From Fedora Project Wiki

< Changes

Revision as of 17:13, 25 June 2020 by Bcotton (talk | contribs) (Announcing the change proposal)

Make nano the default editor


Let's make Fedora more approachable, by having a default editor that doesn't require specialist knowledge to use.


Current status

  • Targeted release: Fedora 33
  • Last updated: 2020-06-25
  • FESCo issue: <will be assigned by the Wrangler>
  • Tracker bug: <will be assigned by the Wrangler>
  • Release notes tracker: <will be assigned by the Wrangler>

Detailed Description

Users are exposed to the default editor when they use commands that call it. The main example here is something like git commit.

Fedora does not currently have a default terminal text editor, because the $EDITOR environment variable is unset by default. But a common scenario where users wind up in a terminal text editor is when using 'git commit'. By default, git picks vi. You need to spend time learning how to use it, for even basic editing tasks. This increases the barrier to entry for those who are switching to Fedora and don't know how to use vi. It also makes things hard for those who don't particularly want to learn how to use vi. (These arguments would apply just as well if git picked Vim. vi is like hard mode for Vim, with fewer features, missing syntax highlighting, and no indication of what mode you are in. Even Vim users may feel lost and bewildered when using vi.)

In contrast, Nano offers the kind of graphical text editing experience that people are used to, and therefore doesn't require specialist knowledge to use. It is already installed across most Fedora Editions and Spins. This proposal will make Nano the default editor, while continuing to install vim-minimal (which provides vi, but not Vim). People will still be able to call vi if they want to edit a file. It will also obviously be possible to change the default editor to vi or Vim, for those who want it.

Why make Nano default and vi optional, rather than the other way round? Because Nano is the option that everyone can use.


Pending ...

Benefit to Fedora

  • Makes the default editor across all of Fedora more approachable.
  • Nano is also mostly self-documenting, by displaying common keyboard shortcuts on-screen.
  • More in line with the default editor of other distributions.


  • Proposal owners:
    • Modify comps to include nano Fedora wide.
    • Create a new subpackage of nano, called nano-editor.
    • nano-editor to include /usr/lib/environment.d/10-nano.conf, which sets $EDITOR to nano.

With this approach, if nano is uninstalled, the configuration will be removed with it. At the same time, installing nano on its own won't install the conf.

  • Other developers: N/A
  • Release engineering: #9522
  • Policies and guidelines: N/A
  • Trademark approval: N/A

Upgrade/compatibility impact

Will not apply to upgrades.

How To Test

Run export EDITOR="/usr/bin/nano".

User Experience

Users running git commit will be able to just type their commit message, rather than having to learn about insert mode, and they'll be able to cut and paste without having to learn special shortcuts.


No additional dependencies are required.

Contingency Plan

The contingency plan is to revert the change by removing the nano-editor package.

  • Contingency deadline: probably the beta? It's an easy change to revert.
  • Blocks release? If the change breaks the redirection to an editor, it should block the release. However, this is unlikely.
  • Blocks product? Potentially all.


As part of this change, it would be good to add instructions for changing the default editor to the quick docs.

Release Notes