Software & AppsOperating SystemLinux

Gvim vs Vim: What’s the Difference?

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Vim, a highly configurable and powerful text editor, has been a favorite among programmers and power users for decades. But there’s another version of Vim that offers a graphical user interface (GUI) and some additional features: GVim. In this article, we’ll explore the key differences between GVim and Vim, and help you decide which one might be the best fit for your needs.

Quick Answer

GVim and Vim are essentially the same text editor, but with different user interfaces. GVim offers a graphical user interface with menus and toolbars, making it more visually appealing and user-friendly for those who prefer using a mouse. Vim, on the other hand, runs in a terminal emulator and is designed for efficient keyboard usage. The choice between GVim and Vim depends on personal preferences and workflow.

What is Vim?

Vim, which stands for “Vi Improved,” is an advanced text editor that seeks to provide the power of the Unix editor ‘Vi’, with a more complete feature set. It’s open-source and available across many platforms. Vim is designed for use both from a command-line interface and as a standalone application in a graphical user interface.

What is GVim?

GVim, or GUI Vim, is essentially Vim with a built-in graphical user interface. This means that GVim offers all the features of Vim, but with additional GUI features such as menus, toolbars, and scrollbars. This makes GVim more visually appealing and user-friendly, especially for those who prefer using a mouse.

Key Differences Between GVim and Vim

GUI Features

The most obvious difference between GVim and Vim is the user interface. GVim offers a GUI-like interface with menus and toolbars, making it more visually appealing and user-friendly for those who prefer using a mouse.

In addition to this, GVim supports a wider range of colors (RGB), advanced graphical features like spell checking with wiggly lines, flexible cursor shapes, mouse support (including drag-and-drop for files), customizable menu system, scrollbars that scroll the Vim buffer, popup balloons (tooltips), true italics, and integrated font support.

Compile-time Features

Installing a GUI version of Vim may provide more compile-time features compared to the version without a GUI. This is particularly true for certain distributions where the GUI version (e.g., vim-gnome) offers additional features like clipboard and client-server support compared to the non-GUI version (e.g., vim-nox).

Terminal Emulation

GVim is not a full terminal emulator, so it may not work well with external programs that heavily rely on terminal features. For example, starting programs like vim, mutt, or irssi from GVim may not function properly. Additionally, certain Vim commands that open manpages or utilize terminal-specific features may not work in GVim.

On the other hand, Vim runs in a terminal emulator and is designed for efficient keyboard usage. It does not rely on a GUI, which can be an advantage for those who prefer a more minimalist, distraction-free environment.

Which One Should You Choose?

Whether you should choose GVim or Vim depends largely on your personal preferences and workflow.

If you prefer a GUI with menus and toolbars, and you like using your mouse, you might find GVim more to your liking. Its additional GUI features and visual appeal can make it a more user-friendly option, especially if you’re new to Vim.

On the other hand, if you’re comfortable working in a terminal and you prefer using keyboard commands for efficiency, Vim might be the better choice for you. It’s lean, powerful, and doesn’t require a GUI to run, making it a great option for remote sessions or low-resource environments.

In conclusion, both GVim and Vim offer powerful text editing features that can greatly enhance your productivity. The best one for you depends on your personal preferences and the specific needs of your workflow.

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