Vi vs Vim- Which one is better Linux Editor?

Text editors in Unix’s based OS(es) Linux, Mac, or any other comes in tablets or laptops. Mostly have default text-editor either the VI or VIM.

The decision to pick one is very straightforward.

You will find most people voting for Vim over Vi because it’s an improved version- contain updated features.

The Difference between Vim vs Vi

VIM is an abbreviation for Vi Improved- a clone is a modified version of the vi text editor program for Unix systems.

With its graphical user interface, Vim offers both forms; it can be used as a CLI editor as well as in GUI mode.

That being said, previously text editors used to work in only Command-line mode, and at that time, Vim was the only go-to editor.

Both editors are still free in 2021, As a free and open-source project, it is published under the GPL license

Even these days, many touch typists prefer Vi over vim since it allows them to keep their fingers on the top row when typing.

Whereas Vim does not have icons or menus, its GUI mode, gVim, add toolbars and menus of commonly used commands,

However, the full range of options is only available through its command line mode. 

What is Vi?

It can be defined as a simple text editor, an older version of Vim.

Being old-aged, it does not uphold additional feature even doesn’t allow a person to undo more than one time, that makes it a quite hard choice for beginners.

Still, individuals use it because it comes default in Ubuntu Linux distros.

What is Vim?

It is an improved version. Packed with some additional features.

Such as highlighting syntaxes while coding, multiple undo, cross-platform support to run on several OSs,

It also stores command history so you can check the past commands that you have written earlier.

Thus, its dual nature make it a 2-in-1 software, whether use for simple text editing or use it an IDE depending upon your preference.

You can scroll down to see some of the differences that will make it more clear to you.

Vi vs Vim: Comparing features

Purposeit is a text editor that comes up in Unix-based OS(es).An improved version of Vi contains advanced features.
Developed byBill’s joy in 1976.Bram Moolenaar in 1991.
LightweightIt lightweight and useful when working with Linux distros. Offers multiple features, including a visual editor in-build for highlighting syntaxes, etc. consumes more resources.
Copy-pasteEasier to copy-paste content in this editor- using c and p commands.Difficult to copy and paste using the traditional method. Instead, required, f2 boot.
Find a wordIt can find words.It also can find a specific work in a file.
Easy to learnFor basic editing tasks, it’s easier, however, troublesome when going beyond its limit.It is easier to learn. Has useful documentation right up on its website.
Mouse supportDoes not support a mouse.Support for a mouse.

Also read: 25+ Free Linux ebooks for download

How Vim’s is better than Vi?

Although Vim has a vi compatibility mode, it has many enhancements over vi when that mode doesn’t exist.

And Even in compatibility mode, Vim is not 100% compatible with vi, as defined in the Single Unix Specification and POSIX (e.g., Vim cannot open vi files, only visuals).

It is said that Vim’s developers said that it is very compatible with Vi- which is not true at all. 

As it has an integrated help system, regular expressions, feature-rich scripting languagesa

A graphical user interface (called gvim), completions, comparisons and merging of files (via vimdiff), and extended regular expressions. Vim is now overriding vi.

Other important features include mouse interaction for formats as well as protocols like SSH, FTP, and HTTP; programmer syntaxes are also highlighted.

Why Vim is better and a go-to text editor?

Vim has been indispensable to me throughout my life (excluding my childhood) and I have spent about a month using only vi to edit.

So I figured out I was reliant upon Vim for all  of my text modification needs. 

When I used vi in the past, every time I had to make a substitution in a large collection of files.

Vim’s :bufdo command let me simply open up the files, and whenever I needed to indent or format them, I used Vim’s = and gw commands.

Vim was my go-to editor. Then, having realized vi did not offer these commands, I had to use sed to transform large amounts of text, and I learned a great deal about awk and indent. 

Despite switching back to Vim in the end, the knowledge I gained from using a less feature-rich editor has been extremely helpful.

I also gained a better understanding of vi while exploring tools outside of a text editor.

In every environment where Vim isn’t available, I feel much more confident about  using vi than I did before my month-long excursion.

Why the Vi editor is still being used?

Although vi has many limitations, even you cannot things like syntax highlighting, multiple redos, and so on so forth.

I still see many people are sticking to it rather than dropping it and picking the updated one.

Well, in return, when I ask them why are they so attached with vi?

They answered,” we have learned additional Unix commands using it and broke through the limitations that you are holding up in your mind”.

Here is one thing that you can take as an advantage, that is, it is purely wrapped up acting like a text editor.

There is nothing that could make you feel like tackling something that has a couple of unnecessary features, for instance, highlighting syntaxes of languages and opening files using network protocols like SSH and HTTP.

Overall, it could be a great choice for you, but not as greatest as its improved version. Let’s see why everyone is saying that, including me.

Also read: Best Linux terminal emulators

updated features in VIm.

Let’s start by looking at some of its advantages, so you can clearly decide and see the capabilities that you’ll also gonna take.

Multiple undo

Like most of the popular text editors you might have used before, you can undo there multiple times.

That means if something goes wrong while writing a document, you can revert back the changes.

Unlike vi, which only offers one redo, the limit of redos is extended to 1000 times in vim.


You are not bound to use vim only in Linux distros, as it supports cross-platform, which means that you can get this text editor on multiple OSs, including macOS, windows, etc.

Multiple Tabs

Often this is compared to code editors as visual code editors. Do you know why?

Because its multiple tabs features allow users to open and work on more than one file simultaneously.

Pretty similar to a code editor where you can manage different tasks.

You can do this by passing this command.

Use -o for horizontally split the window screen, or O- for vertically split. And add the file name in which you’re currently in.

For example -O file1.txt file2.txt. Doing so will open these two files in vertically tab mode.

And when you out -o file 1.txt file2.txt, thus it will open two tabs horizontally accordingly.

Flexible insert mode

This improvement is pretty clear to people who have used vi, what happens when opening and writing in insert mode.

We have to first follow up with a or I argument.

vim fixes this. You can now jump start with working around in it.


It is also a super useful feature added in vim, with this you can see your previous commands also can revise them multiple times. Use this command to get the list of your earlier hit commands. : help complex-repeat.

Visual mode

With visual mode, you can highlight the syntaxes of many programming languages.

It is obviously not necessary for many people; however, it still adds a plus point to it.

Mouse support

Vim is a mouse-supported text editor.

Earlier, it was troublesome to move from one place to another. You will feel more comfortable while working in it.

Auto-completion tools like kite and tabnine supports vim.

There are several many amazing features.

Below is the list of some that I’ve picked. Anyways, when you begin to start. You will see many that are not on this list. Good luck!

  • Block operators
  • Online help system
  • Command-line editing and history
  • Command-line completion (tab completion)
  • Horizontal scrolling (long lines)
  • Unicode and internationalization improvements
  • Jump tags
  • Automatic commands
  • Viminfo
  • Mouse support
  • Graphical User Interface (GUI)
  • Scripting language
  • Plugins
  • Syntax highlighting for many programming languages
  • Extended regular e

The listed features are speaking for improvements made in this text-editor, ultimately vim offers them all. On the other hand, if you use vi, then for sure you will not be able to get advantages of these robust highlighted features.

I think it becomes easier for one to understand the real difference between the two, well the cover-title is still the same as one is outdated, and the other is updated.

We have through different ways to let you help to make a better decision.

It is for sure there are differences in their Linux commands also. However, I will not say which one is easier to go for, no matter what is on your mind.

You have to learn syntax in order to utilize them—either vi or vim. You can visit this website to learn commands.

Also read: Linux distros for Gamings

Wrapping up

We have gone through every-corner to find out reasons. In the end, I would suggest you first yourself this question? Should I need an advancement?

If your question is YES. You should learn vim rather than vi which is almost nowhere can be found in 2021.

Besides, it is getting popular as the number of Linux users is increasing. It also concludes here a better choice. Well, you are still not sure about them? Don’t think too much they both actually share a similar user interface.

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