Emergency vi (vi tutorial)

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This page is a basic tutorial for vi or vim.

vi is one of unix's fsckup. Sometimes in a emergency situation you are forced to deal with vi, and fscking unix admins refuse to install emacs. Here's your help.

vi man
vi man

To insert text, move your cursor to the right place, then press i, then type your text. After you are done, type Esc to exit the insertion mode.

To delete text, move cursor to the right place and press x. (if x is inserted, that means you forgot to exit the insert mode. Type Esc to exit insertion mode. Type u to undo.)

When something doesn't work, or if you accidentally typed something and have no idea what is going on, try press Esc, then type u for undo. If a cat jumped onto your keyboard and you cannot exit vi, type the shell suspend command 【Ctrl+z】, which should get you back on the unix command prompt, then you can kill. (by first find out the pid by ps auwwx | grep vi, then kill -9 pid).

Congratulation! You've learned emergency vi.

It may be confusing, but with the above you can edit any text files with vi.

Installing vim

By default, the vi in Ubuntu 12.04 (as of ) is “vim.tiny”, a very basic vi-like vim. You should install full vim. For how to install and other detail, see: Ubuntu Linux: vim Location and Versions.

Basic vi Commands

Remember, in vi, it has modes. At any one time, you are either in command mode or text insertion mode. To go to the command mode, just press Esc. To go into editing mode, press i.

Goto Insertion Mode

KeyMeaning
【i】insert
【a】insert after cursor (append)
【o】insert a new line

Undo & Redo

KeyMeaning
【u】undo
Ctrl+rredo

Cursor Movement

KeyMeaning
【j】down
【k】up
【h】left
【l】right
【w】next word
【b】prev word
【0】beginning of line
【$】end of line
【:8】line 8
【:$】end of file
Ctrl+fpage down
Ctrl+bpage up

Deleting Text

KeyMeaning
【x】delete char
【8x】delete 8 chars
【dw】delete word
【8dw】delete 8 words
【D】delete from cursor to end of line
【dd】delete current line

Copy & Paste

KeyMeaning
【yy】copy current line
【3yy】copy 3 lines
【p】paste

Note that when you delete a word or many words, the word is automatically put into the clipboard.

Search

KeyMeaning
【/aa】search forward for text “aa”
【n】next occurrence
【N】previous occurrence
【*】find next occurrence of current word

Find & Replace

KeyMeaning
【:s/aa/bb/g】search & replace ALL “aa” by “bb” in CURRENT LINE. “g” (global) means do it for all occurrences.
【:%s/aa/bb/gc】search & replace ALL “aa” by “bb” in whole file. “c” means ask for confirmation before each replacement.
【:20,30s/aa/bb/gc】search & replace “aa” by “bb” in line 20 to 30.

Comment/Uncomment Block

press 【Ctrl+v】 (called “visual block”), move cursor to select, then press 【I # Esc】 to insert # to all lines in the block.

To uncomment a block, do the same except just press 【x】 to kill a char.

Syntax Coloring

KeyMeaning
【:set syn=lang】the “lang” can be perl, c, cpp, html, php, JavaScript, python etc.
【:syntax on】Turn on syntax coloring
【:syntax off】Turn off syntax coloring

Line Numbers

KeyMeaning
【:set number】Turn on line numbers
【:set nonumber】Turn off line numbers

Advanced Topics

【gg】beginning of file
【G】end of file
【dG】delete from current line to end of file

Opening File

【:tabe pathopening file
【gf】open path under cursor
vi clippy assistant
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