Vim is a powerful text editor available on almost all modern computing platforms. It is bundled in the default installation of most Linux distributions, though Ubuntu and Debian ship with the minimal version of Vim. The version lack features such as syntax highlighting, making it less robust or valuable as it could be.

To get the full benefit of Vim, you need to install its more feature-rich version. Ubuntu and Debian do provide such version of Vim in its default apt repository. You can install the full version of Vim on Ubuntu via apt at the terminal.

Step-by-step video guide:

Steps to install full version of Vim on Ubuntu and Debian variance:

  1. Open terminal from the application launcher or via the <ctrl> + <alt> + <t> keyboard shortcut.
  2. View list of enabled and disabled features of currently installed Vim.
    $ vi --version
    VIM - Vi IMproved 9.1 (2024 Jan 02, compiled Mar 31 2024 00:15:53)
    Included patches: 1-16
    Modified by team+vim@tracker.debian.org
    Compiled by team+vim@tracker.debian.org
    Tiny version without GUI.  Features included (+) or not (-):
    +acl               +file_in_path      -mouse_urxvt       -tcl
    -arabic            -find_in_path      +mouse_xterm       -termguicolors
    +autocmd           +float             +multi_byte        -terminal
    -autochdir         -folding           -multi_lang        +terminfo
    -autoservername    -footer            -mzscheme          +termresponse
    -balloon_eval      +fork()            -netbeans_intg     +textobjects
    -balloon_eval_term -gettext           +num64             -textprop
    -browse            -hangul_input      -packages          -timers
    ++builtin_terms    +iconv             +path_extra        +title
    -byte_offset       +insert_expand     -perl              -toolbar
    -channel           -ipv6              -persistent_undo   +user_commands
    +cindent           -job               -popupwin          -vartabs
    -clientserver      +jumplist          -printer           +vertsplit
    -clipboard         -keymap            -profile           +vim9script
    +cmdline_compl     -lambda            -python            -viminfo
    +cmdline_hist      -langmap           -python3           +virtualedit
    +cmdline_info      -libcall           -quickfix          +visual
    +comments          -linebreak         -reltime           +visualextra
    -conceal           +lispindent        -rightleft         +vreplace
    -cryptv            +listcmds          -ruby              +wildignore
    -cscope            +localmap          +scrollbind        +wildmenu
    +cursorbind        -lua               -signs             +windows
    -cursorshape       -menu              +smartindent       +writebackup
    -dialog            -mksession         -sodium            -X11
    -diff              +modify_fname      -sound             -xattr
    -digraphs          +mouse             -spell             +xfontset
    -dnd               -mouseshape        -startuptime       -xim
    -ebcdic            -mouse_dec         -statusline        -xpm
    -emacs_tags        -mouse_gpm         -sun_workshop      -xsmp
    -eval              -mouse_jsbterm     -syntax            -xterm_clipboard
    +ex_extra          -mouse_netterm     +tag_binary        -xterm_save
    -extra_search      +mouse_sgr         -tag_old_static
    -farsi             -mouse_sysmouse    -tag_any_white
       system vimrc file: "/etc/vim/vimrc"
         user vimrc file: "$HOME/.vimrc"
     2nd user vimrc file: "~/.vim/vimrc"
          user exrc file: "$HOME/.exrc"
           defaults file: "$VIMRUNTIME/defaults.vim"
      fall-back for $VIM: "/usr/share/vim"
    Compilation: gcc -c -I. -Iproto -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -Wdate-time -g -O2 -fno-omit-frame-pointer -mno-omit-leaf-frame-pointer -ffile-prefix-map=/build/vim-U10m2Q/vim-9.1.0016=. -flto=auto -ffat-lto-objects -fstack-protector-strong -fstack-clash-protection -Wformat -Werror=format-security -mbranch-protection=standard -fdebug-prefix-map=/build/vim-U10m2Q/vim-9.1.0016=/usr/src/vim-2:9.1.0016-1ubuntu7 -DSYS_VIMRC_FILE=\"/etc/vim/vimrc\" -DSYS_GVIMRC_FILE=\"/etc/vim/gvimrc\" -DTINY_VIMRC -DSYS_TINYRC_FILE=\"/etc/vim/vimrc.tiny\" -D_REENTRANT -U_FORTIFY_SOURCE -D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=1
    Linking: gcc -Wl,-Bsymbolic-functions -flto=auto -ffat-lto-objects -Wl,-z,relro -Wl,-z,now -Wl,--as-needed -o vim -lSM -lICE -lXt -lX11 -lXdmcp -lSM -lICE -lm -ltinfo -lselinux -lacl -lattr
  3. Remove vim-tiny which is the default installation package.
    $ sudo apt remove --assume-yes vim-tiny
    [sudo] password for user:
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree... Done
    Reading state information... Done
    The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer required:
      vim-common xxd
    Use 'sudo apt autoremove' to remove them.
    The following packages will be REMOVED:
      ubuntu-minimal vim-tiny
    0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 2 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
    After this operation, 1,868 kB disk space will be freed.
    (Reading database ... 154349 files and directories currently installed.)
    Removing ubuntu-minimal (1.539) ...
    Removing vim-tiny (2:9.1.0016-1ubuntu7) ...
  4. Update apt's package list.
    $ sudo apt update
    Hit:1 http://ports.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-ports noble InRelease
    Hit:2 http://ports.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-ports noble-updates InRelease
    Hit:3 http://ports.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-ports noble-backports InRelease
    Hit:4 http://ports.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-ports noble-security InRelease
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree... Done
    Reading state information... Done
    All packages are up to date.
  5. Install the full version of Vim.
    $ sudo apt install --assume-yes vim
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree... Done
    Reading state information... Done
    The following additional packages will be installed:
      libsodium23 vim-common vim-runtime xxd
    Suggested packages:
      ctags vim-doc vim-scripts
    The following NEW packages will be installed:
      libsodium23 vim vim-common vim-runtime xxd
    0 upgraded, 5 newly installed, 0 to remove and 1 not upgraded.
    Need to get 9,658 kB of archives.
    After this operation, 44.1 MB of additional disk space will be used.
    ##### snipped
  6. Verify package is successfully installed and view the list of enabled features.
    $ vi --version
    VIM - Vi IMproved 9.1 (2024 Jan 02, compiled Mar 31 2024 00:15:53)
    Included patches: 1-16
    Modified by team+vim@tracker.debian.org
    Compiled by team+vim@tracker.debian.org
    Huge version without GUI.  Features included (+) or not (-):
    +acl               +file_in_path      +mouse_urxvt       -tag_any_white
    +arabic            +find_in_path      +mouse_xterm       -tcl
    +autocmd           +float             +multi_byte        +termguicolors
    +autochdir         +folding           +multi_lang        +terminal
    -autoservername    -footer            -mzscheme          +terminfo
    -balloon_eval      +fork()            +netbeans_intg     +termresponse
    +balloon_eval_term +gettext           +num64             +textobjects
    -browse            -hangul_input      +packages          +textprop
    ++builtin_terms    +iconv             +path_extra        +timers
    +byte_offset       +insert_expand     -perl              +title
    +channel           +ipv6              +persistent_undo   -toolbar
    +cindent           +job               +popupwin          +user_commands
    -clientserver      +jumplist          +postscript        +vartabs
    -clipboard         +keymap            +printer           +vertsplit
    +cmdline_compl     +lambda            +profile           +vim9script
    +cmdline_hist      +langmap           -python            +viminfo
    +cmdline_info      +libcall           +python3           +virtualedit
    +comments          +linebreak         +quickfix          +visual
    +conceal           +lispindent        +reltime           +visualextra
    +cryptv            +listcmds          +rightleft         +vreplace
    +cscope            +localmap          -ruby              +wildignore
    +cursorbind        -lua               +scrollbind        +wildmenu
    +cursorshape       +menu              +signs             +windows
    +dialog_con        +mksession         +smartindent       +writebackup
    +diff              +modify_fname      +sodium            -X11
    +digraphs          +mouse             -sound             +xattr
    -dnd               -mouseshape        +spell             -xfontset
    -ebcdic            +mouse_dec         +startuptime       -xim
    +emacs_tags        +mouse_gpm         +statusline        -xpm
    +eval              -mouse_jsbterm     -sun_workshop      -xsmp
    +ex_extra          +mouse_netterm     +syntax            -xterm_clipboard
    +extra_search      +mouse_sgr         +tag_binary        -xterm_save
    -farsi             -mouse_sysmouse    -tag_old_static
       system vimrc file: "/etc/vim/vimrc"
         user vimrc file: "$HOME/.vimrc"
     2nd user vimrc file: "~/.vim/vimrc"
          user exrc file: "$HOME/.exrc"
           defaults file: "$VIMRUNTIME/defaults.vim"
      fall-back for $VIM: "/usr/share/vim"
    Compilation: gcc -c -I. -Iproto -DHAVE_CONFIG_H -Wdate-time -g -O2 -fno-omit-frame-pointer -mno-omit-leaf-frame-pointer -ffile-prefix-map=/build/vim-U10m2Q/vim-9.1.0016=. -flto=auto -ffat-lto-objects -fstack-protector-strong -fstack-clash-protection -Wformat -Werror=format-security -mbranch-protection=standard -fdebug-prefix-map=/build/vim-U10m2Q/vim-9.1.0016=/usr/src/vim-2:9.1.0016-1ubuntu7 -DSYS_VIMRC_FILE=\"/etc/vim/vimrc\" -DSYS_GVIMRC_FILE=\"/etc/vim/gvimrc\" -D_REENTRANT -U_FORTIFY_SOURCE -D_FORTIFY_SOURCE=1
    Linking: gcc -Wl,-Bsymbolic-functions -flto=auto -ffat-lto-objects -Wl,-z,relro -Wl,-z,now -Wl,--as-needed -o vim -lm -ltinfo -lselinux -lsodium -lacl -lattr -lgpm -L/usr/lib/python3.12/config-3.12-aarch64-linux-gnu -lpython3.12 -ldl -lm 

This guide is tested on Ubuntu:

Version Code Name
22.04 LTS Jammy Jellyfish
23.10 Mantic Minotaur
24.04 LTS Noble Numbat
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