Getting Vim for Unix and GNU/Linux

Many modern Unix environments already come with some version of Vim. Most GNU/Linux distributions simply link the default vi location /bin/vi to a Vim executable. Most Unix users won’t ever need to install it.

Because there are so many variants of Unix and so many flavors of some variants (e.g., Sun Solaris HP-UX, *BSD, all the distributions of GNU/Linux), the most straightforward and recommended way to get Vim is to download its source, compile it, and install it.


The installation procedure described here requires a development environment capable of compiling source code. Although most Unix variants provide compilers and related tools, some (notably current releases of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution) require you to download and install additional packages before you can experience the pleasures of compiling code.

The Vim home page refers to a new installation procedure it recommends, called aap. It provides a link and brief introduction. Because aap is new and the old method of installing by downloading and compiling works well, we are not recommending aap as the installation procedure of choice. By the time you read this book, use of aap may be well established.

There are also prepackaged Vim bundles offering easy standard installations for GNU/Linux (Red Hat RPMs, Debian pkgs), IRIX (SoftwareManager), Sun Solaris (Companion Software), and HP-UX. The Vim home page provides links for all of these systems.

Vim source code is available from the ...

Get Learning the vi and Vim Editors, 7th Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.