BETA4 Vi backspace behavior

Bob Willcox bob at
Tue Sep 21 13:28:43 PDT 2004

On Tue, Sep 21, 2004 at 03:55:51PM -0400, Jason Andresen wrote:
> Bob Willcox wrote:
> >On Tue, Sep 21, 2004 at 06:40:41AM -0400, Mike B wrote:
> > 
> >
> >>Jeremy Chadwick wrote:
> >>>Do things work properly in vim (preferrably ports/editors/vim-lite) but
> >>>not native /usr/bin/vi, or are they generally horked all around?
> >>>
> >>You all are right about the behavior of vi, but the backspace in vim is 
> >>definitely broken. I've tried using the :fixdel command and also 
> >>remapping the key with :map but the result is always the same. Perhaps 
> >>this is a bug or incompatability that has arisen in vim; every other 
> >>text editor seems to work flawlessly. Thanks
> >>   
> >>
> >
> >FWI, all versions of vi that I've used over the past 20 years (I only
> >use vim when using Linux) had this behavior wrt the backspace key
> >(backing over but no erasing). This has been mostly on on AIX, ESIX, and
> >FreeBSD. So for me anyway, it's the "norm."
> > 
> >
> AFAIK, the "backspace as a motion key" behavior dates all the way back 
> to teletypes, because they were just typewriters with modems and they 
> didn't have any way of actually deleting characters on the line.  I 
> think this is also where the use of "x" as a delete character comes 
> from, people actually x-ing out words on their teletype.  
> Look on the bright side, your editor may have bizarre commands, but it 
> will still work even if you're stuck in the most primitive of editing 
> environments. 

I actually prefer the backspace w/o erasing the character behavior of
vi. Indeed, that's one (of several) differences with vim that I find
disturbing (using the "u" key for multi-undoing rather than re-doing is
my pet peave).


Bob Willcox             Acquaintance, n.:
bob at            A person whom we know well enough to borrow from,
Austin, TX                but not well enough to lend to.
                             -- Ambrose Bierce, "The Devil's Dictionary"

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