Edit Text Files in Linux

This virtual lab, Edit Text Files in Linux, created by IT Pro Challenge, provides an overview of text editor commands to create, modify, manage, and delete written instructions in Vim and Nano. System administrators gain comfortableness with the tools needed to modify configurations to Linux applications and resources.

45 minutes
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This lab challenges learners to use Vim and Nano file editors and their shortcuts and commands to grasp or review Linux basics. Learners create and change directories, as well as start, edit, save, and remove text files. This lab runs for 45 minutes and targets an intermediate skill level. However, the learner may reveal hints. These guides appear throughout the lab, describing commands, and giving examples to complete each exercise.

System administrators need the skills in this lab to modify Linux configuration. Administrators may have to adjust Linux application settings on the fly to provision a machine, secure an application, or allow another user to access a file. To do this requires comfortableness in retrieving and reviewing files, in addition to inserting changes.

Also, learners benefit using a text editor by knowing how to work with systems relying on written commands. For example, many banks and other financial institutions use mainframe systems, originally built decades ago. Comfortably and adeptly entering and running actions in such an older based computing environment make the system administrator more valuable to IT.

Create Text Files Using Vim:

Vim stands for VI improved, an updated version of an outdated text editing Linux program. VI refers to a visual interface. The Create Text Files Using VIM exercises teaches a powerful editing tool, popular among Linux users, free and extensible. VIM can be more challenging to learn, as it has sparse visual prompts and less accessible but thorough help documentation.

In introducing VIM to the learner, this virtual lab provides a small table containing essential and frequently used commands, that can be copied and pasted for future VIM use. This chart details the command and what it does. Most importantly, learners get additional practice in switching between a text file insertion mode and the command mode.

Create Text Files Using Nano:

Nano, although packing less of a punch than VIM, provides a more user-friendly interface to edit configuration files. In Nano, users can easily see shortcuts and commands at the bottom of the screen, every time Nano opens. A visual picture of these main Nano commands also appears at the end of the hint for this portion.

The virtual lab also points out that the ^K (Cut text) and ^U (Uncut) replicate and rearrange lines easily. In this section, learners have hands-on experience using these shortcuts, among other keyboard tricks.

Manage Text Files:

Learners manage files through the command mode. The section’s hint shows the instruction needed to be entered by the computer and the expected result. So, the learner, by uncovering the hint, can check his or her work. This virtual lab also introduces “touch,” a means in Linux, to create a file with no content or to update a file’s timestamp without making an actual edit. This functionality comes in handy when triggering, without modifying, a file needs at a particular time or as a script troubleshooting technique.


Learners, who complete the lab, gain practice and understanding of Linux fundamentals to manipulate and manage files. Also, participants get an overview of two Linux editors and some handy functions to have on hand as they administer systems and edit configuration files. The learner has completed three sections.

    • Used Vim to create files and enter content.
    • Used Nano to create files and enter content.
    • Used file management commands to administer files.

To enhance Linux skills, the learner may wish to consider other lab challenges.

  • GUIDED CHALLENGE – Backup and Restore Files Using Tar in Linux

  • ADVANCED CHALLENGE - Can You Manage Directories and Files in Linux?