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Nano Basics Guide


1. Nano Basics


This guide was written to cover basic operations in nano, and is meant to be very concise. For more information about nano check out:

Opening and creating files 

Opening and creating files is simple in nano, simply type:

Code Listing 1.1

# nano filename

Nano is a modeless editor so you can start typing immediately to insert text. If you are editing a configuration file like /etc/fstab use the -w switch, for example:

Code Listing 1.2

# nano -w /etc/fstab

Warning: It is very, very important that you use the -w switch when opening a config file. Failure to do so may keep your system from booting or other bad things.

Saving and exiting 

If you want to save the changes you've made, press Ctrl+O. To exit nano, type Ctrl+X. If you ask nano to exit a modified file, it will ask you if you want to save it. Just press N in case you don't, or Y in case you do. It will then ask you for a filename. Just type it in and press Enter.

If you accidentally confirmed that you want to save the file, but you actually don't, you can always cancel by pressing Ctrl+C when you're prompted for a filename.

Cutting and pasting 

To cut a single line line you use ^K. You simply hold down CTRL and k at the same time. The line dissapears. To paste it you simply move the cursor to where you want to paste and punch ^U (CTRL u) on your keyboard. BAM! The line reapears. Suppose you need to move a whole paragraph. To move multiple lines simply cut each line one at a time, and then paste. BAM! The whole paragraph appears wherever you want it.

If you need a little more fine grained control then you need to mark the text. Move the cursor to the beginning of the text you want to cut. Hit ^^ (that's ctrl ^ or ctrl 6). Now move your cursor to the end of the text you want to cut. The desired text should be highlighted now. If need to cancel your text marking simply hit ^^ again. Click ^K to cut the text. Use ^U to paste it. BAM! Now that's cooking.

Searching for text 

Searching for a string is easy as long as you think "WhereIs" instead of "Search". Simple hit ^W (CTRL w) and type in your search string. Like I said, easy.

More options 

If you're interested in tweaking nano, be sure to read /etc/nanorc.

Wrap up 

That is all! Thanks to kiyose and quazion from #gentoo. Again, for more information about nano check out:

Updated August 05, 2004
Sherman Boyd
Gentoo Doc Editor

Sven Vermeulen

Summary: This is a simple introduction to nano. To get you familiar with it's basic functions, fast.
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Copyright 2001-2004 Gentoo Foundation, Inc. Questions, Comments, Corrections? Email [email protected].