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My journey into administering Linux from a Windows PC continues. Today’s challenge is to edit configuration files such as .htaccess.

There are several options;

  • If you have installed Webmin you can use the nice graphical UI over ssh.
  • You can use WinSCP over ssh to edit locally on your PC using Notepad and then synchronise (very fast)
  • You can edit it at the command prompt in the console,

Best console editor for infrequent users

I prefer to use “nano” which is a commonly installed WYSIWYG editor with a helpful menu bar at the bottom. The big advantage of nano is that the infrequent user does not have to remember how to use it. You can get help by pressing Ctrl + g.


  • nano only allows you to cut and paste whole lines
  • all commands use lower case letters e.g. Ctrl + g, not Ctrl + G, as indicated


A more powerful editor with easily forgotten commands is “vi” (or its more recent version “vim”) which is found in most Linux distros. It is a modal editor with “command mode” and “insert mode” (cheat sheet).  Unfortunately it is not WYSIWYG and the screen does not always update when you press the “backspace” key having made a typing mistake (press “ESC” to return to Command Mode and refresh the screen) and this can make it difficult to use.

A third editor in the same league as vi is EMACS which stands for Emacs is Mainly Used by Aged Computer Scientists.