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6.23. Vim-6.3

The Vim package contains a powerful text editor.

Approximate build time: 0.4 SBU

Required disk space: 34 MB

Vim installation depends on: Bash, Binutils, Coreutils, Diffutils, GCC, Glibc, Grep, Make, Ncurses, and Sed


Tip: Alternatives to Vim

If you prefer another editor—such as Emacs, Joe, or Nano—please refer to http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/blfs/view/svn/postlfs/editors.html for suggested installation instructions.

6.23.1. Installation of Vim

First, unpack both vim-6.3.tar.bz2 and (optionally) vim-6.3-lang.tar.gz archives into the same directory. Then, change the default locations of the vimrc and gvimrc configuration files to /etc:

echo '#define SYS_VIMRC_FILE "/etc/vimrc"' >> src/feature.h
echo '#define SYS_GVIMRC_FILE "/etc/gvimrc"' >> src/feature.h

Prepare Vim for compilation:

./configure --prefix=/usr --enable-multibyte

The optional but highly recommended --enable-multibyte switch includes support for editing files in multibyte character encodings into vim. This is needed if using a locale with a multibyte character set. This switch is also helpful to be able to edit text files initially created in Linux distributions like Fedora Core that use UTF-8 as a default character set.

Compile the package:


To test the results, issue: make test. However, this test suite outputs a lot of chaotic characters to the screen, which can cause issues with the settings of the current terminal. Therefore, running the test suite here is optional.

Install the package:

make install

Many users are used to using vi instead of vim. To allow execution of vim when users habitually enter vi, create a symlink:

ln -s vim /usr/bin/vi

If the X Window System is going to be installed on the LFS system, it may be necessary to recompile Vim after installing X. Vim comes with a GUI version of the editor that requires X and some additional libraries to be installed. For more information on this process, refer to the Vim documentation and the Vim installation page in the BLFS book at http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/blfs/view/svn/postlfs/editors.html#postlfs-editors-vim.

6.23.2. Configuring Vim

By default, vim runs in vi-incompatible mode. This may be new to users who have used other editors in the past. The “nocompatible” setting is included below to highlight the fact that a new behavior is being used. It also reminds those who would change to “compatible” mode that it should appear first. This is necessary because it changes other settings, and overrides must come after this setting. Create a default vim configuration file by running the following:

cat > /etc/vimrc << "EOF"
" Begin /etc/vimrc

set nocompatible
set backspace=2
syntax on
if (&term == "iterm") || (&term == "putty")
  set background=dark

" End /etc/vimrc

The set nocompatible makes vim behave in a more useful way (the default) than the vi-compatible manner. Remove the “no” to keep the old vi behavior. The set backspace=2 allows backspacing over line breaks, autoindents, and the start of insert. The syntax on enables vim's syntax highlighting. Finally, the if statement with the set background=dark corrects vim's guess about the background color of some terminal emulators. This gives the highlighting a better color scheme for use on the black background of these programs.

Documentation for other available options can be obtained by running the following command:

vim -c ':options'

6.23.3. Contents of Vim

Installed programs: efm_filter.pl, efm_perl.pl, ex (link to vim), less.sh, mve.awk, pltags.pl, ref, rview (link to vim), rvim (link to vim), shtags.pl, tcltags, vi (link to vim), view (link to vim), vim, vim132, vim2html.pl, vimdiff (link to vim), vimm, vimspell.sh, vimtutor, and xxd

Short Descriptions


A filter for creating an error file that can be read by vim


Reformats the error messages of the Perl interpreter for use with the “quickfix” mode of vim


Starts vim in ex mode


A script that starts vim with less.vim


Processes vim errors


Creates a tags file for Perl code for use by vim


Checks the spelling of arguments


Is a restricted version of view; no shell commands can be started and view cannot be suspended


Is a restricted version of vim; no shell commands can be started and vim cannot be suspended


Generates a tag file for Perl scripts


Generates a tag file for TCL code


Starts vim in read-only mode


Is the editor


Is the editor


Starts vim with the terminal in 132-column mode


Converts Vim documentation to HypterText Markup Language (HTML)


Edits two or three versions of a file with vim and show differences


Enables the DEC locator input model on a remote terminal


Spells a file and generates the syntax statements necessary to highlight in vim. This script requires the old Unix spell command, which is provided neither in LFS nor in BLFS


Teaches the basic keys and commands of vim


Creates a hex dump of the given file; it can also do the reverse, so it can be used for binary patching