expandtab in vim 8 on Debian 9 not working

Posted: 2018-05-28 15:41:44 by Alasdair Keyes

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Last week I finished rolling out my new Debian 9 "Stretch" machines and noticed some peculiar behaviour in vim. Namely, my tabs were being kept as tabs and not converted automatically to spaces. We'll ignore the old "tabs vs. spaces" debate for the moment but I was struggling to see why my tried and tested vim config wasn't working.

My .vimrc file had the following lines

" Set tabs to 4 spaces
set shiftwidth=4
set ts=4
set expandtab

" Allow simple pasting and add ruler/linecounts
set paste

After some hunting I found the following article explaining the issue https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/vim/+bug/1576583

Debian 9 moves to vim version 8.0 and it seems that the behaviour of paste has changed so that it resets expandtab. All that's required is to move the set paste line before expandtab and you're back in business. Hopefully this might help someone else who has seen the same issues.

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© Alasdair Keyes

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