16.6 vi Configuration

Your vi clone of choice can be configured in several ways.

A variety of commands can be entered while in command mode to set up vi just how you like it. Depending on your editor, you can enable features to make programming easier (like syntax hilighting, auto-indenting, and more), set up macros to automake tasks, enable textual substitutions, and more.

Almost all of these commands can be put into a configuration file in your home directory. elvis expects a .exrc file, while vim expects a .vimrc file. Most of the setup commands that can be entered in command mode can be placed in the configuration file. This includes setup information, textual substitutions, macros, and more.

Discussing all these options and the differences between the editors is quite an involved subject. For more information, check out the man page or web site for your preferred vi editor. Some editors (like vim) have extensive help within the editor that can be accessed with the :help command, or something similar. You can also check out the O'Reilly book Learning the vi Editor by Lamb and Robbins.

Many common programs in Linux will load up a text file in vi by default. For example, editing your crontabs will start up vi by default. If you do not like vi and would like another editor to be started instead, all you need to do is set the VISUAL environment variable to the editor you prefer. For information on setting environment variables, see the section called Environment Variables in Chapter 8. If you want to make sure that your editor will be the default every time you login, add the VISUAL setting to your .bash_profile or .bashrc files.