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I am currently working in an environment where I have to deal with a lot of remote machines (test machines, customer setups, build servers) and frequently edit/read files on them. I use ssh to access these machines. Till now I have used vi on all setups. But there are some problems with this approach.

  1. Some servers being AIX and HPUX ones, don't have the updated vim packages and on most locations the older vi editor is installed.
  2. The keybindings are almost always messed up on these machines, backspace/delete buttons rarely work in bash and vi unless you change the .xxxrc files.
  3. Is a pool of test machines which are used on need basis by the team and the OS is frequently reinstalled to replicate a customer scenario while handling escalations. So taking pains to setup things on a single machine is not worth while.

When I read about emacs' remote editing mode/remote shell it seemed like the perfect answer. But I am a newbie to emacs so I don't have much idea about its pitfalls if any.

I want to know a objective comparison of these two approaches and if there is a third better way of doing things.

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closed as not constructive by terdon, Daniel Andersson, Dennis, slhck Feb 20 '13 at 12:21

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Voting to close, we don't want to open a new front in the emacs vs vim war on SU (especially since everyone knows emacs is better :-) ). – terdon Feb 20 '13 at 11:22

I think this question is far too subjective. It is all down to personal preference.

You could try either:

  • Learn the full vi instruction/key mappings so you don't need to use backspace and delete
  • Learn emacs

It really doesn't matter. Personally, I would suggest that as you already know vi you stick with it, but emacs is very powerful.

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The common feature of all remote machines appears to be SSH, so I would launch (g)Vim on your own machine and remotely edit the files, either using SSHFS or from within Vim with the netrw plugin, which comes preinstalled with Vim:

vim scp://hostname/path/to/file

If you need to find files, execute commands, etc. remotely, you can always open a separate SSH connection.

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