February 15, 2018

The VIM editor

The Vim editor is what you get when you type "vi" on a linux system. Strictly speaking, this might not be true, there are other vi clones for linux, but over the years they have all fallen by the wayside and been eclipsed by vim.

Fedora "vi" is not "vim" !!

I will mention this front and center in case it saves somebody grief. On Fedora there are two different things: /bin/vi and /bin/vim. I like to invoke "vim" by typing "vi" as I have done since time immemorial. This was giving me "vi" (whatever it is) rather than full featured "vim". The main symptom of this was that my .vimrc was being ignored. This had me pulling my hair out until I discovered what they are doing. This is a bad idea on their part, but there is not much I can do about it. What I do to fix this is to put the following lines in my .bashrc
# Fedora vi is some horrible thing.
alias vi='vim'

My experience with vi

I began using the original "vi" editor back in 1979 or so, before there was linux and vim. At that time emacs was not an option and many of the young guys now using vim had not even been born yet. Because of this, I have deeply ingrained habits and have never even examined alternatives to "vi". Many of the hotly contested editor wars are besides the point to me and I have no dog in the fight. Use whatever you like.

Vim has a plethora of advanced features, many of which I have never learned to use. I should. I should, as the saying goes, "sharpen my saw".

If you are a programmer, or anyone who does serious work on a computer, a text editor is your most commonly and heavily used tool. You will spend 80 percent of your time (or more) using a text editor. It is well worth the time invested to learn how to use it well.

If you are a programmer and have never learned how to touch type, that is absolutely the very first thing you should learn. It isn't that hard! Do it, then come back and learn how to use vi.

My resources

If you are forced to use Eclipse, like I do for Android/Java development, you should know that there is an excellent Vim plugin. Add that, adjust a few eclipse settings, and things can get pretty nice.


Note that the Practical Vim book is available as a free online e-book.


Feedback? Questions? Drop me a line!

Tom's Computer Info / tom@mmto.org