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Nano or Vim Decoding the Battle of Text Editors

Nano and Vim are two popular text editors used in Linux World. A text editor is a tool that we use to take notes, edit configuration files, or write programs in a Linux system. Note that Linux distributions are provided with a pre-installed text editor by default, regardless of the user’s needs. What should you consider when choosing a text editor? We will analyze these two editors for you. Nano or Vim, which one is better?

Understanding the differences: Nano vs Vim

Both Nano and Vim editors are designed to work in Terminal and Linux operating systems, and their task is to allow users to create and edit text files from the command line. But of course, they have different features, learning curves, and usability.

One of the most obvious differences between these two editors is that Nano is more suitable for beginners and does not handle complex tasks, while Vim is a more powerful and advanced tool that can perform complex edits quickly and easily. In the following sections, we will explain this issue more widely and completely. Before comparing the two text editors Nano and Vim, we recommend you choose a Linux VPS server from the plans presented on our website and enjoy its quality and speed.

Features and capabilities of Nano

As we explained before Nano is a beginner tool but it has its unique features:

  • Possibility of multi-level cancellation
  • Ability to highlight syntax
  • The ability to edit the command line
  • Ability to complete the file name
  • There are several windows and buffers
  • Ability to fold
  • Sessions
  • Macro mode
nano text editor

Features and capabilities of Vim

  • Ability to open multiple files
  • The capability of scrolling in each line
  • Ability to cancel or restart
  • The possibility of syntax coloring
  • Ability to number line

As mentioned earlier, Vim offers more advanced functions. However, both editors provide the essentials for editing system configuration files, text editing, and programming.

Vim text editor

Pros and cons of using Nano

The remarkable and important thing about nano editors is that it doesn’t have a big learning curve. That is, whenever you use Nano, a list of all the commands you need will appear at the bottom of the screen. Now, let’s see what are the advantages and disadvantages of this editor:

Pros of Nano

  • Nano has no learning curve.
  • Nano is user-friendly and idiot-proof.
  • It is suitable for simple edits.

Cones of Nano

  • It is not suitable for complex editing and it will be time-consuming.
  • Nano has no powerful features like macro, split window, the capability of viewing multiple files at once, auto-completion, verticle block, rectangle selecting or editing, etc.

Pros and cons of using Vim

Nano does only one thing, but it is incomplete and has limited functionality. On the other hand, when you can use the Vim editor, you will be very fast and efficient. If you want to work regularly at the command line, learning this powerful editor would be a very wise thing to do. Here we will show you some other advantages and disadvantages of Vim:

Pros of Vim

  • Vim does only one thing and that is basic text editing.
  • This editor is very powerful and advanced and can make complex edits quickly and easily.
  • It has unparalleled efficiency and speed. Among its features, we can mention the existence of shortcut keys, support for multiple files, command repetition and auto-completion, and many others.

Cons of Vim

  • The learning curve of Vim scares most users.
  • If you don’t have experience with Vim, you can’t work.
  • If you only need simple edits, Vim is not a good choice.

Use cases for Nano

Nano is generally used for people who are new to the command line and the editing they have to do is very simple. That is, all a normal Linux user needs is to use Nano as a simple editor. Use cases of Nano can be:

1- It is used to edit texts quickly and simply.

2- Nano is a great choice for editing files on remote servers and is good for editing configuration files.

3- It is used to modify the system configuration files. These files control the settings and functions of operating systems and installed software.

4- It can be used in basic code editing tasks in programming languages like shell scripting.

5- It is suitable for quickly reviewing the contents of the text file comparing the contents of files, and checking information.

6- As Nano is a good choice for beginners, it is suitable for teaching and learning to work with Unix-based operating systems.

7- Developers and admins use Nano to inspect and analyze log files generated by services and applications.

Use cases for Vim

The Vim editor does only one thing, but it will be the best and most complete, and that is text editing. Now, if you are an admin user, programmer, or someone who needs to edit and edit, vim can be the most suitable option. Let’s see the use cases of Vim:

1- It is used by programmers and developers for code editing in different programming languages. Also, it is good for software developers because of the integration with various tools.

2- The ability to handle large text files and search and powerful replacement capability makes it a great choice for text processing tasks.

3- It is good to use this editor for configuration files, log files, and scripts in system administrations.

4- Vim is proper to use in editing shell scripts and other scripting languages.

5- It is good to use for markup and document editing such as HTML.

6- Some users prefer to use Vim for its distraction-free writing environment. 

and other cases like code refactoring, remote editing, and as a learning tool. 

Comparing Nano and Vim for Coding

In this part, we are going to learn some comparative points about Nano and Vim editors for coding:

Vim adds like a model and you can change between the edit mode and command mode. On the other hand, with Nano, you can only use one mode. Vim is much faster. Also, Vim is adaptable and can cooperate with a variety of workflows, but Nano is simple to work with and helps edit anything you want. Nano is a kind of what you see is what you get but Vim is vice versa. 

Popular plugins and extensions for Nano

Some useful plugins which can be used in Nano editor are: 

Line numbers: Nano can display line numbers on the left side of the editor to scroll through the code and help with debugging.

Syntax highlighting: This plugin is supported by Nano for various programming languages.

Auto-indentation: In this code editor, it can automatically find indentation based on the syntax, reducing manual effort and maintaining the uniformity of the code.

Search and Replace: With this option, certain text strings are searched in the file and they can be replaced with different content.

keybindings customization: 

Multiple Buffering: Nano can use the “nano -F file” command and work with multiple files at the same time.

Soft or hard wrap: Soft and hard text wrapping is supported in Nano, making it easier to review and edit long lines of text.

Spell checking: Text spelling checking can be configured in Nano using the “Spelling” option.

Popular plugins and extensions for Vim

Here are some common plugins that are provided for the Vim editor:

NERDtree: It is a system explorer that allows you to navigate and interact with files and directories in Vim.

Emmet-Vim: This one is a strong completion tool for HTML, Javascript, or CSS to make dynamic completions. 

Vim-get gutter: This one is used to show Git diff information in the gutter area to show added, deleted, or modified lines. 

Vundle: a well-known plugin manager that simplifies the installation and management of plugins.

Surround: Used to simplify working with parentheses, brackets, and quotes by creating shortcuts to add, change and remove them.

Easymotion: If you want to move the cursor around the screen with intuitive one-letter shortcuts in a quick way, use Easymotion.

Commentary: To easily comment and remove lines of code in various programming languages, use this plugin.

Choosing the right text editor for your needs

The choice between Nano and Vim largely depends on your familiarity with each editor and your needs. If you’re a beginner or require basic text editing, Nano’s simplicity might be more suitable. On the other hand, if you spend a lot of time in a terminal and need advanced text editing capabilities, Vim is a powerful choice that can greatly enhance your productivity.

Ultimately, both editors have their merits, and it’s not uncommon for seasoned users to be proficient in both Nano and Vim, using them for different tasks based on their requirements.


This comprehensive tutorial was built to give a clear vision of two popular Unix-based text editors called: Nano and Vim. You can use them to edit, write and manage actions on your system. Here, you learned about the differences between Nano and Vim. Also, we compared and tried to introduce the features of these two. we hope you enjoyed the article.

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