Pathogen has always been a very stable piece of software. It still works and will probably keep doing so for a long time, so there is no real hard need to look for an alternative, IMO.
Anyway, the wording in Pathogen's README is unfortunate because, just like Pathogen itself,
:help packages is not a proper "package management" solution. It would need the ability to download packages, handle dependency management, trigger builds, etc. for that, which it doesn't. It is just a new way to organize plugins that is more convenient than the old way. Just like Pathogen used to be.
And in many ways, the new system is a formalization of how Pathogen worked: you put your plugins in dedicated directories under a common root and you let Vim add those directories to
:help 'runtimepath'`. Therefore, migrating your setup from Pathogen to "packages" is very easy.
All you need to do is…
Remove any Pathogen-related lines from your
$ rm ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim
Create the necessary directory structure:
$ mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/bundle/start
And move the content of your
bundle directory to its new home:
$ mv ~/.vim/bundle ~/.vim/pack/bundle/start
- You can name the
bundle directory however you want. I kept
bundle, here, to make things more familiar.
:help packages carefully, specifically the part about optional packages.
- In this context,
bundle is a "package"—a number of plugins packaged together—, and you can have several of them, which is good for organization. For example, I still have a
bundle package (I switched from Pathogen, too) for my QOL plugins, but I also have a
lang package for all my programming language-related plugins, and a
lab package for my own experimental stuff.
If you actually want proper package management, the most popular plugin manager is currently vim-plug.