I started a new internship where all the servers run on AIX. Logging in for the first time I was suprised to see that my favorite text editor nano was not installed.

Everyone here uses vi not vim......just vi.

I've tried learning it before and I can do basic text manipulation but I just can't help but wonder.......

Is it worth the time and effort to become proficient in this environment when there are other more modern options that exist?

Why should i write and edit scripts in the terminal rather than booting up a newer and "fancier" IDE with more modern features like auto-completion and syntax highlighting?


I want to thank all of you for your input and help. I don't think the labor will be in vain.

closed as not constructive by Michael Mrozek Jun 22 '12 at 13:57

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    Some systems have pico installed instead of nano, can't remember which was first, but they are clones, sorta. – Tim Jun 22 '12 at 13:34
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    @tim I'm fairly certain pico was created for and included in pine (the mail program), and nano was created as a gnu clone of it. – Kevin Jun 22 '12 at 14:52
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    <joke>Make sure you learn /bin/ed for the next time you need to rescue your fstab and /usr/bin won't mount because it's on a separate partition</joke>. Also, few graphical IDE's come close to offering the feature set of vim or emacs, and I can usually go off for a coffee break while waiting for the fancy IDE's to start. – jw013 Jun 22 '12 at 15:24
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    @Tim, pico is PIne COmposer, the editor that came bundled with the pine mail reader. It became quite popular, but pine's restrictive licence made it a bother. nano is a pico clone. – vonbrand Jan 24 '13 at 23:00

I believe the whole idea about editors is kinda warped.

I won't claim, that only I know what editor to use when. But we are forced to use editors that we aren't particularly fond of, usually.

When using IDE's, we're all forced to use the editor that comes with it. Even though those editors can be tailored a bit, it's not that we can plug-in vim as IDE editor.

OK, so it's not like we can use one editor, so does it make sense getting used to vi-likes?

I'd say yes, but don't make the error of learning as much commands as possible. If you don't need more than one buffer, or split windows in vim, don't bother. Just learn what you need!

I use Vim and gVim for larger portions of text, like source codes that are not edited in an IDE, or where I don't have one, for instance for LaTeX.

But when I just want to do a quick edit of some file, and I'm using Gnome, I just edit it with the editor that is the quickest to access, most usually Gedit.

What I mean, is: Yes, get used to it, but don't necessarily buy a book or something. Just so you know your way around when there's nothing else that you can use. And when you do like it, learn some more, and you might switch over to gVim and stuff. Then, buying the book might be a good idea!


Even though they type vi or call it vi it may still be vim. And at least vim can do all the "modern" features like auto-completion and syntax-highlighting, too.

It can also mark/copy/paste text using the mouse if you wish. I however prefer vim and the console because I can do 100% of the work without ever taking one hand off the keyboard. Try that with a fancy IDE.

  • that's true but in some SO vi is only vi, you have to install vim to have the features in vi.. like OpenSuSe zypper install vim and Ubuntu sudo apt-get install vim – maniat1k Jun 22 '12 at 13:48
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    vi is pretty much what you will find in any UNIX system; even if you don't use it, knowing how to use its basics can save you in an emergency where you can't use anything more sophisticated. – Renan Jun 22 '12 at 14:38
  • OK, it's like this: The original vi is only used on UNIX systems, when the license fees are paid. Which of course doesn't happen on Linux-es. There is a plethora of vi clones out there. Vim or gVim is just the better known vi clone. The probably second best know clone would be nvi, which is used on *BSD. nvi is one of the more simple vi's out there. – polemon Jun 23 '12 at 14:10

Yes I think it's worth it.

For instance what if you were creating/editing a bash script? Or peeking inside a text file and making a single-character change, an IDE might not be suitable or be overkill for such simple tasks. vi/vim will fire up almost instantaneously.

Also, when accessing a system remotely having a text based editor available is useful.

vi is pretty standard on Unix type systems and can be counted to be available. IDEs etc may vary from system to system.

This doesn't mean that IDEs shouldn't be used, just that there are many times when an IDE would not be the first choice for some of the smaller quick tasks.

You might also be surprised what some of your "basic" editors can do. I use emacs daily (both under Linux and Windows) for my programming and eclipse sometimes too. Each tool has its use.


Honestly, it should take no more than a few hours to have basic vi knowledge. Due to its everywhere nature, it shall save you much more (hours) eventually.

Regarding IDE — well, some consider vim/emacs to be one of. ;-)

vi is just KISS follower. Simple and powerful enough for most sysadmin's task regarding text files. Although, as to me, honestly, I do prefer vim. :-)

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