Before you start
Learn what to expect from this tutorial, and how to get the most out of it.
This four-part tutorial series covers UNIX® basics from a user perspective. This initial tutorial is a good brush-up for users who have been away from UNIX-like operating systems for some time. It's also useful for brand-new UNIX users coming from a Windows® background, because it uses references and comparisons to Windows. Later tutorials in the series will cover specific applications (vi, for instance) in detail and discuss shell tricks and tips.
The vi editor has been around for 30 years, with only minor changes. It maintains a mouse-free and keyboard-driven interface that lets users keep their fingers in the home positions at all times. Users can switch between two modes, insert and command mode, to either insert text or manipulate and navigate the document, respectively. The command mode provides users with all the actions that are normally achieved through a point-and-click mouse-driven interface.
The objective of this tutorial is to make new vi users comfortable with creating, editing, and navigating text documents. It focuses on common vi commands, and it goes into detail on some of vi's more esoteric features. The most important thing to remember when learning to use vi is that you should expect text editing to feel slow and cumbersome at first. Try to think back to the first time you used a mouse or when you first learned to type. This 30-year-old application forces users into a new mode of thinking, but the learning curve is well worth the end benefits of high-speed, mouse-free text editing.
You need a basic understanding of the command line for this tutorial. You should understand what files and directories are and be able to log in to your account on a UNIX-like operating system.
Access to a user account on any computer running any UNIX-like operating system is all you need to complete this tutorial. UNIX-like operating systems include the IBM® AIX® operating system, Linux®, Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD), Mac OS® X (using Terminal to access the command line), and many others.