Important note

These pages are deprecated (latest changes date from end 2001). More recent information may be found at I leave the old pages here as they are because lots of people are still visiting them (eventhough they aren't spell-checked), and because the basics are still useful.


In this chapter we will present some of the most commonly used editors. Using an editor is the clue to mastering a Unix system, so don't skip this one.


It is very important for a user to be able to use at least one text mode editor. Knowing how to use an editor on you system is the first step to independence.

Learning how to use an editor does not work by memorizing every single command. Practice is the only way.

We will need to master an editor by the next chapter: we need it to edit files that influence our environment. As an advanced user, you may want to start writing scripts, or books, or develop websites or new programs. Mastering an editor, preferrably one of the first two we will present below, will immensely improve your productivity as well as your capabilities.

Since graphical editors, running in an X session, have very similar interfaces to the ones used on a PC, we won't discuss them here. Refer to the help function these commands usually include, or to their user manual.