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Vim (Vi improved) is a text editor based on vi. It can be used from the command line or as a standalone application with graphical user interface.


Application installation

To install Vim with both the ncurses-based interface (/usr/bin/vim)) and the graphical interface (for the X Window System - /usr/bin/gvim), install app-editors/gvim:

root #emerge --ask app-editors/gvim

There is also an experimental Qt interface called app-editors/vim-qt.

If the X Window System support is not needed, just install app-editors/vim:

root #emerge --ask app-editors/vim


The category app-vim provides a lot of additional syntax definitions, plugins and other Vim related stuff.

Use emerge or eix to get an overview of available packages in the app-vim category:

user $emerge --search "%@^app-vim"
user $eix -cC app-vim

Using Vim

Getting started

Vim has a built-in tutorial which should require around 30 min to go through. Start it using the vimtutor command:

user $vimtutor

Tips and Tricks

Using Vim like ex or ed from the command line

It is possible to use Vim for one-liners — commands that can be used in scripts or on the command line to make changes in an unattended manner.

For instance, the following command adds # to the beginning of each line in the file.txt file:

user $vim -c ":%s/^/#/g" -c ":x" file.txt

What happens is that Vim interprets the passed on commands (through the -c option). The first command is Vim's substitution command (which is very similar to sed's), the second one is Vim's instruction to save and exit the editor.

Change file encoding

To change the file encoding of a file to UTF-8, use the following command (in Vim command mode):

:e ++enc=utf8

As shown in the previous trick, it is possible to do this from the command line as well:

user $vim -c ":wq! ++enc=utf8" file.txt

See also

External resources