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I am currently using TextMate as a text editor. How important is it to learn something like vi if I am to do more sysadmin related stuff, mostly involving ssh?

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closed as not constructive by Sven, dyasny, Tom O'Connor, womble, Zoredache Apr 7 '12 at 21:32

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I'll go ahead and say very important.

Vi or vim will be on every linux or unix system you every get your hands on, whereas TextMate most certainly will not. While you may be able do to day-to-day admin stuff using TextMate and scp, what happens when you have to recover or do maintenance on a system that doesn't have a network connection? In that case, you'll be working directly on the console, and you'll likely be stuck with vim. If you're not in the habit of using vim on a regular basis, the situation is going to be much more stressful than it needs to be for you.

Additionally, it's really just a Good Thing(tm) to be able to admin your machines using only an ssh client. I carry my (password-protected) private keys around on a USB thumb drive along with the PuTTY ssh client. It's very nice to know that, from wherever I am, even if I don't have my own laptop along, I can get into my servers without needing to muck around with client-side applications.

As an aside, I tend to use familiarity with vim (and CLI usage in general) as a means of judging the skill of sysadmins I work with, interview, or otherwise come into contact with. Whether or not this is appropriate can be left for another discussion, but personally, I tend to be wary of any so-called sysadmin that doesn't at least have a modicum of vim/CLI knowledge.

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Also a bit of ed skills won't hurt. You never know when you're going to find yourself in a line-only terminal ... – adamo Apr 7 '12 at 20:30
While knowing ed is an admirable goal, I really hope we're past line terminals for the most part. And acoustic couplers. :) – EEAA Apr 7 '12 at 20:32

vi can be very feature reach, and you definitely might not need to use all those features, but knowing how to search for text, edit, delete, copy/paste, save files and abandon changes is definitely more than useful. Takes about 20 minutes to learn all of the above, and you're good to go, and use vi for sysadmin tasks.

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Yep, it's on everything, I came across it as the only editor on a system that I was trying to recover and had to grope (grep???) around blindly whilst trying to get my head around the different modes. I resolved to learn it and it's now my goto editor, I script in it, edit windows config files and of course edit Linux config etc.

Learn it, use it, extend it, abuse it.

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I think that knowing vi for a sysadmin operating on unix environments is almost indispensable (a must know) because it is present on nearly all Unix variant and "descendant" out there, so if you know vi you can edit files on any system without the need of installing new packages.

Furthermore is one of the more powerful editor in the world, so learning al least its basis is worth the effort, ever ...

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