If you want to make JupyterLab more Vim-like, you can use Vim key bindings and install the jupyterlab-vim extension.

1. Vim Key Bindings

The notebook UI has the option to use Vim, Emacs, or the default key mappings. The documentation shows how.

In my Docker image I create a json file to hard code these settings:

File jupyter-codemirror-settings.json:

{
  "keyMap": "vim"
}

Dockerfile:

## previous setup - base image, working directory, etc.

## copy custom Jupyter Lab settings
COPY ./jupyter-codemirror-settings.json /root/.jupyter/lab/user-settings/@jupyterlab/codemirror-extension/commands.jupyterlab-settings

2. jupyterlab-vim

The tool is available as an extension. You need JupyterLab 1.0 or higher.

Installation (via terminal):

jupyter labextension install jupyterlab_vim

Now you can use the familiar set of key mappings inside the notebook cells.