The .vimrc DotFile contains Vim commands executed upon startup and allows you to tweak the editor's behaviour in a myriad of ways. Here is a minimal collection of some sensible non-default settings.

set nocompatible                " don't emulate vanilla vi faithfully, to break its limitations
set incsearch                   " Enable incremental searching by default
set showmatch                   " Highlight the matches of the last search
set backspace=2                 " allow backspacing over everything in insert mode
set autoindent                  " always set autoindenting on
set textwidth=0                 " Don't wrap words by default
set ts=4                        " Change tab spacing to a lower value (default=8)
set encoding=utf-8              " you really should be using utf-8 now
set termencoding=utf-8          " ditto
"set fileencodings=utf-8,latin1 " use utf-8, fall back to latin1 if invalid bytes are found
set fileencodings=              " don't do any encoding conversion (otherwise munges binary files)
syntax on                       " enable syntax highlighting for many languages
set background=dark             " better syntax colours for black terminals
if exists(":filetype")          " newer versions of Vim support more intelligent filetype determination
    filetype plugin indent on
    runtime ftplugin/man.vim    " to always have :Man available