Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

i have ubuntu 10.10 installed on a box. and i ssh to it from another computer.

when i do sudo vi /var/www/page.php

i enter a text editor. when when i try to type i hear that ding noise as in i cant type. what do i press to allow me to start typing? when i type :q that works and it quits it. but what allows me to start typing? thanks

share|improve this question
Matt Jenkin's list is a good primer but if things work out too difficult, use 'nano' instead. Its probably a lot closer to the text editors your used to. Instead of writing 'vi file', write 'nano file'. – PriceChild Apr 8 '11 at 8:28
up vote 2 down vote accepted

Vi is what is known as a modal editor - that means it has a number of modes in which it operates.

When you first start vi it is in command mode. Some common command mode key sequences:

  • :q - Quit
  • :q! - Force quit
  • :w - Write file
  • :wq! - Forced write file and exit
  • :w /path/to/my/new/file - Write to a new file
  • :r /path/to/file - read file and insert into buffer

To switch into one of the editing modes:

  • i - Enter insert mode infront of the current character
  • r - Replace single character
  • R - Enter replace mode
  • a - Enter insert mode after the current character
  • A - Enter insert mode at the end of the current line
  • o - Open a new line below cursor and enter insert mode
  • O - Open a new line above cursor and enter insert mode

To return to command mode just press Esc

There are a huge number of other keypresses in command mode - this list is pretty useful.

share|improve this answer

type a to append or i to insert
Refer this document for more commands

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.