I love vim. It’s quite possibly one of the best engineered pieces of software ever created. Let me describe how I use vi(m) keymaps in every single application that I use on a daily basis.


I highly recommend mapping the useless Caps Lock key to ESC globaly in X using xmodmap. This will be very useful in every place where we use vimbindings, like readline in your shell.

Use xev to find out the keycode for your caps lock key. On my desktop it’s 0x42, on my laptop it’s 60.

xmodmap -e 'clear Lock' -e 'keycode 60' = Escape

The virtual console / TTY

Having Caps Lock mapped to ESC outside of X is a tiny bit trickier. Make sure you’re in a TTY when you do this, or else you’ll get false results!

# Let's find out what keycodes map to the keys we want to remap
dumpkeys -l | grep -P 'escape|caps'

  Caps Lock       58
  Escape           1

Put our new definition in a file called /usr/local/share/kbd/keymaps/caps_to_esc and use the loadkeys application to load our new values:

echo 'keycode 58 = 1' >> /usr/local/share/kbd/caps_to_esc
loadkeys -q /usr/local/share/kbd/caps_to_esc


Bash and readline

Bash uses readline which supports a vi keymap. In bash you can enable it by issuing:

set -o vi

You can activate it for other applications using readline (like for example pimpd2 by placing this in your $HOME/.inputrc:

set editing-mode vi
set keymap vi-insert

See readline(3) for a full list of options. You can also take a peek at my inputrc.


Zsh doesn’t make use of readline since it got its own command line editor called zle. You can still put this in your shell resource file though:

set -o vi

Additionally, you can use the very powerful zle function bindkey to manipulate your keymaps. See

zle -l

for a full list of keymaps, or checkout mine. I use full vimbindings along with a subset of useful emacs bindings.

File management


All my file management needs is handled in the shell or in vidir. vidir isn’t a file manager plugin for vim; all the file management is handled in vim itself. A buffer is loaded with the content of a directory in a buffer. All operations that you perform on this buffer happens on the files themselves. You can use regular expressions, visual mode marks, custom functions and so on.

Simple example:

dd (delete linewise) will delete a line in the buffer, and when you :wq, that file will be deleted in the filesystem.



For a very long time, irssi was the only place where I couldn’t get vimbindings working. I had to use cursor keys and other evilness. Then, all of a sudden, shabble came along and saved the day (and my fingers) with his wonderful vim-mode plugin.

Make sure to check out his other scripts as well, there are some really nifty stuff in there.



Quite a sad story, really.

I used vimperator for many, many years. Along came pentadactyl which was supposed to be the successor, and I used it for a few years as well. Then, pentadactyl broke somehow and I went back to vimperator where development had started again.

Now, sadly, firefox changed their addon api in a way that renders all old addons obsolete and non-functional. Due to the complexity of vimperator, writing it again from scratch isn’t a task someone have been willing to take on.

There’s a few options today:

  • Use firefox =< 56 and vimperator.
  • Use a recent firefox and tridactyl.
  • Use Google chrome and Vimium.

I don’t like chrome so I use tridactyl which is ok.



The most feature-full cli mpd client that I know of. I also happened to write it. :)

It’s a command line client that also sports an interactive shell. That shell used readline, and using readline we get the vi keymap, remember?


ncmpcpp is a client built using c++ and ncurses. It features vim-like bindings fresh out of the box and is highly configurable.



On linux, the obvious choice for video is mplayer. Along with the mplayer config, an additional file can be used that specifies your input configuration. Here’s mine.


tig is a highly configurable ncurses git client with vim movement keys being the defaults.


For PDF viewing I use apvlv which is the least annoying PDF viewer I know of and it ‘works just like Vim’.