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 Forum index » Advanced Topics » Additional Software (PETs, n' stuff) » Unsorted
SUE - Simple Unix Editor
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Joined: 02 Feb 2009
Posts: 894

PostPosted: Sun 21 Feb 2010, 20:50    Post subject:  SUE - Simple Unix Editor
Subject description: A plain text editor for Linux with the WordStar command set

In 1982, a chap named Richard Forbes published an article in Byte Magazine about VDO, a Video Display Oriented editor for early micros running the CP/M OS. It was intended to demonstrate the capabilities of writing in MMV Assembler. Editors at the time tended to be line oriented, like MS-DOS Edlin or Unix ed, and VDO implemented a full screen editor. It was tiny, assembling to a 4K executable, and implemented a limited set of editing commands, but it was a place to start.

A developer named Eric Meyer picked up the source code to a variant of VDO called VDO-EX, aimed at the Osborne machine Eric used, and began writing an enhanced editor called VDE (Video Display Editor). VDE was modeled after the then popular WordStar word processor for CP/M systems, and used the WordStar command set. But it was faster than WordStar, because it did everything in one file instead of using overlays, and it implemented things like macros which WordStar didn't get until later.

In 1987, Eric shifted development to MS-DOS (and still maintains the DOS version - a 1.96a release appeared in November 2009.) He turned his assembler source over to Carson Wilson, who continued to develop and enhance it as ZDE.

Around 1992, Bill Kuykendall of PPCI hired Carson to create a Unix version of VDE, which was originally called UDE (Unix Display Editor), and then renamed SUE (Simple Unix Editor). Bill selected the features and managed the development process. Carson wrote the code from scratch in C. It was intended to resemble VDE, but not be an exact clone. For example, VDE's printer support features were omitted because Unix had an entire printer sub-system.

SUE uses WordStar commands by default, but has an optional function key driven interface. It's a console mode application, run in a terminal from a command line. By default, it uses color in menus, but can be forced to mono mode.

From the Man Page:
Specifically, SUE provides the following functionality:

o Terminal-independent, optimized full screen text editing;

o Dual command modes (control-key and function-key);

o Context sensitive, interactive help display;

o Novice and expert modes;

o Secure mode (restricts access to file system);

o Wordwrap, right margin set, and paragraph reformat;

o Transparent access to Unix, MSDOS, and (quasi-)Macintosh file formats;

o Undelete (yeah!);

o Insert/overstrike toggle;

o Block move, copy, delete, and write to file;

o File import.

It's intended to be a relatively powerful text editor while remaining small and easy to use. If you need fancy control of the printed page, look at something like AbiWord or Open Office Writer. If you need syntax highlighting for a variety of languages and development support, look at Geany, Emacs or the like.

I've been a long time user of VDE under DOS, and was pleased to find a Unix editor that resembled it.

I've provided two archives. Sue.tar.gz contains a static Linux binary called sue, a man page, and a README.SUE file with a bit of background on the product. Sue07i.tar.gz is the C source code, reported to compile "out of the box" on Solaris. (I have not tried to build it on Puppy. The supplied bainary works fine.)

No installation is required. Drop sue a directory in the PATH like /usr/bin. Run it from a command line as "sue [filename]" (You may need to chmod +x to make it executable.)

(If desired, you could write a wrapper script like

rxvt -geometry 80x50 -bg black -fg white -title -e sue

to run sue in an 80x50 rxvt window with white type on a black background and sue as the window title, and attach that to a desktop icon.)

The executable is 320KB, and invokes almost instantly on my old Lifebook.
Description  Simple Unix Editor static Linux executable, man page, and readme file

Filename  sue.tar.gz 
Filesize  127.58 KB 
Downloaded  304 Time(s) 
Description  Simple Unix Editor 07i C source archive

Filename  sue07i.tar.gz 
Filesize  30.02 KB 
Downloaded  292 Time(s) 
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Joined: 23 Mar 2009
Posts: 623
Location: Western United States

PostPosted: Sun 21 Apr 2019, 17:48    Post subject: Dynamically-linked SUE  

Musher0's enthusiasm for Joe's Own Editor as a writer's text editor rekindled my own interest in the old DOS text editor VDE, and its Linux derivative SUE.

As SUE is a mini version of WordStar, some people might find SUE to be a nice, lighter alternative to JOE.

The current home of SUE and its DOS ancestor VDE is here:


Nothing seems to have changed since DMcCunney's post above, although I am not certain of that. At any rate, from the Files Section I downloaded "sue.zip" which contains the man page, README, and the statically-linked executable, which ran just fine on Puppy 4.1.2 Retro as well as SailorE's current Slacko5.8.3 CE. However, as DMcCunney noted, this executable weighs in at over 300K.

So I downloaded the source tarball "sue07i.tgz" and compiled a dynamically-linked version on Puppy 4.1.2 with the command

make linux

After stripping, this executable weighs in at only 47K. It works fine on Puppy 4.1.2 Retro, Slacko5.8.3CE, and radky's DPupStretch 7.5 RC4, so it should work pretty much anywhere.

A couple of notes:

On DPupStretch, SUE works in both LXTerminal and urxvt. But it does require at least 80 columns, and on my setup I found that I needed to run urxvt with at least 82 columns.

On Slacko5.8.3 CE, the backspace key performs a delete of the CURRENT character, not the previous character. (The statically-compiled executable also behaves this way.)

Edit: deleted mistaken reference to this problem also occurring with Puppy 4.1.2 Retro. It doesn't.
Edit2: This problem doesn't occur with SailorE's Slacko5.7.1 CE either, so it is probably an isolated issue due to some peculiarity of Slacko 5.8.3 CE.

For those who might be interested, I've attached my dynamically-linked executable. As I noted, you can get the official statically-linked version along with the documentation and source from the sites.google.com link above. These are probably identical to what DMcCunney provided in his links.
Description  This is a dynamically-linked executable. Remove fake ".gz" extension and place it anywhere in your PATH

Filename  sue.gz 
Filesize  45.98 KB 
Downloaded  55 Time(s) 
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Joined: 09 May 2008
Posts: 871
Location: Gatton, Queensland

PostPosted: Tue 30 Apr 2019, 17:34    Post subject:  

Thank you for this, 6502coder Smile
I won't be able to test it out for a while - racing other deadlines - but since your recent post on the JOE thread I've hunted around for WordStar -like editors following your links to real/published writers' perspectives. Thought that maybe there might even be a emulation module in Latex etc (like the jstar feature in JOE) to evoke ol'-timey functionality for writing in streams of consciousness (whatevs). Wouldn't have to emulate the glorious Hercules Amber screens, but something like REVEAL CODES would be a major winner, in my regard. No success for me in that regard, so something like SUE will do in the interim, cheers!
(Now if only could find a WordStar keyboard template for a IBM/Lenovo laptop, like we had for ye olde Kaypro 10...)

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