When it comes to lightweight text editors, Pico and Nano are viable options that are available on Unix-based systems. While they share similarities, understanding their differences will enable users to make an informed choice.
Pico (Pine composer) is a user-friendly text editor known for its simplicity. It features a straightforward interface with an accessible on-screen menu.
The intentions of the software are clear:
- Move the cursor by using arrow keys
- Insert a character by typing
- Save, spell check, etc. by leveraging the on-screen menu instructions
Pico was integrated with the Pine email client, which was developed by the University of Washington and made public in 1992.
NOTE: Pico is not actively developed.
Nano is a modern replacement for Pico that offers additional features and ongoing development. It aims to provide a more powerful editing experience over its predecessor while retaining simplicity.
Nano supports the following features and more:
- Syntax highlighting for software
- Multiple buffers
- Regular expression matching
- Customizable keybindings
Nano was released by Chris Allegretta in 1999 and became apart of the GNU Project in 2001. It was developed because Pico’s earlier license had ambiguous redistribution terms; however, newer version of Pico were released under Apache License V2.
Nano development continues to this day and has an active community of users.
The choice between the two ultimately depends on the user’s needs and preferences.
A few notable points:
picois not actively developed
picodoes not contain common program tooling: syntax highlighting, regex search, etc.
picodoes not support multiple buffers