I stumbled on the book Ed Mastery by Michael W. Lucas and couldn’t tell immediately whether it was serious. In a sort of technical version of Poe’s law, Lucas lays on the technical machismo pretty thick, but not thicker than some people do unironically.
Here’s a paragraph from early in the book.
Many younger sysadmins naively hoist their pennants to defend overblown, overwrought, overdesigned text editors like
vi, or even the impossibly bloated
nvi. A few are so lost as to devote themselves to turgid editors meant for mere users, such as
vimand Emacs. This way lies not only appalling sysadmin skills, but an absence of moral fiber. As a sysadmin, you must have enough brain power to remember what you typed, to hold your own context in your head, and to truly commune with the machine on a deep and personal level.
By the time I read the reference to moral fiber I was pretty sure the author was being facetious.
The afterword to the book begins
Okay, come on Lucas, you’re not really serious here… are you?
I am. And I’m not.
This is what I find most interesting:
ed is so minimal that it seems masochistic to use it, and yet it is also practical.
I’ve used Emacs for many years, but I’ve been learning the basics of
vi because it is lightweight and installed everywhere . But
ed is even more lightweight and also installed everywhere.
My attraction to
vi was that it’s complementary to Emacs. But
ed is even more complementary.
ed is so small that you don’t have to prioritize what to learn: just learn every feature. That is emphatically not true of
vim or Emacs. Apparently you can learn
ed in a day. Peter Krumins said
From my experience, once I had completed this cheat sheet and had it in front of me, I picked
edup in 30 minutes. And then spent a few more hours experimenting and trying various constructs.
I also find
ed linguistically interesting. A lot of
ed syntax is familiar because other tools inherited part of their syntax from
ed. For example,
grep are direct descendants of
ed, and the output of
diff is basically
ed syntax; with the
-e flag the output of
vim is “
vi improved,” and
vi was a visual interface to
ex, which was an extension to
 Here “everywhere” means “every Unix-like system.” When I worked in the Windows ecosystem I found this way of speaking arrogant and absurd. The large majority of the world’s desktops run Windows, and something that isn’t installed on Windows is hardly installed “everywhere.” Now I catch myself talking that way.