I would really like it to be vi or vim. I mistakenly typed some vi commands in the default editor for visudo, which I believe is nano, and broke /etc/sudoers so badly I think I am going to have to burn a new image and start over.

I've been able to run visudo again by doing pkexec bash but I broke something in the default line entry and I haven't been able to repair it correctly and sudo won't run.

  • 1
    Side note: mcedit is a nice alternative if you don't actually want to remember vim/nano/emacs shortcuts Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 12:54

2 Answers 2


You can set the system editor by calling as root:

update-alternatives --set editor /usr/bin/vim.tiny

You have to install vim first.

This will change the editor globally, not just for visudo.

  • For a handy TUI to select from a list, run update-alternatives --config editor Commented Aug 16, 2019 at 19:17

If you want to change this only temporarily, run

EDITOR=vim visudo

as root (else sudo EDITOR=vim visudo). To make vim the default editor for visudo but nothing else, you can put

alias visudo='EDITOR=vim visudo'

into your ~/.alias or ~/.bashrc.

  • 1
    EDITOR=vim sudo visudo does not work as expected since sudo by default drops all env variables for security reasons. (I was simply trying out the commands).
    – mirk
    Commented Mar 11, 2013 at 20:36
  • 2
    @mirk My bad, sudo belongs in front of the whole line Commented Mar 12, 2013 at 7:47

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