vi: Terminal too wide

Workaround for vi “Terminal too wide” problem

Use the Unix command line and sooner or later, you will be editing text files. One of the best ways of doing that is with the vi editor. It is available as standard on almost every unix/linux system. While other editors are available (ed, emacs, vim, etc), vi is quick and convenient. It offers a good balance between usability and ubiquity.

This article offers a workaround for the annoying “Terminal too wide” problem encountered by vi users on Solaris.

Vi was originally written for screens (terminals) which were 80 characters wide. In a modern windowing environment, the terminal has been replaced by virtual terminal apps – xterm, lterm, Terminal and many others. The width of a virtual terminal depends on how much big you make the window. On a large screen it could easily be 200 characters or more. Continue reading

Sorting with "-k" on Unix and Linux

The “sort” command on Solaris has a “-k” switch for sorting by a particular field. For example, “sort -k 2” will sort by the second field on each line of input. Parts of fields can be further specified with “-k n.m“, says the man page.

For example, “sort -k 2.3” should sort by the second field, starting with the third character in that field. But the man page isn’t the clearest, and getting the “-k x.y” notation to work is tricky. Tricky until you realize it never works you also supply the “-b” argument. Same on Linux. Continue reading