes may qualify.)

Most people either love Emacs or hate its guts.

It’s not a Shell - it’s an Operating System!

zsh is the Emacs of shells. It has built-in support for sockets, FTP, HTTP, file completion, modules, auto-completion, GUI bindings for Gtk+, a built-in text editor (zed) - the works.

It’s not a Shell - it’s an Operating System! (Reloaded)

Alternatively, BusyBox is an integrated collection of utilities intended for embedded systems, that combines most common utilities with their options into one executable. Aside from the shell it contains such userland utilities as cp, mv, ls, etc. If you can install only one executable - install that.

It’s not an IDE - it’s an Operating System!

Eclipse is the Integrated Development Environment that has everything: an editor, a refactoring browser, code completion, a file browser, interfaces to a build system. It supports many languages including Java (by default), C/C++, XML, PHP and Perl.

It’s not a Browser - it’s an Operating System!

What do you need in your web browser? Surely you also need SMTP/POP/IMAP email (not just webmail), a Newsgroup client, IRC, an HTML editor, plugins and extensions, themes and skins, and a kitchen sink. SeaMonkey (formerly the Mozilla Suite) has all of these and more. “All your Internet Needs in One Application”. Indeed.

It’s not a Virtual Machine - it’s an Operating System!

Squeak Smalltalk has it all. A virtual machine, with a built-in Graphical User-Interface, a built-in Window Manager, a few built-in editors, a built-in package management system, a built-in version control system, and a built-in refactoring browser. The additional packages supply additional functionality.

It’s not a Vi Clone - it’s an Operating System!

Vim - Vi Improved is the Emacs of the vi clones. It has syntax highlighting, tabs, tags, many extensions over vi, plug-ins, has embedded many popular dynamic languages besides its own scripting language, has several interfaces to spell-checking, and has many other features. There was also a project under-way called VINE - Vim Integrated News and Email, that provided news and email functionality to it.

It’s not an Operating System - it’s an Operating System!

Debian GNU/Linux contains packages for practically anything under the sun, including everything mentioned here. As opposed to Microsoft Windows, which a lot of functionality is kept out of, by default (due to Microsoft policy), Debian and other Linux-based distributions are very usable after a DVD installation, perhaps after only installing a few packages.

Licence and Credits

This article originated from the Perl.net.au wiki, which is currently offline. It was mostly written by Shlomi Fish with some help from other people.

The licence is the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike Australia Licence dually licensed with the Artistic Licence.

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