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This might sound like an idiotic question. I would appreciate it if someone can let a newbie know what the differences are between vi and vim. I've heard vim is a successor to vi but whenever I try to open vi in Ubuntu it opens vim instead.

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Functionally, vim is almost a proper superset of vi. Therefore, everything that is in vi is available in vim.

Vim adds onto those features. Here are a some of the extended vim features:

  • Vim has been ported to a much wider range of OS's than vi.
  • Vim includes support (syntax highlighting, code folding, etc) for several popular programming languages (C/C++, Python, Perl, shell, etc).
  • Vim integrates with cscope.
  • Vim can be used to edit files using network protocols like SSH and HTTP.
  • Vim includes multilevel undo/redo.
  • Vim allows the screen to be split for editing multiple files.
  • Vim can edit files inside a compressed archive (gzip, zip, tar, etc).
  • Vim includes a built in diff for comparing files (vimdiff).
  • Vim includes support for plugins, and finer control over config and startup files.
  • Vim can be scripted with vimscript, or with an external scripting language (e.g. python, perl, shell).

There are many more differences. Refer below sources which are few of good places to start finding out more.

Source: Vim.Org, Vim on Wikpedia.

Hope it helps! :)

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Didn't see that you copied it word from word – Ethylene Feb 9 '14 at 15:30
That is why I've mentioned it under the source. – AzkerM Feb 9 '14 at 15:52

"vi" is an text editor from the early days of Unix. It became quite popular and made its way into the Single Unix Specification (SUS) and POSIX, but wasn't freely available (until 2002).

So several free vi-like editors emerged. Vim (" vi improved") is one of this editors. As the name suggest it adds lot of functions to the original vi interface.

In Ubuntu Vim is the only vi-like editor installed by default, and so vi actually starts Vim by default.

Other popular vi-like editors available in Ubuntu are for example nvi and elvis.

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Great, thanks!! – Ethylene Feb 9 '14 at 15:32
In Ubuntu Vim is the only vi-like editor installed by default - Xubuntu here: vim: command not found. Only vi is available. – Blauhirn Mar 12 at 18:58
@Blauhirn To be fair, technically Xubuntu is not Ubuntu. – Captain Man Mar 21 at 16:14
@Blauhirn And that vi runs vim.tiny. – muru May 26 at 16:08

vi editor is the most popular editor in linux simply we can say it as black and white screen i.e if u type any commands there is no code highlighting,where as vim is improved version of VI it also have features same like vi but it also have code highlighting.

both are having 4 basic modes 1-->write mode 2-->command mode 3-->Visual mode 4-->escape mode

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