I have not kept up with vim in the last decade. I have had my setup and it worked well enough that I have not bothered touching my configuration in forever.

BUT. I have the need to get back into some programming and want to see if what I need to update. The first thing is package management. I currently use pathogen it now has a git page!. This project looks like it has not been updated in 5 years and even the home page suggest I use built-in package management.

Any suggestions of package management specifically for C++ programmer (and how to convert from pathogen). :-)

2 Answers 2


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…

  1. Remove any Pathogen-related lines from your vimrc:

    $ vim
    :e $MYVIMRC
  2. Remove pathogen.vim from ~/.vim/autoload:

    $ rm ~/.vim/autoload/pathogen.vim
  3. Create the necessary directory structure:

    $ mkdir -p ~/.vim/pack/bundle/start
  4. 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.
  • Read :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.

  • Thanks for the extended info. Sep 23, 2023 at 17:33
  1. Vim "plugin" is simply a collection of scripts lying under one of &runtimepath nodes.

  2. Therefore it is possible to merge any "plugin" under your ~/.vim/ directory tree and it will work right away.

  3. However, your ~/.vim/ will then become a total mess.

  4. Instead of this, you can add whole "plugin" tree as a node into &runtimepath

  5. People are too lazy to populate list of directories manually, so "pathogen" was invented. Basically, you call a single function and &runtimepath gets flooded by many nodes at once.

  6. But this thought to be too hard, so now "pathogen" is a builtin called :help packages. That is, you copy (or symlink) all your plugins under ~/.vim/pack/*/start/ (or any other node under &packpath) and they all magically get to &runtimepath on startup.

  7. This is still too hard for some of us, as we still need to type $ git pull etc. by hand. So there are also multiple "plugin managers" that can execute git many times and show the output in a nice fashion. Personally, I use minpac but they all more or less similar. All you need is to $ git clone one of them and follow the instructions.

  • Thanks you. Very helpful. Sep 23, 2023 at 17:33

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