Learning to love vim

It’s a slow and sometimes frustrating relationship, but slowly I’m learning to use and respect vim. Like a lot of people who were introduced to Linux through Ubuntu, I started out with nano. And while nano isn’t what I would call the “perfect” editor, it’s fairly obvious how it works, how to make changes to files, and how to get back out of it. That, I could appreciate at a time when I was more interested in getting my video card working than stumble-bumping through obscure keystrokes just to save a file.

And so originally vim was the editor I hated, because it seemed to be the complete opposite — unintuitive, cumbersome, cryptic, obtuse and arranged in such a way as to be difficult to learn.

And a lot of times it still is. I regularly wish for some sort of feature X, only to learn that feature X already exists — I had just been looking for it in the wrong place. Tabs are a good example of that. I was hoping to find a way to open multiple documents, started poking around with viewports and finally, a few hours later, realized that tabs were there and waiting … I just hadn’t taken the next step and actually found them.

I do that a lot though, and with simpler and more intuitive programs than vim, so I don’t hold that against it. It’s a flaw in my character — a tendency toward bumping around in the wrong places, looking for the wrong thing. I’ve learned to live with it. Perhaps one day I will also learn to love vim.

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9 Responses to “Learning to love vim”


  1. 1 JoshMiller 2009/09/28 at 1:00 AM

    I always use Pico.

    Also there is a lot to say for plain basic text editing. When I use Windows I use Notepad a lot. I find Microsoft’s slight push to replace Notepad with Wordpad irritating. If I wanted the features of Wordpad I’d use WORD.

    Also i find that half the time I save in Wordpad when I open it in something else I get those silly little boxy characters all over because it saves everything in some doofy Wordpad version of common file formats.

  2. 2 stephen 2009/09/28 at 12:25 PM

    Yeah, vim isn’t notepad. vim is super powerful. Kmandla, don’t use it too much, or you’ll never be able to use anything else again.

    I’ve been an avid ViM user for over 1.5 years (started with it aboutu 6 months into my linux adventure) and haven’t looked back. Been toying with the idea of flirting with the emacs (two friends at work are fanatics), but I can’t use Netbeans or Eclipse without a Vi plugin.

    Anyhow, I’d definitely keep searching and digging. ViM is just so darn awesome at making codes, and making them quickly.

  3. 3 wolfvorkian 2009/09/28 at 3:36 PM

    Mandla-

    In some ways, I put Vim in the same category as Mutt. I finally figured out how to get Mutt working and used it for maybe 6 months as my email client until one I was reading a post where a guy said he had used Mutt for several years and one day it dawned on him that the biggest advantage Mutt had over other email clients was its complexity and other than that, it really didn’t have that many redeeming features..complexity for the sake of complexity.. so he quit using it and went to a more conventional GUI client. I quit using Mutt the day I read the post I mentioned and for the same reason he did.

    And Vim has to be the same for most of us. Not for the real computer coder, the professional out there in the rat race but for most of us enthusiasts, it is over kill but it *is* fun to learn how to use it some. I can get around in Vim now and do enjoy learning a little bit about it… but I’m a leafpad man or nano guy for the most part. I knew I was in trouble the first time I opened vimtutor up and the instructions suggested you should be able to get through it in 20 minutes. For me, I suspect it was more like 2 hours.

    Question connected to your latest interest, no X – framebuffers. Can you get mplayer to play a video inside of screen? Mplayer works fine if I’m not using screen but doesn’t within it for me.

    • 4 K.Mandla 2009/09/29 at 7:53 AM

      Yup. Most of the screenshots on the right are running with screen-vs and mplayer inside it. Do you get any error messages if you try to run mplayer from within screen?

  4. 5 opticvoid 2009/09/29 at 12:39 AM

    Personally I am more of a fan of Nvi, which is included with OpenBSD and NetBSD, but I think that everyone can agree that Vim is a wonderful piece of software.

  5. 6 JakeT 2009/10/01 at 6:07 AM

    I use VIM all the time at work (on Windows), mostly b/c unlike Word, the search and replace is killer and for the most part reliable.

    Once you get use to moving around, it IS hard to go back.

    That said, I have some pretty major quibbles, namely how it deals with text selection and end of lines (and worst, the combination thereof).

    Still, I’m glad I put the effort into learning it, even if I’m not a hard-core coder.

  6. 7 wolfvorkian 2009/10/03 at 2:50 AM

    K.Mandla -

    I assume your response to my post concerning mplayer erroring out while running in screen was an offer of help. :-) If so, I’ve pasted the error messages to http://pastebin.com/m5217a647

    Also whether important or not I don’t know but my graphics card is one that my kid threw away years ago, a NV18 [GeForce4 MX 4000] (rev c1) & the line I added to the kernel is – kernel /vmlinuz26 root=/dev/sda3 ro vga=773 in /boot/grub/menu.lst.

    Even if you snub me, at least I learned how to copy and paste in screen, which I didn’t know how to do until after I posted asking whether this framebuffer thingie worked in screen or not for video so all is not lost. ;-)

    • 8 K.Mandla 2009/10/03 at 8:24 AM

      It looks like mplayer is trying to connect to the X environment, but if I recall correctly, you want it to run against the framebuffer. Try …

      mplayer -vo fbdev gonewiththewind.avi

      If that doesn’t work, I think there’s a second framebuffer option, but I forget what the command is. Check mplayer -vo --help (or something like that) and see what the option is.

      Don’t check mplayer’s man page; it’s gigantic. It takes days to find your way through that thing. … :shock:

      P.S.: I would never snub you, wolfvorkian. … :D

  7. 9 jfdksjfksa 2010/01/11 at 4:27 PM

    You should come over to #vim on freenode. If you have a vim-related question or problem, and if it can be solved they will help you solve it.

    It would have probably taken them less than a minute to point you towards tabs, for instance, if that’s where the solution to your problem lay (you can use windows too, by the way, not just tabs).


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