what console text file editor is recomended for a n00bie? I have read a bit on linux and vi and emacs come to mind but after starting vi I didn't know what to do, after starting emacs I couldn't even figure out how to exit!
well if you managed to exit vi then you're halfway there
vi is fantastic - learn to use that - and once you get the hang of it you will wonder how you ever *ever* used anything else. there are excellent tutorials and documents out there, like others suggested.
Basically you can use as many or as few of its features as you want to... but the power *is* there... and if you ever find yourself thinking "wouldn't it be nifty if it could..." then it probably can.
plus vi is installed on everything. period. emacs isn't... nor is nano etc... one day it might be the only way to edit a text file on a system you happen to be on. then you will be glad you learned it.
one last tip - make sure it's ViM that you have installed (latest version is 6.2 or so I think), and don't run it in unix compatability mode - because it sucks and you will hate it