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Install Joe, an easy to use command-line editor UNIX
I would like to recommend Joe's Own Text Editor, version 2.9.7-10.2, kindly made available by OS X GNU, and downloadable here. It comes as a .sit package which is easier to install than the older 2.8 version provided by Apple Downloads, which is a tarball.

Joe, although often described as a "simple" editor is anything but that. True, it is easier to use than virtually any other editor, such as Vim or Emacs, but it is much more powerful than either Pico or Nano. Joe, unlike the others, is an "intuitive" editor, similar to Pico, but more powerful. It is great for new users and old Unix heads alike. With it, you can avoid the lumbering bloat of Emacs and the esoteric incomprehensibility of Vim.

I also recommend downloading both the GNU .sit file and the tar.gz provided by the Apple site. You will see why below. Now the reason I recommend the newer version is because a problem in the sourcing of the ".joerc" file, which could potentially allow a user with malicious motives to execute arbitrary commands, especially in a "world writable" file. Of course, this is less of a problem in OS X.2 than it is in Linux, as OS X is inherently more secure. Nevertheless, I recommend the newer version from GNU, not only for the security update, but also because it is simply better than the older version.

There is only one tweak you may have to do to get the option keys to work properly. Joe requires a ".joerc" file to run. This joerc file is usually installed into "~/" or into "/etc/joe/joerc". Sometimes the installer does not install this file. So the user must create this file, normally in ~/.joerc. Now here's the fun. Let's say you have just created an empty ~/.joerc file.

The next step after the installation of v2.9.7, if you find that the key options in Joe do not work, is to download the other Joe, provided by Apple and to untar it with OpenUp or whatever. You will be presented with a series of folders to place on your system. We are only interested in one item in the "usr" folder. In the usr folder is the lib folder, and in that is the "joerc" file we are looking for with all the great options scripted nicely. Open that with TextEdit then paste it "as-is" into the ~/.joerc file you previously created. Now all should work like a charm.

For further information, type "man joe" in a terminal window after the installation. Believe me, you won't regret having installed this editor, especially having used the head scratchers like Vim.

[Editor's note: I installed Joe through the package installer and all went fine, although I did have to create the .joerc file using the Apple package.]
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Install Joe, an easy to use command-line editor | 11 comments | Create New Account
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available via Fink, too...
Authored by: marmoset on Nov 11, '02 07:30:03AM

If you use Fink, a simple "fink install joe" will sort ya.

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available via Fink, too...
Authored by: Glanz on Nov 11, '02 09:27:55AM

Yes, but for those who do not use Fink, this is a good method. I for one cannot install Fink on OS X.2 as yet. The bootstrapping install simply does not work. So I have a complete BSD subsystem with dlcompat which enables me to use XFree86, FreeBSD Ports , OpenDarwin, etc... Mostly I just compile myself, which means I have to create my own tarballs that redirect most often to /use/local... I would rather use Fink, but their bootstrap instrustions simply do not work. "Cannot make" messages are the most frequent, even without the GNU sys in place.

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available via Fink, too...
Authored by: Glanz on Nov 11, '02 09:30:11AM

OOOOOpa.... that should read /usr/local.......

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A good
Authored by: Glanz on Nov 11, '02 09:53:33AM

Professor Norm Matloff's Joe Editor Web Page

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GNUsoft OSX pkgs
Authored by: Glanz on Nov 11, '02 10:48:10AM

At that site, you may download Unix apps in OSX installer format. It is worth checking out because all of these packages are as easy to install as OSX updates.

The only reason I fool around with other formats, tarballs and redirection of filing and permissions is because I am a hopeless geek.

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GNUsoft OSX pkgs
Authored by: marmoset on Nov 11, '02 12:04:42PM

Do they do "the right thing" as far as pathing the installs? The thing that drove me nuts about some of these PKG-ized tools is that some folks insist on installing things directly into /usr/bin (instead of /usr/local/bin or an entirely seperate tree like the one fink uses)

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GNUsoft OSX pkgs
Authored by: osxpounder on Nov 12, '02 03:02:57PM

Well, I thought I'd be able to answer your question after trying out the downloadable OSX pkg, but .... after installing [with no error messages], I find no evidence of joe anywhere. It doesn't run [nor does "man joe"], it doesn't turn up in file searches .... I installed again to see if there was something I'd missed, like a warning to log out after installing, but found no reason why joe shouldn't install.

So much for the ease of OSX packages.

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GNUsoft OSX pkgs
Authored by: osxpounder on Nov 12, '02 04:09:21PM

Whoops, found joe.

Joe installed into /usr/local/bin .... in order to run it, I can specify it directly:


and I suppose I could look up how to append /usr/local/bin to my path so that I could just type "joe" .... but I still don't know how to get "man joe" to work.

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Authored by: soulrider2k on Nov 12, '02 04:23:01PM

for tcsh users :-)

Add the following to your ~/.tcshrc

setenv PATH "${PATH}:/usr/local/bin"
setenv MANPATH "${MANPATH}:/usr/local/man"

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Authored by: osxpounder on Nov 14, '02 12:55:09PM

Thanks, soulrider2k. I pasted both those lines into my ~/.tcshrc file. Now joe works and his man page comes up, but when I log in, I see:

MANPATH: Undefined variable.

So apparently when I log in, there is no MANPATH variable set initially, and .tcshrc expects there to already be one?

Is that a prob I should worry about? I.e., is this "MANPATH: Undefined variable." a bad thing?


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Install Joe, an easy to use command-line editor
Authored by: torsten! on Oct 26, '11 04:16:04AM

Installing joe version 3.7.11 from on Lion works perfectly without any need for manual adjustments.

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