An Introduction to Vim for SysAdmins

An Introduction to Vim for SysAdmins

by Carla Schroder

Why, you ask, should anyone care about Vim? It’s complex, it’s so old it’s a fossil, and you like Kate/Leafpad/Geany/Gedit/Nano/Jed/Lime/Emacs/what-have-you, and the Linux world is cram-full of great text editors, so why bother with Vim?

The main reason is it is included in nearly all Linux distributions. Sure, it is rather a desert island scenario to worry about being trapped on an unfamiliar system and you only have Vim to rescue yourself. It does happen. You will especially appreciate it when you have to work over a slow SSH session with high latency because Vim is chock-a-block with powerful single-key commands.

The other reason is it is a customizable powerhouse that rewards a bit of study and tweaking with a nice productivity boost. For example, if you have to tag XML or HTML documents Vim can enter both opening and closing tags with a single keystroke. Or enter blocks of text, such as copyright notices or URLs, with a single keystroke. Vim is so flexible you can make it do just about anything with a minimum number of keystrokes.