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4 months ago

Neovim configuration with Lua

A Neovim configuration using Lua, with the minimal number of pluggins I need for programming. Different language servers available through the LSP protocol provide code completion and analysis.

This readme exist so I don't have to remember how to do all these things when setting up a new machine.

Setting up

Notice that Neovim doesn't have a full release version number yet. This is because it is undergoing rapid development and older versions could be incompatible with some plugins. The latest version can always be installe using the instructions below depending on your operating system.


# For stable versions
sudo snap install --beta nvim --classic

# For nightly versions
sudo snap install --edge nvim --classic

We also need to install the node package manager npm since most language servers are installed that way.

sudo apt install npm


Assume brew is installed, then installing Neovim is straighforward:

# For stable version
brew install neovim

# for nightly version
brew install --HEAD neovim

# To update
brew reinstall neovim

Additionally, you may need to configure the Option key to behave like Alt. In iTerm2, this can be done in Preferences -> Profiles -> Keys. Change the left option behaviour to Esc+. For kitty, you need to set macos_option_as_alt left (defualt is no) in the terminal's config file. Restarting the terminal (Command + Q, then restart) is required for this to take effect.

Installing the configuration

Clone the repo into Neovim's installation folder (usually /home/<usr>/.config/nvim):

git clone ~/.config/nvim
cd ~/.config/nvim

This will create a folder with the configuration with the following structure is as follows:

|- lua
|  |- lsp/
|  |- plugins/
|  |- keymaps.lua
|  |- options.lua
|  |- plugins.lua
|  |- theme.lua
|  \- utils.lua
|- plugin/
\- init.lua

This structure is important since Lua will not load files that are not located inside lua. The file init.lua loads all the modules located inside this folder to set the configuration. Most of the names are self explanatory. The most important file here is plugins.lua, which is the module that loads the relevant plugins. Some of the most important plugins are:

  1. packer: Manage the plugins.
  2. lspconfig: provides a client for the different language servers using the Language Server Protocol (LSP).
  3. cmp: Auto-complete functionality. Recommended by the core Neovim team.
  4. treesitter: Syntax highlighting and other functionality.
  5. NvimTree: File explorer written in Lua.
  6. fugitive: The best plugin for git.
  7. gitsigns: Git gutter highlighting and hunk management in buffer.
  8. telescope: Fuzzy finder.
  9. lualine: A status line written in Lua which is similar to vim-airline.

There are some more packages that are dependencies of the ones mentioned above, and some for formatting and theming as well. Adding new plugins is simple using the use function:

  config = function() require('<plugin-name>').setup({}) end,

This will load a plugin with it's standard configuration. For more complex configurations, we create the relevant file in lua/plugins (eg. lua/plugins/foo.lua) and load it using the require function along with any other option we wish to pass on to the use function:

  config = function() require('plugin/<plugin-name>') end,
  -- Optionally require other plugins.
  requires = '<author>/<required-plugin-repo>'
  -- Other functionality

Notice that the file type is omitted from this call.


The auto-complete functionality is achieved by using nvim-cmp to attach the relevant language servers to the buffers containing code. Most servers only require that the on attach function is specified so that different motions are available. Currently, the common function to attach a server to a buffer is located in lua/lsp/utils.lua . It will enable common key mappings for all language servers to display code completion.

The second part is installing the language servers themselves (described below) and enabling them. :LspInstall can be used if nvim-lsp-installer is found. Others may require manual installation. There is an extra step which involves installing the binaries for these servers, which we describe below.

Installing the language servers

Binaries for each language servers must be installed from their relevant repo. Most servers are installed using npm install, but others like clangd and sumneko for Lua require more involved procedures. Here is a list of servers and installation methods. These should work both on bash and zsh.

  • Bash: bashls

    npm i -g bash-language-server
  • C/C++: clangd May have to try several versions, but 13 is the latest one. I am using 12 and 9 or 8 should be available.

    sudo apt-get install clangd-13

    Then we must make it the default clangd (example with clangd-13):

    sudo update-alternatives --install /usr/bin/clangd clangd /usr/bin/clangd-13 100

    NOTE: On MacOS clang is installed through XCode, and you probably don't need to do anything else. You can check this by running clang --version from the terminal.

  • Docker: dockerls

    npm i -g dockerfile-language-server-nodejs
  • Julia: julials

    julia --project=~/.julia/environments/nvim-lspconfig -e 'using Pkg; Pkg.add("LanguageServer")'
  • JSON: jsonls

    npm i -g vscode-langservers-extracted
  • Lua: lua_ls

    Notice that the old sumneko_lua server is now deprecated. The version available now is lua_ls which is much easier to install (and also doesn't seem to funnel telemetry data to a remote server by default).

    brew install lua-language-server
  • Python: pyright:

    npm i -g pyright
  • YAML: yamlls

    This install requires yarn to work

    yarn global add yaml-language-server

    For MacOS use brew:

    brew install yaml-language-server

If a module complains about the verion of node being too old (pyright will do this), then run the following:

sudo npm cache clean -f
sudo npm install -g n
sudo n stable

Make sure to use the -g on all npm installs, otherwise the server won't be found.

Some further notes

Inline error messages are disabled in the current configuration. They create a lot of clutter. To enable them back, comment the code on line 34 of lua/options.lua. This is a nvim option related to it's lsp interface, not something provided by the servers themselves.

Web-dev Icons

To visualize fancy icons and separators, a patched font must be installed. Nerd Fonts has many already patched and offers instructions on how to create new ones (I don't recommend). To install a patched font follow these instructions:

  1. Head to the repo and download the font. I use Robot Mono.
  2. Copy the file to the relevant folder:
  • Linux: ~/.local/share/fonts/.
  • MacOS: /Library/Fonts'.
  1. Change the font in the terminal emulator's settings to the patched font.

Nerd Fonts with Kitty

If using kitty as default terminal, then the procedure above won't work. First, kitty does not support non-monospaced fonts due to how it renders text. Second, the fonts cannot be patched. In fact, kitty takes care of patching on it's own which is great. To install the fonts follow the instructions in this blog, which are straighforward.

TL;DR for MacOS:

  1. Download and install the fonts and put the file Symbols-2048-em Nerd Font Complete.tff (or whatever subset you decide to use) in the Library/Fonts/ folder for system wide use, or the local variant.
  2. If the glyphs aren't displayed by default, then they can be specified manually by following the instructions.
  3. Refresh the fonts cache.


Some pluggins to try:


I've stolen code from different sources which means it might be hard to acknowledge all of them explicitly though most of them are from the associated plugin's documentation.