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Installing Emacs from Source on Ubuntu

Essential Libraries

I decided to install emacs from source on Ubuntu. It turns out, installing emacs from source is relatively easy. First, make sure you install support for compiling code and info files.

sudo aptitude install texinfo build-essential

Then, assuming you want to have support for images, there are quiet a few libraries necessary for png, gif, jpeg…

sudo aptitude install libdbus-1-dev libgconf2-dev libgif-dev libgpm-dev libgtk2.0-dev libjpeg62-dev libm17n-dev libncurses5-dev libotf-dev librsvg2-dev libtiff4-dev libXpm-dev

This far, I have to thank for saving me from having to hunt down the names of all of the graphics libraries.

Getting the Source

Then, I cloned the source for the latest from and followed the build the instructions in INSTALL.

 1:  git clone git://
 2:  cd emacs
 3:  ./configure
 4:  make bootstrap
 5:  make
 6:  src/emacs -q ;; This checks that it built properly
 7:  sudo make install
 8:  mv /usr/local/bin/emacs-24.0.50 /usr/local/bin/emacs24
 9:    ;; Change the number to whatever the version is, I moved it to a more convienent name
10:  emacs24 -q

You should now be able to run the latest version of emacs.

Fixing the your .emacs

If you leave out the -q option, you may notice errors when emacs tries to load your .emacs. First, if aby libraries you use defun* or any other functions for cl, make sure you load it.

1:  (require 'cl)

It won't load emacs-goodies-el or any other. The only reason for this, is that the newly built emacs doesn't know where Ubuntu keeps them. (hint: not where emacs expects them) The fix is easy, just add it and all of the directories in it to the load-path.

1:  (add-to-list 'load-path "/usr/share/emacs/site-lisp")
2:    (mapcar '(lambda (dir)
3:                      (add-to-list 'load-path (concat "/usr/share/emacs/site-lisp/" dir)))
4:            (cddr (directory-files "/usr/share/emacs/site-lisp")))


The only problem I currently having is color-theme.el which doesn't seem to be working properly. I'm still working on it… Any other problems?

Posted on 05 November 2010 in emacs ubuntu

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