When I enter mode in vim, all control keys (like arrow keys, delete keys etc.) produce characters instead of expected control behaviour. How can I change this? Thanks :)

  • Works for me. Can you post the contents of /etc/vim/usr/share/vim/vimcurrent/debian.vim, /etc/vim/vimrc, and if present ~/.vimrc? You can use a link to paste.ubuntu.com instead of pasting everything into your question.
    – htorque
    Dec 6, 2010 at 12:40
  • create a blank ~/.vimrc and restart vim. does that help?
    – karthick87
    Dec 6, 2010 at 12:55
  • Lol, I only had Vi and just installed Vim. Now it works perfectly.. don't know if there is still something to post or to be solved now :s thanks for the help :)
    – Lucasmus
    Dec 6, 2010 at 12:59
  • Heh, don't worry - such things happen! :) IIRC you can close/delete your own questions.
    – htorque
    Dec 6, 2010 at 13:35

2 Answers 2


Try installing vim, instead. This is the default behavior of vi. If you have vim installed, the best way to get vim behavior is to touch .vimrc in your home directory.

  • Now that's a revelation. I had the same problem, and after reading this answer, I checked whether on my system it's vi or vim by starting vi with no filename given. The welcome screen clearly stated "vi improved". I then found out that this is actually from the package "vim-tiny". After installing vim everything works as expected. However I don't understand how Ubuntu cannot provide a properly working version of vim in the default install. :-(
    – Axel
    Nov 2, 2012 at 20:06
  • @Axel vim may also behave this way. I just updated my answer.
    – kzh
    Nov 27, 2012 at 19:41

This may happen if

  1. you're actually using old vi not vim
  2. vim doesn't recognize or know your terminal type. in the shell you invoked vi from, type

    echo $TERM

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