In this tutorial, we are going to see how to use the Terminal on Ubuntu to change the default text editor used by your system to edit files (config files, txt files, etc.). The tutorial is tested under Ubuntu 11.04, but it is also applicable on older Ubuntu versions (10.10/10.04, etc.).

Open the Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T) and run this command to display available text editors:

sudo update-alternatives --config editor

You will get this:

~$ sudo update-alternatives --config editor

There are 3 choices for the alternative editor (providing /usr/bin/editor).

  Selection    Path               Priority   Status
* 0            /bin/nano           40        auto mode
  1            /bin/ed            -100       manual mode
  2            /bin/nano           40        manual mode
  3            /usr/bin/vim.tiny   10        manual mode

Press enter to keep the current choice[*], or type selection number:

Select any other text editor of your choice by typing its selection number displayed in the given list, then confirm by pressing Enter. The asterisk (*) displayed in front of the selection means that the text editor is the default text editor used by your system.

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