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As far as I know vi is more commonly found on out-of-the-box unix systems while vim often has to be installed. Also vim stands for vi improved, but improved how?

What are the main differences?

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Be aware that in many systems, "vi" is just a symbolic link to "vim". – JoelFan Jan 31 '12 at 15:15
And what happens where is not? For example, in my Fedora 20, i have /usr/bin/vi and /usr/bin/vim, none is a symbolic link, but when i run vim i have this: "VIM - VI Mejorado versión 7.4.475" When i run vi: "VIM - Vi IMproved version 7.4.475" Seem like a link, but vi don't read the .vimrc, i tried creating a .virc, it doesn't work. – X3MBoy Oct 30 '14 at 2:38
Check your aliases Type 'alias' and run that, Do you see vi=vim If that is the case, this may be why. – Michael Bruce Mar 23 '15 at 18:21
up vote 28 down vote accepted

Vim tries to resemble the syntax and semantic of Vi command as much as possible. But being an "improved version", Vim adds new commands and features. It also changes the semantic of some Vi commands to better match the current expectations of its programmers.

A detailed list of changes between vim and Vi can be found using the command :help compatible in Vim.

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Vim is an advanced text editor that seeks to provide the power of the de-facto Unix editor 'Vi', with a more complete feature set. It's useful whether you're already using vi or using a different editor.

Source: http://vim.sourceforge.net/about.php

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