As I’ve mentioned before, whilst I may not be as bad as some

I am (or at least can be) a terrible procrastinator …

So, it has taken me rather longer than it should to investigate a diff solution that doesn’t involve vi / vim — approximately six years in fact.

Normally, it wouldn’t really be an issue … if I want to compare two documents, LibreOffice (or even Kate) will do fine … but as an Arch Linux user, I’m confronted with the need to compare files more frequently than most people thanks to the need to examine pacnew files.

I’ve muddled along so far by either biting the bullet and examining them via pacdiff or … more frequently (i.e. pretty much every time) … opting to do a three monkeys on the basis that, if I ignore them, they’ll stop bothering me — pacdiff relies upon vimdiff, which relies upon vim and, well … just … oh, God, no!

I hate vi / vim.

I mean, I really hate it.

Many, many moons ago, when I first started using Unix, I quickly switched from vi to (Micro)EMACS, because …

Seriously … there’s no truer observation of just how awful vi / vim is than the above — and if you’ve ever used it, you’ll recognise the observations that it has two modes (“beep repeatedly” and “break everything”) and that the simplest way to generate random character sequences is to sit a novice user in front of it and task them with exiting it.

Day to day, Nano does fine for editing config files at the command line, Kate for most text manipulation and LibreOffice for documents/spreadsheets/presentations. I really don’t need EMACS for anything — it’s the third decade of the 21st Century, not the 1960s.

So, it really is time I found an alternative to vim for the purposes of comparing pacnew files with current config files. It’s simply done at the command line, by issuing the command DIFFPROG=<editor of your choice> pacdiff in the same way you change the visudo editor to, say, Nano with EDITOR=nano visudo for example… so, it should be a simple matter of editing the pacdiff entry diffprog=${DIFFPROG:-’vim -d’} to make it permanent and end the headache once and for all.

Nano would be my first choice for a simple, unfussy, CLI based editor to ensure that, in the event I can’t start X and get to my DE (thus ruling out Kate or whatever), I can still upgrade my system and/or compare changed config files with the pacsave versions to ascertain what the cause of the problem might be after an upgrade. But, unfortunately, I cannot, for the life of me, see any way to make it diff two files at all, let alone lay them side-by-side and highlight the changes (which probably explains why I’ve been muddling along for the last six years ¹).

Does anyone have a clue about this? Is there a way to use Nano, or will I have to find something else?

¹ This almost certainly isn’t the first time I’ve looked into this — and it’s pretty much a given that the only reason I say ‘almost’ rather than simply ‘isn’t’ is because I’ve suppressed the trauma of previous attempts deep in my subconscious in much the same way I blithely demur when presented with the opportunity to examine pacnew files.



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Where Angels Fear

Where Angels Fear


There he goes. One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live and too rare to die.