Linux Commands Examples

A great documentation place for Linux commands


Vi IMproved, a programmers text editor

see also : vimtutor


vim [options] [file ..]
[options] -
[options] -t tag
[options] -q [errorfile]

gvim gview evim eview
rvim rview rgvim rgview

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alias gvim='gvim -f'
gvim -u _vimrc
alias vi='gvim -v'
gvim --remote-tab
gvim -c "NERDTree" .

How to make cut/copy/paste in GVim on Ubuntu work with Ctrl+X,Ctrl+C,Ctrl+V?

I would think you can add this with the :imap command (tried it just with Ctrl+X in Windows which worked, pressing ctrl+c seems to cancel the command though so you might have to do it in vimrc).

:imap <C-X> "+x
:imap <C-C> "+y 
:imap <C-V> "+gP

If you add it to your ~/.vimrc you just need to remove the : in front of imap.

imap only adds the bindings in insert mode, so you might want to change it to just map or something else. Look into :help mapmode to learn more about remapping and unmapping stuff.

Good luck!


Setting background color in gvim

set background does not change the background, but tells vim whether your background is dark or bright (light).

You could use your .gvimrc file to set colors specific to gvim. I set my color scheme to slate, dessert, or evening because I like light-on-dark color schemes:

colorscheme slate

Or you could add this to your .gvimrc or .vimrc to set the colors to white-on-black:

highlight Normal guifg=white guibg=black


How do I copy command output in vim?

Try ':r !pwd' to get the current working directory directly in to the GVIM opened file.
You can then copy it to clipboard like you would any other text file contents opened there.


Preventing Windows version of Vim from destroying other file systems permissions

Your best bet is that there's a setting in gVim that covers saved file permissions. If there isn't a setting for that in gVim, you may be out of luck. However, since this is arguably a bug in Windows gVim, you might consider reporting it to the developers.


GVIM hangs when saving through GVFS' FTP

Unfortunately I don't think you are going to find a solution to this, at least not easily. My understanding is that it is a function of the virtual filesystem - It blocks on writes until they have completed successfully or failed so that can be accurately reported to the application.

I have (like user55325) experienced this with Kate and SFTP, also with a number of other apps, it just seems to be the way it works.

Given that my VPN to work is quite slow I've had to give up editing files this way when working from home and I've had to resort to rsync for large projects.


Show command as it's being entered in console vim?

Just add this line to your .vimrc:

set showcmd

From the Vim help:

Show (partial) command in the last line of the screen.  Set this
option off if your terminal is slow.
In Visual mode the size of the selected area is shown:
- When selecting characters within a line, the number of characters.
- When selecting more than one line, the number of lines.
- When selecting a block, the size in screen characters:


Compile gvim from sources?

This looks like the case of not having enough *-devel packages installed. Try installing all the devel packages. I think there is a meta-package for installing most of them. Try gnome-devel. Sorry I don't have Ubuntu nearby right now.

To compile different variants of vim (e.g. GUI and non-GUI), you have to configure/compile it multiple times.


How to always start gvim maximized in Linux?

It's your window manager who takes care about setting the initial window size. To get gvim maximized, you need to convince him to do that. This does of course depend on the window manager used.

Alternatively, define a window manager shortcut to maximize windows and use that after starting gvim.


How to create custom keyboard shortcuts in vim?

You could define a pair commands, like this:

command -range Cm <line1>,<line2>s/^/#/
command -range Uc <line1>,<line2>s/^#//

Note that a user-defined command must start with an upper-case letter. See

:help :command
:help user-commands

There is also a Vim plugin that many people use for this, Enhanced Commentify, but I don't have any experience with it myself.


How can I run a headless gvim to get syntax highlighted code converted to HTML?

I can't really tell whether your problem is that Vim opens too many windows at once, or that it opens any windows at all...

The latter case I can't help you with, however, in any newer Vim, you can do something like this (very primitive, can probably be made a lot nicer):

# gvim -c TOhtml -c w -c q -c q test.c

which will create a test.c.xhtml based on the file test.c using the current color scheme. Then, perhaps another -c to change the colors, stick it all in a shell script...


with no windows ever being actually displayed.

Yeah, so, I'm a moron. Please disregard this post.


How do I avoid changing a file's Linux permissions when saving over a samba connection?

You can try setting in smb.conf the nt acl support to "no" :

This boolean parameter controls whether smbd will attempt to map UNIX permissions into Windows NT access control lists.

Default: nt acl support = yes
Example: nt acl support = no

Another that might help is :

map archive = no


Terminal vim shortcut in ubuntu?

Create a shortcut with gnome-terminal -e vim as the target.


Linux GVim via SSH -X does not copy paste on selection

Turns out the problem was that vim on the remote was not compiled with GTK. This happened because the necessary package was not present on the remote box.

To fix it, log on to the remote machine and:

  1. Install gtk2-devel,
  2. re-configure, re-make, & re-install vim

A co-worker figured this out eventually.


Error while initializing GVim

I have been seeing the same GTK criticals as well on my 9.10 installation with gVim. This is supposedly fixed by patch 7.2.257. Ubuntu 9.10 is providing Vim 7.2.245, so we will see the warnings on Ubuntu until they update their vim package to at least 7.2.257. It doesn't seem to have any influence on the functionality of gVim though.

Also, it seems you need to install exuberant ctags:

sudo apt-get install exuberant-ctags

Finally, line 261 in your .vimrc is pointing to a non-existing file. Maybe the environment variable $HOMEPATH is not set?


Vim is a text editor that is upwards compatible to Vi. It can be used to edit all kinds of plain text. It is especially useful for editing programs.

There are a lot of enhancements above Vi: multi level undo, multi windows and buffers, syntax highlighting, command line editing, filename completion, on-line help, visual selection, etc.. See ":help vi_diff.txt" for a summary of the differences between Vim and Vi.

While running Vim a lot of help can be obtained from the on-line help system, with the ":help" command. See the ON-LINE HELP section below.

Most often Vim is started to edit a single file with the command

vim file

More generally Vim is started with:

vim [options] [filelist]

If the filelist is missing, the editor will start with an empty buffer. Otherwise exactly one out of the following four may be used to choose one or more files to be edited.

file ..

A list of filenames. The first one will be the current file and read into the buffer. The cursor will be positioned on the first line of the buffer. You can get to the other files with the ":next" command. To edit a file that starts with a dash, precede the filelist with "--".


The file to edit is read from stdin. Commands are read from stderr, which should be a tty.

-t {tag}

The file to edit and the initial cursor position depends on a "tag", a sort of goto label. {tag} is looked up in the tags file, the associated file becomes the current file and the associated command is executed. Mostly this is used for C programs, in which case {tag} could be a function name. The effect is that the file containing that function becomes the current file and the cursor is positioned on the start of the function. See ":help tag-commands".

-q [errorfile]

Start in quickFix mode. The file [errorfile] is read and the first error is displayed. If [errorfile] is omitted, the filename is obtained from the ’errorfile’ option (defaults to "AztecC.Err" for the Amiga, "errors.err" on other systems). Further errors can be jumped to with the ":cn" command. See ":help quickfix".

Vim behaves differently, depending on the name of the command (the executable may still be the same file).


The "normal" way, everything is default.


Start in Ex mode. Go to Normal mode with the ":vi" command. Can also be done with the "-e" argument.


Start in read-only mode. You will be protected from writing the files. Can also be done with the "-R" argument.

gvim gview

The GUI version. Starts a new window. Can also be done with the "-g" argument.

evim eview

The GUI version in easy mode. Starts a new window. Can also be done with the "-y" argument.

rvim rview rgvim rgview

Like the above, but with restrictions. It will not be possible to start shell commands, or suspend Vim. Can also be done with the "-Z" argument.


The options may be given in any order, before or after filenames. Options without an argument can be combined after a single dash.


For the first file the cursor will be positioned on line "num". If "num" is missing, the cursor will be positioned on the last line.


For the first file the cursor will be positioned on the first occurrence of {pat}. See ":help search-pattern" for the available search patterns.


-c {command}

{command} will be executed after the first file has been read. {command} is interpreted as an Ex command. If the {command} contains spaces it must be enclosed in double quotes (this depends on the shell that is used). Example: Vim "+set si" main.c
Note: You can use up to 10 "+" or "-c" commands.

-S {file}

{file} will be sourced after the first file has been read. This is equivalent to -c "source {file}". {file} cannot start with ’-’. If {file} is omitted "Session.vim" is used (only works when -S is the last argument).

--cmd {command}

Like using "-c", but the command is executed just before processing any vimrc file. You can use up to 10 of these commands, independently from "-c" commands.


If Vim has been compiled with ARABIC support for editing right-to-left oriented files and Arabic keyboard mapping, this option starts Vim in Arabic mode, i.e. ’arabic’ is set. Otherwise an error message is given and Vim aborts.


Binary mode. A few options will be set that makes it possible to edit a binary or executable file.


Compatible. Set the ’compatible’ option. This will make Vim behave mostly like Vi, even though a .vimrc file exists.


Start in diff mode. There should be two, three or four file name arguments. Vim will open all the files and show differences between them. Works like vimdiff(1).

-d {device}

Open {device} for use as a terminal. Only on the Amiga. Example: "-d con:20/30/600/150".


Debugging. Go to debugging mode when executing the first command from a script.


Start Vim in Ex mode, just like the executable was called "ex".


Start Vim in improved Ex mode, just like the executable was called "exim".


Foreground. For the GUI version, Vim will not fork and detach from the shell it was started in. On the Amiga, Vim is not restarted to open a new window. This option should be used when Vim is executed by a program that will wait for the edit session to finish (e.g. mail). On the Amiga the ":sh" and ":!" commands will not work.


Foreground. For the GUI version, Vim will not fork and detach from the shell it was started in.


If Vim has been compiled with FKMAP support for editing right-to-left oriented files and Farsi keyboard mapping, this option starts Vim in Farsi mode, i.e. ’fkmap’ and ’rightleft’ are set. Otherwise an error message is given and Vim aborts.


If Vim has been compiled with GUI support, this option enables the GUI. If no GUI support was compiled in, an error message is given and Vim aborts.


Give a bit of help about the command line arguments and options. After this Vim exits.


If Vim has been compiled with RIGHTLEFT support for editing right-to-left oriented files and Hebrew keyboard mapping, this option starts Vim in Hebrew mode, i.e. ’hkmap’ and ’rightleft’ are set. Otherwise an error message is given and Vim aborts.

-i {viminfo}

When using the viminfo file is enabled, this option sets the filename to use, instead of the default "~/.viminfo". This can also be used to skip the use of the .viminfo file, by giving the name "NONE".


Same as -r.


Lisp mode. Sets the ’lisp’ and ’showmatch’ options on.


Modifying files is disabled. Resets the ’write’ option. You can still modify the buffer, but writing a file is not possible.


Modifications not allowed. The ’modifiable’ and ’write’ options will be unset, so that changes are not allowed and files can not be written. Note that these options can be set to enable making modifications.


No-compatible mode. Reset the ’compatible’ option. This will make Vim behave a bit better, but less Vi compatible, even though a .vimrc file does not exist.


No swap file will be used. Recovery after a crash will be impossible. Handy if you want to edit a file on a very slow medium (e.g. floppy). Can also be done with ":set uc=0". Can be undone with ":set uc=200".


Become an editor server for NetBeans. See the docs for details.


Open N windows stacked. When N is omitted, open one window for each file.


Open N windows side by side. When N is omitted, open one window for each file.


Open N tab pages. When N is omitted, open one tab page for each file.


Read-only mode. The ’readonly’ option will be set. You can still edit the buffer, but will be prevented from accidently overwriting a file. If you do want to overwrite a file, add an exclamation mark to the Ex command, as in ":w!". The -R option also implies the -n option (see below). The ’readonly’ option can be reset with ":set noro". See ":help ’readonly’".


List swap files, with information about using them for recovery.

-r {file}

Recovery mode. The swap file is used to recover a crashed editing session. The swap file is a file with the same filename as the text file with ".swp" appended. See ":help recovery".


Silent mode. Only when started as "Ex" or when the "-e" option was given before the "-s" option.

-s {scriptin}

The script file {scriptin} is read. The characters in the file are interpreted as if you had typed them. The same can be done with the command ":source! {scriptin}". If the end of the file is reached before the editor exits, further characters are read from the keyboard.

-T {terminal}

Tells Vim the name of the terminal you are using. Only required when the automatic way doesn’t work. Should be a terminal known to Vim (builtin) or defined in the termcap or terminfo file.

-u {vimrc}

Use the commands in the file {vimrc} for initializations. All the other initializations are skipped. Use this to edit a special kind of files. It can also be used to skip all initializations by giving the name "NONE". See ":help initialization" within vim for more details.

-U {gvimrc}

Use the commands in the file {gvimrc} for GUI initializations. All the other GUI initializations are skipped. It can also be used to skip all GUI initializations by giving the name "NONE". See ":help gui-init" within vim for more details.


Verbose. Give messages about which files are sourced and for reading and writing a viminfo file. The optional number N is the value for ’verbose’. Default is 10.


Start Vim in Vi mode, just like the executable was called "vi". This only has effect when the executable is called "ex".

-w {scriptout}

All the characters that you type are recorded in the file {scriptout}, until you exit Vim. This is useful if you want to create a script file to be used with "vim -s" or ":source!". If the {scriptout} file exists, characters are appended.

-W {scriptout}

Like -w, but an existing file is overwritten.


Use encryption when writing files. Will prompt for a crypt key.


Don’t connect to the X server. Shortens startup time in a terminal, but the window title and clipboard will not be used.


Start Vim in easy mode, just like the executable was called "evim" or "eview". Makes Vim behave like a click-and-type editor.


Restricted mode. Works like the executable starts with "r".


Denotes the end of the options. Arguments after this will be handled as a file name. This can be used to edit a filename that starts with a ’-’.


GTK GUI only: Echo the Window ID on stdout.


Give a help message and exit, just like "-h".


Take file name arguments literally, do not expand wildcards. This has no effect on Unix where the shell expands wildcards.


Skip loading plugins. Implied by -u NONE.


Connect to a Vim server and make it edit the files given in the rest of the arguments. If no server is found a warning is given and the files are edited in the current Vim.

--remote-expr {expr}

Connect to a Vim server, evaluate {expr} in it and print the result on stdout.

--remote-send {keys}

Connect to a Vim server and send {keys} to it.


As --remote, but without the warning when no server is found.


As --remote, but Vim does not exit until the files have been edited.


As --remote-wait, but without the warning when no server is found.


List the names of all Vim servers that can be found.

--servername {name}

Use {name} as the server name. Used for the current Vim, unless used with a --remote argument, then it’s the name of the server to connect to.

--socketid {id}

GTK GUI only: Use the GtkPlug mechanism to run gvim in another window.


Print version information and exit.



The Vim documentation files. Use ":help doc-file-list" to get the complete list.


The tags file used for finding information in the documentation files.


System wide syntax initializations.


Syntax files for various languages.


System wide Vim initializations.


Your personal Vim initializations.


System wide gvim initializations.


Your personal gvim initializations.


Script used for the ":options" command, a nice way to view and set options.


System wide menu initializations for gvim.


Script to generate a bug report. See ":help bugs".


Script to detect the type of a file by its name. See ":help ’filetype’".


Script to detect the type of a file by its contents. See ":help ’filetype’".


Files used for PostScript printing.

For recent info read the VIM home page:

on-line help

Type ":help" in Vim to get started. Type ":help subject" to get help on a specific subject. For example: ":help ZZ" to get help for the "ZZ" command. Use <Tab> and CTRL-D to complete subjects (":help cmdline-completion"). Tags are present to jump from one place to another (sort of hypertext links, see ":help"). All documentation files can be viewed in this way, for example ":help syntax.txt".


Probably. See ":help todo" for a list of known problems.

Note that a number of things that may be regarded as bugs by some, are in fact caused by a too-faithful reproduction of Vi’s behaviour. And if you think other things are bugs "because Vi does it differently", you should take a closer look at the vi_diff.txt file (or type :help vi_diff.txt when in Vim). Also have a look at the ’compatible’ and ’cpoptions’ options.

see also



Most of Vim was made by Bram Moolenaar, with a lot of help from others. See ":help credits" in Vim.
is based on Stevie, worked on by: Tim Thompson, Tony Andrews and G.R. (Fred) Walter. Although hardly any of the original code remains.

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