Using vi to Edit Text Files#

Even the simplest administration tasks can be very difficult for technicians without UNIX experience. The reason? Editing a text file can be frustrating and time consuming if one has not yet been familiarized with an available text editor. One of the most commonly used and available: vi. vi is elegantly simple, but brutally non-intuitive.

As daunting as it may seem, there are just 10 key combination to remember when editing text files on a server via SSH. Of course there are more for advanced functions... but you really only need these:

(colon)q!
unconditionally quit (like when you really mess up and want to start over)
Arrow keys
moves the cursor up, down, left, right (make sure you are not in INSERT mode!)
i
enters INSERT mode, text typed will be placed at the cursor; press ESC to exit INSERT mode
o
inserts a blank line after current line, enters INSERT mode; press ESC to exit INSERT mode
A
jumps to the end of the current line to APPEND text to the line; press ESC to exit APPEND mode
x
deletes the character at the cursor
rp
replaces the character at the cursor with p
dd
deletes the entire line that the cursor is on
(colon)/something
search for the next occurrence of something
ZZ
save changes and exit

NOTE: As with everything in UNIX, the commands are case sensitive.

VI Quick Help#

VI Quick Advanced Help#

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« This page (revision-5) was last changed on 26-Jul-2009 10:31 by jim