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Vim is a full-featured text editor. It is basically a clone of vi with a lot of features.

Vim is a modal editor: in different modes of vim, the same keystroke is interpreted differently.

{i} You can open vim from the command line by typing 'vim'. If you want to learn more, then type ':vimtutor' for a relatively quick (~30 min) interactive introduction. For help type ':help' or press 'F1'.

Small tips to survive in Vim

To insert text (and be in the insert mode): press 'i' then edit your text. To come back to the command mode press "ESC".

To save text (in command mode): press ':w'

To quit vim (in command mode): press ':q'

To quit vim without saving (in command mode): press ':q!'

To delete the line where the cursor is (in command mode): press 'dd'

Packages to install Vim

In Debian several packages are built from the same source package. They have different set of features enabled, for example support of GUI, scripting languages, or + and * registers to copy and paste to and from X11 PRIMARY selection and CLIPBOARD even from text versions. What packages are used for vi, vim and gvim commands are managed through DebianAlternatives.

Other packages providing vi and vim

Do not confuse nvi having much less features than vim and nvim from neovim.

vim-athena package is replaced by vim-motif in Debian 12 bookworm.

There is no vim-gnome package any more, install vim-gtk3.

Syntax highlighting

Vim supports syntax highlighting. To activate it open up


and uncomment the line

" Vim5 and later versions support syntax highlighting. Uncommenting the next
" line enables syntax highlighting by default.
syntax on

Other text editors

If you don't know anything about vi, it is better to use nano.

See Also