Nano (text editor)

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In computing, nano is a GPL Licensed curses-based text editor for Unix and Unix-like systems. It is a clone of Pico, the editor of the Pine email client. Nano aims to emulate Pico with some extra functionality.[1]



nano was first created in 1999 under the name TIP (TIP isn't Pico), by Chris Allegretta. His motivation was to create a free software replacement for Pico, since neither it nor Pine were distributed under a free software license. The name was officially changed to nano on January 10, 2000 to disambiguate it from the tip command. The name comes from the system of SI prefixes, where nano is 1000 times bigger than pico, though the recursive backronym "nano's another editor" is sometimes used. In February 2001, nano became an official part of the GNU Project.

nano implements some features that Pico lacks, including colored text, regular expression search and replace, smooth scrolling, multiple buffers, rebindable key support,[2] and (experimental) undoing and redoing of edit changes.[3]

On August 11, 2003, Chris Allegretta officially handed maintenance of nano's unstable branch to David Lawrence Ramsey.[4] On December 20, 2007, David Lawrence Ramsey officially stepped down as nano's maintainer.[5]

Control keys

nano, like Pico, is keyboard-oriented, controlled with control keys. For example, Control-O saves the current file; Control-W goes to the search menu. nano puts a two-line "shortcut bar" at the bottom of the screen, listing many of the commands available in the current context. For a complete list, Control-G gets the help screen.

Unlike Pico, nano uses meta keys to toggle its behavior. For example, Meta-S toggles smooth scrolling mode on and off. Almost all features that can be selected from the command line can be dynamically toggled.

nano can also use a mouse to activate functions that are on the shortcut bar, as well as position the cursor.

See also

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