vi Editor: Back from the dead

So for my job-related reasons, I have acquired an account on the NASA supercomputer, Columbia to run our CFD runs using DPLR to simulate possible cavity damage on the Shuttle.  It’s already a messy process to get onto Columbia since you need to get on it securely.

The kicker is that since the bandwidth is restricted as it goes through JSC’s gateway, running any kind of GUI-based programs including text editors is near-impossible.  This meant that I had to *gasp* get re-acquainted with the old ‘vi’ editor!    For the non-nerds of the world, vi is a text editor for Unix systems that is purely based on keyboard inputs (no mouse or clicks can save you here!) and there are two modes: input mode and navigational mode. 

I have been putting off getting used to vi for as long as I could!  Even ‘nedit’ and ‘jot’ are so much easier as it supports Windows’ good ol’ “Cntrl-C” and “Cntrl-V”, aka. copy and paste.    However, to really get going on the supercomputer, I had to finally pick up on vi.  At first, it was dreadful… since there are two modes, you had to remember what mode you were in and it was very rough to get around.

However, there’s a saving grace about this editor.  It’s very powerful once you get over the learning curve.  You see, you can skip loads of lines and spaces, search for texts, replace and repeat with ease.  When editing something repetitive is where this shines.  In nav mode, “.” key represents “repeat last command”.  So you could replace a character with ‘r’ for replacing and then, say, replace with ‘2’.  Then hit ‘/’ key + search text to search for next occurrence, and hit ‘.’ key to repeat the replacement!! 

Ah yes…  my life of submitting and running several CFD runs on the Shuttle is now much easier… and dare I say that… *gasp* it’s better than lousy Windows editors!!   

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