Author: Humphrey MpairweLast Updated: Tue, Mar 1, 2022
A terminal-based text editor is an essential kit for server management, it makes code editing, configuration file editing, creating and saving files easy. By default, most Unix systems including OpenBSD are preinstalled with vi as the default text editor, but with the advancement in code stacks, newer text editors such as Vim, Nano, Emacs, offer better features, editing, and support for multiple file types.
In this article, you will learn how to install and use common text editors on OpenBSD.
Nano is a popular, beginner-friendly, and easy to use text editor, it uses a
control +standard where you must press a corresponding key to perform a specific function.
# pkg_add nano
Enter some text in the editor.
Control + O (Write Out), enter a filename to save the file, and press Enter.
File Name to Write:
To exit Nano, press
Control + X.
To open an existing file for editing, run nano and the file path. For example, the following command opens the OpenBSD Packet Filter configuration file.
# nano /etc/httpd.conf
Perform a search by pressing
Control + W, and enter the string to search.
^W Where Is
For further information on how to use the Nano text editor, simply press
Control + G (Get Help).
^G Get Help
Vim is a straightforward, highly configurable, extendable, and efficient text editor. It is the improved version of the default vi text editor with advanced features and commands.
# pkg_add vim
VIM offers multiple usage modes, normal, insert, visual and command modes. By default, Vim starts in normal mode. Start it with the following command:
Enter insert mode by pressing
i on your keyboard.
Enter some text in the editor. Then, press escape
esc on your keyboard to switch back to normal mode.
Now, enter a colon
: to switch to command mode. Then, add
w to save your file.
Exit Vim by entering
q in command mode.
For more information on how to use Vim, enter
help in command mode.
GNU Emacs is one of the most versatile text editors, supports multiple file types, code syntax highlighting, and highly extensible with a large collection of available modules. However, it’s an advanced editor, and not beginner-friendly.
Select option 3 (no_x11) to install the terminal version.
Ambiguous: choose package for emacs a 0: <None> 1: emacs-27.2p3-gtk2 2: emacs-27.2p3-gtk3 3: emacs-27.2p3-no_x11 Your choice:
To start emacs, use the following command.
For more information on how to use emacs, refer to the official documentation.
NeoVim is a fork of Vim that adds more extensibility, and uses the same modes, commands as Vim. To install NeoVIM, use the following command:
# pkg_add neovim
Enter insert mode
i to create a simple file, and save with
wq in command mode.
To migrate Vim configurations to NeoVim, simply create a symlink between the two configuration file directories.
For further information on how to use NeoVim, refer to the official documentation.
Micro is a text editor that is designed to be easy and offers standard key bindings using the Control (Ctrl) key. It offers syntax highlighting, multiple cursors in a file, and highly extensible with plugins.
To install Micro, use the following command:
# pkg_add micro
Enter text in the editor, and save your file with Control + S. To undo changes to the file, press Control + Z on the keyboard, and press Control + q to exit the editor.
There is no limitation on the number of text editors you can run on your OpenBSD server. However, depending on your experience with any of the text editors listed in this article, you can create, edit and modify files through your server terminal.
To open files with any of the text editors, simply start the editor with the file path as an argument, for example: