In the Linux system, text editors are an indispensable tool in every developer’s toolkit. In this field, the Vi and Vim editors are undoubtedly the most popular and widely used text editors. Although their names are similar and their functions overlap, Vim is actually an evolution from Vi, adding many powerful new features. This article will delve into the differences between Vi and Vim in the Linux system, taking you on a journey through the evolution of Linux text editing.

Introduction to the Vi Editor

The Vi (Visual Interface) editor is a traditional text editor that has been available on nearly all UNIX systems since its release in 1976. Its design philosophy is to provide a simple and efficient text editing environment by enhancing user efficiency through mode editing. The Vi editor has three basic modes: command mode, insert mode, and bottom line mode. Each mode has its unique functions and key operations, and users need to switch between them to edit text.

The Rise of the Vim Editor

Vim (Vi IMproved) is an enhanced version of Vi, released by Bram Moolenaar in 1991. Vim not only inherits all the features of Vi but also adds many functions required for modern text editing. These new features make Vim more suitable for modern programming needs than Vi.

Feature Expansion

Vim introduced features such as syntax highlighting, code folding, multi-level undo, auto-completion, spell checking, multiple windows, and tabbed pages. These features greatly enhance the convenience and efficiency of programming. For example, syntax highlighting makes the code easier to read and debug; multi-level undo allows users to undo multiple editing steps, making code modifications more flexible.

User Interface

While Vim retains the mode editing feature of Vi, it offers a richer user interface and more flexible user interface configuration. Users can personalize their editor through the .vimrc configuration file, from key mapping to plugin management, Vim provides a wide range of customization options.

Plugin System

Another important feature of Vim is its plugin system. Users can install and use various plugins according to their needs, thus expanding Vim’s functionality. This high degree of extensibility means that Vim can adapt to various workflows, from text processing to full-stack development.

Community Support

Vim has an active community, with members constantly contributing new plugins and improvements to Vim. This strong community support ensures that Vim remains at the forefront of modern text editors.