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"The Vi Lovers Home Page ... this makes a great starting point."
(Learning the vi Editor, 6th Edition, O'Reilly, page 300)


The author
Should I use Vi?
Vi versions
Vi pages/manuals/tutorials
Vi FTP sites
Vi macros


Vi (pronounce: "vee eye", not "six", not "vye") is an editor. An editor is a program to edit files. Goodbye.

Although other stories exist, the true one tells that Vi was originally written by Bill Joy in 1976. Bill took the sources of ed and ex, two horrendous programs for Unix that try to enable a human being to edit files, and created Vi. A truly remarkable, and somewhat paradoxical, event. Read the interview with Bill Joy for a more accurate history of Vi.

People got attached to Vi, and eventually it got included in System V. From there on history has covered its traces and now Vi has evolved in many different versions for many, many platforms. The basic concept of Vi, however, has not changed over the years.

The Vi Lovers Home Page has links to the latest version of different Vi implementations. In addition, there are links to useful documentation, FAQs, and other (better) Vi related resources. This is the best place to be for every Vi user or Vi user wannabe.

The author (of this page)

My name is Thomer M. Gil []. I am a Ph.D. student in Computer Science hanging out at CSAIL, the Laboratory for Computer Science) at MIT. I started using Vi in 1994 when I was forced to do so by someone else. I have a home page, I do research, I sometimes write software for fun, and I enjoy going on long cycling trips. The morbidly interested can look at photos of me, using a free, online photo album site I created.

I use Vim because I simply don't know of a better editor, but, admittedly, I haven't seriously tried anything else.

Should I use Vi?

Which editor to use is mainly a matter of taste, style, and needs. Big chance that Vi is OK for---at least---the last one.

The long story is that, even though Vi is somewhat awkward to use at first, it enables fast, simple, and effective editing once you get the hang of it. (See also "Why, oh WHY, do those #?@! nutheads use vi?".) A key concept in Vi is combining a certain action (delete, copy to buffer, capitalize, etc.) with a movement (go to line 25, go to end of document, go to next occurrence of "foo," go to 2nd occurrence of character "x" in this line, etc.). The action is performed on all lines or characters between the current cursor position and the destination cursor position. Vi is extremely powerful in moving around within (or between) files---Vim in particular is excellent. You can jump to a specific line, to the line where you were before jumping to the current line, to the line in the middle of the screen, to the line where you just changed "foo" into "bar," etc. You'll never have to mess with arrow keys to move around within a file. Finally, I observe that an effective Vi user simply edits files faster than Emacs people. Last but not least, you don't need a third hand (or nose) to type impossible key combinations. Don't get me wrong: Emacs is a great operating system---it lacks a good editor, though.

Vi has its dark sides, too. The biggest one is the need to step back before leaping forward when you are new to Vi. You cannot use Vi properly before knowing at least a handful of commands. This makes the threshold rather high. Vi doesn't get fast before you know 25 commands or so, and you won't be the cool dude(tte) before you know even more. Note that this is also true for Emacs. However, Emacs is much easier to use as a newbie.

Rather confusing to new users is the empty screen that stares at them when Vi starts and not being able to simply start typing.

There is no conclusion. If you are a Windows user and you are forced to work under Unix for a week: don't learn Vi. However, if you need a good, multi-purpose editor, then Vi is a very good, highly recommended choice. Invest some time and learn Vi. There are many good links on this page to get you started.

Let me finish this discussion by a quote from my dear officemate, Chris: "less is my favorite editor. Too bad it can't actually edit files."

Vi versions

Look at the filename to get some idea about the version...

If you get rubble on your screen after clicking on a filename in this table, stop the transfer, click the filename again with the right mouse-button, and click "Save Link As."

Unix, MS-DOS, Windows, and OS/2

This overview is not frequently updated! You should check for newer versions.

  Unix and/or source MS-DOS Windows 3.x Windows 9x/2k/NT/XP OS/2
VIM1 vim-6.3.tar.bz2 Use MS-DOS
Elvis2 elvis-2.2_0.tar.gz elvis-2.2_0-msdos.tar.gz Not available elvis-2.2_0-win32.tar.gz elvis-2.2_0-os2.tar.gz
VILE vile-tar.gz Not available
Lemmy Not available Not available Not available lemmy45.exe Not available
Nvi nvi-1.79.tar.gz Not available Not available Not available Not available
Stevie stevie69s.zip3 Not available Not available
WinVi Not available Not available
xvi xvi2.47.tgz Not available Not available
Pvic Not available Not available Not available Not available
Calvin Not available Not available Not available Not available
Bvi bvi-1.3.2.src.tar.gz Not available Not available Not available Not available
ex-vi ex-040605.tar.gz Not available Not available Not available Not available
levee levee-current.tar.gz Not available Not available Not available Not available
BusyBox's vi busybox-1.00.tar.gz Not available Not available Not available Not available

Macintosh, Atari, Amiga and OpenVMS

  Macintosh Atari Amiga OpenVMS/Alpha OpenVMS/VAX
VIM vim5.6.full.fat.sit vim56bin.tgz
VILE Not available Not available Not available vile-9.2 vile-9.2
Stevie stevie3.69+.sit.hqx stevie.lzh4 Stevie.lha Not available Not available

Some important (foot)notes

  There are a number of different VIM mirror sites. Please visit the VIM Mirrors page to find a mirror site near you.
1 You should read VIM Installation Help.
2 For Elvis for MS-DOS you might need untardos.exe to untar the thing. If you download Elvis for Windows 95/NT you might need untarw32.exe to untar it.
3 Stevie is version 3.69b.
4 Version unknown. Another, unknown, Vi for Atari is available.

Vi pages/manuals/tutorials

(Ordered on decreasing quality and/or applicability)

Vi pages in the Google directory
Vi according to Google.

An Introduction to Display Editing with Vi
Written by Bill Joy, creator of Vi. I personally think this is the best place to start if you are new to Vi. It takes you by the hand.

VIM help
This is the HTML-ized documentation included in the latest VIM release.

Mastering the Vi editor
This is something between a tutorial and a reference manual. If you're new to Vi, this is a fine starting point.

Efficient Editing With vim
Focuses on Vim rather than Vi, but this is a great, very terse and simple intro.

Vi Editor
A fine introduction and reference manual. Good lay-out.

Vi helpfile
A terse overview of basic commands with a little explanation on each of them. It is not a tutorial, but rather a reference manual. I think it is close to being complete.

Vi macros
This page focuses on macros in Vi. It is not meant for beginners, but rather for those that want to master the art of writing complex macros.

Vi Reference Card
A card with basic Vi command in TeX, DVI and PostScript format.

Vim Reference Card
A reference card with Vim command in DVI and PDF format.

Graphical vi-vim Cheat Sheet and Tutorial
A cheat sheet keyboard overlay.

Unix 101: vi Editor
Introduces the basics in a pretty comprehensible way.

Vi Documents
A very basic introduction. Good if you're new. Also contains an incomplete, but clear reference manual.

Using Vi, the Unix Visual Editor
Good to start with. Contains many examples. Not complete, though.

First Steps: Vi
A step-by-step tutorial. Not bad for a first start.

Vi basics
A very short introduction that doesn't really help you a great deal.

The Vi Editor
A very basic one-page introduction.

An Extremely Quick and Simple Introduction to the Vi Text Editor
If you're in a rush...

Vi for Smarties
A dumb, step by step tutorial insulting your intelligence.

Online Vi quick reference
That's what it is.

Vi Tutorial
A very slow start. Contains some highly confusing pictures.

A beginner's guide to Vi
This is not at all a beginner's guide. It is very incomplete and too terse for beginners.

Introduction to Vi
A lot of hot air. No content. Stupid.

Advanced Vi
Continuation of previous one. Advanced stupidity. Stay away from this one.


Basic Vi FAQ
I bet it will answer a lot of questions if you're new to it.

Advanced Vi FAQ
Continuation of previous one, but doesn't really concern Vi itself, but rather Vi-related things.

Vi Editor FAQ
Except for annoying frames, it's OK.

On itself quite OK, but it hasn't been updated in a long time.

Vi FTP sites
A bunch of Vi macros, docs, etc. It hasn't been updated for a long time, but that doesn't really hurt the quality. Face it, Vi is timeless.
A set of Vi macros.

Vi macros

Vi macros for writing HTML
Some macros that do some nice tricks that might come to hand when writing HTML.

Towers of Hanoi
A classic example of how people waste their time. This macro solves the Towers of Hanoi puzzle.

Turing Machine
Need I say more? Take a look!
More macros.

Vi... Other

The Cult of Vi
Unabashed advocacy.

Interview with the VIMpire
An interview with Bram Moolenaar, creator of VIM.

Vi merchandise
Vi reference mugs, Vi reference mouse-pads and Vi t-shirts! I have the mugs, and I must say... tea gets a whole new dimension from these mugs.

Editor newsgroup. Discussion around Vi, VIM and other editors. A lot of questions, answers and nonsense.

Addicted To Vi
A song to the tune of "Addicted to Love".

Does Tim O'Reilly use Emacs or Vi?
He explains it himself.

The true story behind Vi
The story of Vince Idiot. A parody on how Vi was made.

The Vi Powered Logo
Mirror Website distributing the green image you also find at the bottom of this page.

Vi Images and Logos
This a sub-page of the Vi Pages, but I thought it was worth mentioning separately since a lot of people like to put Vi images on their Web pages.

Research Shows: There is A Perfect Editor
A compilation of abstracts of articles on editors.

EMACS vs. vi: The endless geek 'holy war'
A reasonably serious attempt to summarize the discussion. Also features the author of this page.

A comparative study of Vi and Emacs from the perspective of novice and regular users
Tries to quantify the discussion.

Emacs bashing.

Vassilii's Editors Sucks-Rules-O-Meter
Scientific, empirical and democratic proof that Emacs sucks and Vi rules.

Vi tutorial
Written by an Emacs user. Tries to make fun of Vi.

"vi.html" 764 lines, 27533 characters

Copyright © 1994-2011 by Thomer M. Gil
Updated: 2011/04/27