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vi - do I need to learn it?

Posted on 2000-03-19
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Last Modified: 2013-12-06
I am running a UNIX server to run a manager of a network security software. I wonder if I need to learn vi ... as such I dont use it much right now.
I started learning it...and using it is so very cumbersome. IS there any other easier and more user-friendly text editor? why is vi used anyway, when it is so un-user-friendly? if its widely used then I do  need to learn it, right?

please help
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Question by:java_lover
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jlevie earned 30 total points
ID: 2634801
Well, no you don't have to use it. There are lots of alternatives, which ones depend on what Unix you are on. However, vi remains popular because it requires very little resources and in the case of needing to edit a file in single user mode it may be the only editor that works. I don't routinely use vi, preferring xemacs instead, but there are plenty of times that I use vi for a quick, simple edit of a small file. For a really simple edit, I can almost have it done before xemacs is fully up and ready to use. Knowing how to use the basic vi functions is a good thing.
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by:chansek
ID: 2634894
Hello

   If it is possible, learn VI editor. The only reason for that is all UNIX boxes like HP-UX, SUN, AIX, SCO or etc. They all have VI editor. You learn VI editor, then you could apply it anywhere. Also, you could fully manipulate the VI tools (utilities like to call file name, recall/check historical commands and etc.) in shell environment especially KORN shell.
OR
  EMACS editor is another tool for you. But, no all UNIX boxes has EMACS editor.
  Good luck.
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by:java_lover
ID: 2638509
I wonder why its so different and hence tedious to learn. Has there been any effort in maintaining its simplicity but still make it more user-friendly?
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by:jlevie
ID: 2638542
The reason is mostly historical in nature. You have to understand that vi came about in the days when terminals were very primitive compared to what we have today. An editor was needed that could work on anything and in those days (and to some degree even today) everybody that made a terminal had their own idea of how it would work and what you could do with it. If you want to get some idea of the number of terminals, take a look through a termcap file sometime. Accordingly was structured to require only the minimum capabilities from a terminal.

Even as arcane as it looks like vi is, it was, at the time, a major improvement over what it replaced. Prior to vi, one used ed, which is a line editor. Take a look at the man page for ed and try it sometime. I think you'll find that vi is a vast improvement.
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