3.8 Text Editors

A lot of configuration in FreeBSD is done by editing text files. Because of this, it would be a good idea to become familiar with a text editor. FreeBSD comes with a few as part of the base system, and many more are available in the ports collection.

The easiest and simplest editor to learn is an editor called ee, which stands for easy editor. To start ee, one would type at the command line ee filename where filename is the name of the file to be edited. For example, to edit /etc/rc.conf, type in ee /etc/rc.conf. Once inside of ee, all of the commands for manipulating the editor's functions are listed at the top of the display. The caret ^ character means the control key on the keyboard, so ^e expands to pressing the control key plus the letter e. To leave ee, hit the escape key, then choose leave editor. The editor will prompt you to save any changes if the file has been modified.

FreeBSD also comes with more powerful text editors such as vi as part of the base system, and emacs and vim as part of the FreeBSD Ports Collection. These editors offer much more functionality and power at the expense of being a little more complicated to learn. However if you plan on doing a lot of text editing, learning a more powerful editor such as vim or emacs will save you much more time in the long run.

This, and other documents, can be downloaded from ftp://ftp.FreeBSD.org/pub/FreeBSD/doc/.

For questions about FreeBSD, read the documentation before contacting <questions@FreeBSD.org>.
For questions about this documentation, e-mail <doc@FreeBSD.org>.