Linux for DBA: Basic “vi” Editor Tutorial

 

UNIX/Linux “vi” is a very powerful text editor, unfortunately at the beginning the utilization can be difficult. To help our memory, I wrote this post.

This is NOT an exhaustive guide, but a concentrate of the most useful commands and options.

 

vi Operation Modes:

Command mode: allows to execute administrative tasks (run command, move cursor, serch/replace string, save, etc.). This is the default mode when started.
When Insert mode is active press ESC to revert to Command mode.

Insert mode:  enables to write into the file. To switch to Insert mode you simply type i.

 

To open a file in edit mode:

# vi filename

 

Basic Moving commands

Enable Command mode (pressing ESC twice)
j  -- Cursor down one line
k  -- Cursor up one line
h  -- Cursor left one line
l  -- Cursor right one line
Multiple lines/columns move ex.: 5h -- Cursor 5 move left

$   -- Cursor at the end of the line.
0   -- Cursor at the beginning of the line. Same than |
b   -- Cursor at the next word.
w   -- Cursor at the next word.
G   -- Cursor at the end of the file.
1G  -- Cursor at the beginning of the line.
:,4 -- Cursor at the 4th line.

 

Basic Editing commands

Enable Insert mode (pressing i)

a  -- Insert text after the cursor location. 
A  -- Insert text at the end of the line. 
i  -- Insert text before the cursor location. 
I  -- Insert text at the beginning of the line. 
o  -- Insert a new line below the cursor location. 
O  -- Insert a new line above the cursor location.
dd -- Delete the current line.
x  -- Delete the character under the cursor location.
cw -- Change the word under the cursor location.
r  -- Replace the character under the cursor location.
R  -- Replace multiple characters starting from the cursor location. ESC to stop the replacement.
yy -- Copy the current line.
yw -- Copy the current word.
p  -- Paste the copied text before the current cursor location
P  -- Paste the copied text after the current cursor location

 

Basic Search and  Replace options

Enable Command mode (pressing ESC twice)

:set ic -- Ingnore case when searching.
:set nu -- Disply line number on the left side.
:%s/<search_string>/<replacement_string>/g -- Global search and replace

 

Exiting from vi

:q  -- Exit without Saving
:q! -- Force Exit without Saving
:w  -- Save the file
:wq -- Save & Exit

 

 

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