Nokia N900 - Editors Revisited

by Tina Holmboe 25th of March 2010 (archive)

I’ve heard many silly ideas in my life. The one sprouted on an N900 / Maemo forum today wasn’t the worst, by far, but it makes the Top Twenty with ease: «A smartphone without an internet [sic] connection isn’t a smartphone!»

Allow me to guffaw.

And to proceed with looking at one of the many things you can do on a smartphone: edit. Despite the howls of outrage I stand by my view: it is quite possible to not only edit text, but write text, on a smartphone. I’ve written entire articles on the Palm T|X with a virtual keyboard; the N900 just makes it that much easier.

But in order to do so we need an editor — and luckily, this being Linux, there is a multitude to chose from. I’m certain there are more than what I’ve tested here, so consider it merely an inspiration.

Vi: yes, indeed. What Unix–based operating system would be complete without it? It works as expected, which is to say a wee illogical but as one is used to from «desktop» distributions.

Vim: most certainly. This one needs to be installed, but the process is painless and, again, it works as expected — not that different from Vi, but some prefer it.

Emacs: QEmacs, to be specific, and yes. Again with a need for installation. Some very odd flaws («Press F1 for Help»? You sure about that?) and an exceedingly tiny font, it may not be for everyone — and despite my 22–year long lovestory with Emacs…. I’m not going to use it. It’s the ESC sequence. I can’t find it on the physical keyboard, and the virtual one doesn’t answer my call. Until I have the time to hack LISP and fix the font, no go.

Leafpad: I am not normally fond of GTK, seeing that most apps created with this library tend to mess up when in contact with my ctwm — in particular refusing to honour my auto–raise–delay setting. But leafpad, on the N900, does not suffer this problem, has a nice font setting dialogue, and word wraps. This might become my next staple.

All of these editors save as UTF–8 by default, and the text files are emminently readable both on Windows and Linux/Unix.

PyGTKEditor: Not tested this one.