Saturday, October 14, 2006

The vi editor

Once, or maybe twice or more, all of us have had to use vi at some point. Maybe we used it to edit rc.conf, or maybe it was used to write our first document, or maybe it was the first application we ever used from the prompt. To many of us (including me) it is an extremely rigid, hard to use, and counter-intuitive editor. But vi, in general, stands as the most well-known and ubiquitous editor for Unix or Linux, although later Emacs took this position. vi (for visual inter face :) ) was created originally in 1976 by the UC-Berkeley student Bill Joy, who later worked at Sun Microsystems. It replaced ed (ex), Unix's first editor. For those of you who have heard of or used DOS'S EDLIN.EXE, know what this editor is like. Vi was sort of an update of this for Unix. It became very commonly used as an "all-for-one" editor, and it is especially typist and ASCII-friendly. While rather archaic, vi is very efficient, and, once you get used to it, it starts getting easier to work with. Overall, vi was one of the first all-purpose Unix editor to be commonly known and well distributed.

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