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:
- 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!)
- enters INSERT mode, text typed will be placed at the cursor; press ESC to exit INSERT mode
- inserts a blank line after current line, enters INSERT mode; press ESC to exit INSERT mode
- jumps to the end of the current line to APPEND text to the line; press ESC to exit APPEND mode
- deletes the character at the cursor
- replaces the character at the cursor with p
- deletes the entire line that the cursor is on
- search for the next occurrence of something
- save changes and exit
NOTE: As with everything in UNIX, the commands are case sensitive.