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vi book rev’d

Aug 1, 2008 — by LinuxDevices Staff — from the LinuxDevices Archive — 5 views

O'Reilly has brought out its (count 'em!) seventh edition of “Learning the vi and Vim Editors.” First published in 1986, this classic teaches basic and advanced features of the world's most popular text editor, a tool every system administrator and Linux user really ought to know.

(Click for larger view of the book's cover, on which a tarsier (nocturnal lemur) is depicted

Versions of vi are built into nearly every Linux system in existence, including lots of embedded systems based on busybox. As a result, learning vi is a time-honored first step to learning Linux itself, especially for system administrators (programmers may favor the less mode-based Emacs editor, a much larger and more full-featured editor).

Learning vi takes a bit of effort, due to its separate command and editing “modes,” so having a combined tutorial and reference guide such as this may help. Another option might be to install the full runtime version of vim (most Linux distros today seem to come with “vim-tiny”) and then invoke the built-in tutorial, by typing “vimtutor.”

(Click to enlarge)

Noting that vi is even gaining popularity on Windows, while Vim is built into Mac OS X, O'Reilly says its guide also discusses nvi, elvis, and vile, three popular vi clones. Touted book features include:

  • Multi-window editing
  • Interactive macros and scripts
  • Power tools for programmers
  • Moving around
  • Buffers and other advanced features
  • Global search and replace
  • Customizing vi
  • Executing shell commands
  • Extended text objects
  • Regex
  • gVim (GUI Vim) features
  • Syntax highlighting
  • Folding and extended tags

Additionally, there's an alphabetical quick reference to both vi and ex mode commands, O'Reilly says.

The book was written by:

  • Elbert Hannah, described as a professional software engineer and software architect recently retired from the telecom industry
  • Linda Lamb, an O'Reilly Media editor
  • Arnold Robbins, a programmer and technical book author


The 492-page book “Learning the vi and Vim Editors” is available now. It costs $35 direct from Amazon.


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