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Cinematography 10-04-2007 12:54 AM

nano vs vi
Why do people love vi so much? :confused:

I just tried it. I've never used a less straight forward text editor. :D What is it used for, and why it is so loved when there are easier editors like nano available? Maybe vi is more featureful?

I wish more distros would come with vi and nano.

Hiko 10-04-2007 01:04 AM


Originally Posted by Cinematography (Post 2912628)
Why do people love vi so much? :confused:

I have no idea to be honest. I learned vi first. It works great for the text editing I need to do. I am no programmer so no need for any of that. Mostly I will edit a configuration file here and there and maybe work on a document or such. I guess it all comes down to choice and being able to express that choice. You like nano. I like vi. Linux gives us that choice and all with the freedom to change our minds. The real value in Open Source is not in the cost, but in the freedom given us.

oneandoneis2 10-04-2007 01:17 AM

vi is a real trial until you've learned how to use it.

Once you get past that learning curve, tho, it's not only blissfully easy to use, it's enormously powerful and makes it supremely easy to carry out all manner of tasks.

Think of "Why vi instead of nano?" as being like asking "Why would anybody want to use a computer when a piece of paper is so easy to use?" and you might get the idea ;)

timmit 10-04-2007 01:20 AM

My experience as a new user of Linux is that vi is way too confusing, so for right now I just use nano because it gets the job done :-).

Wim Sturkenboom 10-04-2007 02:57 AM

I use mostly vi(m) as I grew up with it (still don't consider myself a specialist). Things I like are:
multiple file editing
search and replace with regular expressions
exactly define where to search and replace (e.g. only between line 3 and 8)
flexible navigation through file

Not really familiar with nano, so these things might be available there as well.

jschiwal 10-04-2007 03:38 AM

I've never used nano. Does it have spell checking and source code format highlighting and allow regular expression search and replace?

Su-Shee 10-04-2007 03:43 AM

I _love_ vi(m). I do everything with it.

After understanding the concept, it's extremely powerful and efficient to use, especially if you're a typing person. (And who isn't in times of Internet chat/mail/forums/programming... ?)

I'm so used to it, that I sometimes instinctivly press ESC:wq here in the textarea of the forum....

I can't even understand how someone would NOT use a powerful editor.

RHLinuxGUY 10-04-2007 04:40 AM

It's actually very useful to learn, for if your if for whatever reason you are left without a graphical user interface (It doesn't always have to be a bad situation where you are left without a GUI) vim will come in handy. Since vi/vim is a very common *nix text editor, if you ever want to get serious in that area, vi/vim is what you need to learn.

b0uncer 10-04-2007 05:01 AM

nano/pico/alike editors for simple&quick text-editing, like changing some config values in a configuration's just so simple and fast. And vi(m) for programming in command-line environment (also in X, if needed), because of it's abilities. Not that other programs couldn't do the same things vi does (like Emacs), but I've become familiar with it, and since it's found on every UNIX-like machine I use, why not? It would be annoying to use some other editor and then find out the other machine doesn't have that, use some other editor on it, and again some other editor on the next machine because it doesn't have either of those... So, it's everywhere, it's nice, why not? :)

syg00 10-04-2007 05:02 AM

Go search on user "dive" here at LQ.
Have a look at the sigline - gotta love it ...

b0uncer 10-04-2007 05:06 AM


Originally Posted by syg00
Go search on user "dive" here at LQ.
Have a look at the sigline - gotta love it ...

You're right..but that's how life is.

jschiwal 10-04-2007 06:26 AM

You could install gvim. It operates in a terminal but has a graphical menu. If you use sudo, you need to use "visudo" to configure it. So knowing the most basic fundamentals of 'vim' is a must. Also, the rescue environment probably has 'vim-minimal' as the editor.

choogendyk 10-04-2007 06:28 AM

I've always been impressed by this signature of a guy on a list I'm on:


* I think I've got the hang of it now:  exit, ^D, ^C, ^\, ^Z, ^Q, ^^, *
* F6, quit, ZZ, :q, :q!, M-Z, ^X^C, logoff, logout, close, bye, /bye, *
* stop, end, F3, ~., ^]c, +++ ATH, disconnect, halt,  abort,  hangup, *
* PF4, F20, ^X^X, :D::D, KJOB, F14-f-e, F8-e,  kill -1 $$,  shutdown, *
* init 0, kill -9 1, Alt-F4, Ctrl-Alt-Del, AltGr-NumLock, Stop-A, ... *
* ...  "Are you sure?"  ...  YES  ...  Phew ...  I'm out          *

Anyway, "Why vi?"

In part because you can always count on it being there (vi, not vim). You have a down system. It won't boot. You finally get it in a state where you can fsck, mount a partition, and fix some boot configuration or something. vi. It's there. ssh over to some oddball unix system to help someone else out. vi. It's there.

I also have `set -o vi` in my ksh environment. So, the same keystrokes work for my command history.

I remember 15 or 20 years ago playing some version of asteroids that worked on my computer. Same keystrokes to navigate my ship. Maybe that's why vi felt right. ;-)

Anyway, once you have the keystrokes in the microcode of your fingertips, you don't have to think about it anymore. It just works.

Su-Shee 10-04-2007 06:42 AM

vi is based on the principle of "hjkl" - which lies under one hand and is easily reached.

And "j" and "f" are the typing baselines - some keyboards (like my thinkpad) have still a very small marker on them.

So, if laying hands on the keyboard in typing position, vi suddenly makes sense, because the right forefinger is exactly in the j...

And yes, I also did pull the modem plug when I started with vi, because I didn't know how to quit those damn thing and neither x, q, ctrl-x, ctrl-q or anything else I tried, worked and I didn't got this : thing a t first.

And set -o vi saved my life more than one time when I sat in front of a totally unknown Unix and never having seen a ksh before..

Dox Systems - Brian 10-04-2007 07:44 AM

nano hadn't been written when I started doing this, so I learned vi... Once you know vi, there's no need to switch. If you're starting out fresh, then perhaps it's not the best choice since nano would be easier to learn. :)

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