Using text editors in Linux

Learn the basics for using Emacs and vi text editors for your e-mail, Web design and programming needs in Linux.

Learn the basics for using Emacs and vi text editors for your e-mail, Web design and programming needs in Linux.

If you've recently installed Linux on your desktop PC, or are working with some other flavor of Unix, you've probably had to do some text editing. Fortunately, Unix systems have long come equipped with two powerful text editors: vi and Emacs.

Whether you use e-mail, design Web pages, or write computer programs, you'll need a text editor. Both vi and Emacs have their fans and critics; in fact, Unix text editor wars have already taken up far too much space on the Internet. We'll avoid taking sides here, but rather show you the basics of editing text files with both programs, as well as their respective strengths and weaknesses along the way.

Start learning about the Linux text editor of your choice:

Learning more
Both Emacs and vi have a long tradition with Unix systems, and both can perform editing duties admirably. Of course, both editors have many more features than we were able to go over in this article. Since both programs are readily available, go ahead and give them a spin to find out which text editor feels best for you. To learn more about Linux, check out these resources:


Bruce Stewart is a freelance technology writer. He covers Web software, operating systems, the wireless industry and contributes regularly to ZDNet.