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nano vs. vim: Terminal Text Editors Compared

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One of the primary ways to use the Terminal is to configure text files Terminal text editors and control how certain programs or system services behave. For terminal text editing, two of the top choices are nano and vim. In order to determine which one is better, we’ll look at features and general ease of use. While system resource usage could also technically be considered in this comparison, it’s safe to assume that as terminal text editors they require a negligible amount of system resources.


The nano project was created in 1999 in order to emulate the Pico text editor but improve on it. nano also claims to be 2/3 to 1/8 the size of the Pico binary, which makes it very lean and usable on even the weakest systems. vim, originally developed in 1991, is based on the original vi text editor that was developed in 1976. Therefore, like nano, vim aims to improve upon the project that it’s based on. As of right now, these two along with emacs are still the top contenders for Terminal text editing.

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