10.64. Vim-7.4

The Vim package contains a powerful text editor.

10.64.1. Installation of Vim


Alternatives to Vim

If you prefer another editor—such as Emacs, Joe, or Nano—please refer to http://cblfs.cross-lfs.org/index.php/Category:Text_Editors for suggested installation instructions.

The following patch merges all updates from the 7.4 Branch from the Vim developers:

patch -Np1 -i ../vim-7.4-branch_update-7.patch

Change the default location of the vimrc configuration file to /etc:

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

Prepare Vim for compilation:

./configure --prefix=/usr

Compile the package:


To test the results, issue:

make test

However, this test suite outputs a lot of binary data to the screen, which can cause issues with the settings of the current terminal. This can be resolved by redirecting the output to a log file.

Install the package:

make install

Many users are accustomed to using vi instead of vim. Some programs, such as vigr and vipw, also use vi. Create a symlink to permit execution of vim when users habitually enter vi and allow programs that use vi to work:

ln -sv vim /usr/bin/vi

By default, Vim's documentation is installed in /usr/share/vim. The following symlink allows the documentation to be accessed via /usr/share/doc/vim-7.4, making it consistent with the location of documentation for other packages:

ln -sv ../vim/vim74/doc /usr/share/doc/vim-7.4

If an X Window System is going to be installed on the CLFS system, you may want 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, refer to the Vim documentation and the Vim installation page in CBLFS at http://cblfs.cross-lfs.org/index.php/Vim.

10.64.2. 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 be the first setting in the configuration file. 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
set ruler
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'

10.64.3. 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, xxd
Installed directory: /usr/share/vim

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 tags file for Perl scripts


Generates a tags file for TCL code


Starts vim in read-only mode


Link to vim


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


Spell checks 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 CLFS nor in CBLFS


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