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How Do you Find and Replace Expressions in VI Editor

February 29th, 2012 by elizar

One and for all, let’s do this again.. how do you do the find and replace function of the Vi editor? I keep on coming back to Google for the syntax but at least I know that there is an ‘s’ in the beginning of the command and a ‘g’ at the end (for Global search). :)

Anyway, a little background before i copy paste the information here. I first taught myself how to use Vi during my ‘first’ job as a systems engineer in NEC TNCSi. Actually, my UNix foundation was all from NEC. Not that they train me how to be a unix admin, but I learned and taught myself how to do it. I read books that were lying around there and build samba servers, qmail and email servers and stuff until I got the ropes, the ins and outs of the UNix environment (Actually, I was using Linux – Redhat).

How Do You Find and Replace Text in Vi?

To perform a global search and replace in vi, use the search and replace command in command mode:

:%s/search_string/replacement_string/g

The % is a shortcut that tells vi to search all lines of the file for search_string and change it to replacement_string. The global ( g ) flag at the end of the command tells vi to continue searching for other occurrences of search_string . To confirm each replacement, add the confirm ( c ) flag after the global flag.

For this latest usage, i need to change the shell for all the users who are using /bin/ksh to a safeword sid shell.

remember to use the ‘slash’ character if you are filtering actually backslash.. You do not want to misinterpret the ‘/’ character by vi.

so, that’s

:%s/\/bin\/ksh/\/bin\/sid/g

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