I have been ssh-ing into servers/vm’s recently and been editing things. Installing my dotfiles was a pain.

This is my attempt at making a set of viable slim config files, aimed specifically at what I might require when ssh-ing into a remote server.

First post was getting quite long so I’m going to split it up into parts. This article will be about vim.

The full files are on github


Elflord colour scheme

I’m a heavy Vim user. Specifically console Vim. It’s at the hub of my development environment in the terminal. I have spent many an hour heavily modifying this program to do more or less exactly what I want it to do. Some of this time was spent configuring settings, creating keyboard mappings, researching and trying out third party plugins, and even writing a few of plugins of my own. My .vimrc is monolithically large.

However the use case here is much more temporal with a focus on a quick set up, minimal side effects, and easy tear down.

I won’t go line by line through my configuration as there is a lot of common/preferential things, but only highlight the things that are interesting.

Note: I looked long and hard at my plugin list, and decided that pretty much all of them I can live without. Specifically the biggest barrier was the cost of implementing or installing a plugin manager, and no single plugin added enough value to warrant paying it. If I was to utilise plugins (and I might later), my list would probably look something like this: nerdcommenter, endwise, surround, and targets.

let g:nicwest_remote = 1
let g:nicwest_os = 'linux'

I’m thinking of adding some form of colour coding to both vim and tmux so can identify what machine I’m on regardless of content/hostname.

Similarly I’m not going to waste time working out what type of system I’m on, changing this when I need to work on a specific type of machine will be simple. 99% of the time this will be a machine running linux.

set background=dark
colorscheme elflord
hi Pmenu ctermfg=15
hi PmenuSel ctermfg=15
hi Folded ctermbg=8

Elflord seems like a colour scheme that I don’t hate. I did however have to fix a couple of highlight groups that had poor legibility with my terminal colours.

set noundofile
set nobackup 
set noswapfile

This one might be slightly questionable. Here is my thought process. If I ever found my self in a situation where I was able to do catastrophic and irreversible damage to a system simply by editing a single text file, then I think I would recognise this and make sure I had a manual and off server backup. Second I don’t want to litter files all over the system. I was thinking that there might even be a privacy/security side to this argument, but instead I’m going to err of the side of tidiness.

nnoremap <c-b> :buffers<CR>

I have included a few personal key bindings in this config, but this is the only one that might need some explanation. I have decided against including any file manager plugins (such as nerdtree, unite or ctrlp). I see Vim being used here as method of editing files in situ which will mean that the majority of the time I see my self passing the file name(s) as arguments when starting the program. If multiple files have been opened after vim started, or even with wildcards (vim ./*), this is a quick short cut to show how to bring up target files.

command! -bang Fuck if "<bang>" == "!" |
      \ execute 'w !sudo tee > /dev/null %' |
      \ echohl WarningMsg |
      \ echo 'PEWPEW! SUDO!' |
      \ echohl None |
      \ endif

Finally because I always forget it; here is the command to let you save as root when you forget to start the program under sudo. :Fuck will do nothing, :Fuck! will do the dirty.


I have been actively using this config for the last few days for preping some ansible set ups in vagrant. I’m actually surprised how much of a difference this makes. Just having the few sanity settings and a few familiar binds makes editing super comfortable.

One thing I have noticed that I’m missing the commenting functionality I got from nerdcommenter. It’s not really big enough to install the plugin, but I might take a look at implementing something light and similar later.