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Unix in a Nutshell, 4th Edition by Arnold Robbins

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ex Basics

The ex line editor serves as the foundation for the screen editor vi. Commands in ex work on the current line or on a range of lines in a file. Most often, you use ex from within vi. In vi, ex commands are preceded by a colon and entered by pressing ENTER.

You can also invoke ex on its own—from the command line—just as you would invoke vi. (You could execute an ex script this way.) Or you can use the vi command Q to quit the vi editor and enter ex.

Syntax of ex Commands

To enter an ex command from vi, type:

:[address] command [options]

An initial : indicates an ex command. As you type the command, it is echoed on the status line. Execute the command by pressing the ENTER key. address is the line number or range of lines that are the object of command. options and addresses are described below. ex commands are described in the section "Alphabetical Summary of ex Commands."

You can exit ex in several ways:

:x

Exit (save changes and quit).

:q!

Quit without saving changes.

:vi

Switch to the vi editor on the current file.

Addresses

If no address is given, the current line is the object of the command. If the address specifies a range of lines, the format is:

x,y

where x and y are the first and last addressed lines (x must precede y in the buffer). x and y may each be a line number or a symbol. Using ; instead of , sets the current line to x before interpreting y. The notation 1,$ addresses all lines in the file, as does %.

Address Symbols

1,$

All lines in the file. ...

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