Being Productive With Emacs:

Installing Emacs

Phil Sung <>

There are two major varieties of Emacs in use today, GNU Emacs and XEmacs. I use GNU Emacs.

GNU Emacs 23.1 was released on 29 July 2009.

GNU Emacs 23 has numerous new features, including being able to open frames on multiple TTYs (and TTYs and X displays simultaneously), better Unicode support, anti-aliased fonts, D-Bus support, support for reading PDF and PostScript files, and support for many new version control systems in VC.

If you notice any inaccurate or outdated information below, a quick note would be much appreciated.

Installing Emacs on GNU/Linux

The "GTK" versions go well with GTK-based desktop environments such as GNOME and XFCE. In Emacs 23+, GTK support is activated by default and you do not need a separate -gtk package.

DistributionGNU Emacs 23+/CVSGNU Emacs 23.1GNU Emacs 22.x
Debian lenny
Repository info N/A apt-get install emacs22
or emacs22-gtk
Debian squeeze/sid
Repository info apt-get install emacs23 apt-get install emacs22
or emacs22-gtk
Ubuntu 8.04
Ubuntu 8.10
See ubuntu-elisp PPA
N/A apt-get install emacs22
or emacs22-gtk
Ubuntu 9.04 See ubuntu-elisp PPA
See ubuntu-elisp PPA
apt-get install emacs22
or emacs22-gtk
Ubuntu 9.10 See ubuntu-elisp PPA
apt-get install emacs23 apt-get install emacs22
or emacs22-gtk
Fedora 8
Fedora 9
Fedora 10
N/A (Pre-v23 snapshots)
RPM info—see sidebar
yum install emacs
Fedora 11
Fedora 12
N/A yum install emacs N/A
Gentoo emerge =app-editors/emacs-cvs emerge =app-editors/emacs-23* emerge =app-editors/emacs-22*

Notes and References

The package web sites below will contain the most up-to-date information for your distribution. Some important caveats are also listed below.

Debian package reference: emacs23, emacs22, emacs21. Romain Francoise provides the emacs-snapshot packages for Debian. Note that the official Debian packages do not include the Emacs manuals and other documentation.
Ubuntu package reference: emacs22, emacs-snapshot. Be sure the universe component is enabled (although it should be, by default). The emacs-snapshot PPA for Ubuntu contains snapshots which may be newer than those in the official Ubuntu repositories.
Fedora package reference: emacs. Information about unofficial Emacs-CVS RPMs.
Gentoo package reference: emacs-cvs, emacs

On GNU/Linux it is also fairly straightforward to build emacs from source.

Installing Emacs on Windows

GNU provides precompiled Emacs binaries for Windows. Download either the package labeled bin or barebin. (barebin omits the elisp source files.) Then read the installation instructions. For more information, read the Windows FAQ.

EmacsW32 is a set of patches for GNU Emacs which changes its behavior in some ways to make it integrate better with Windows. EmacsW32 supplies an installer which will help you install both GNU Emacs as well as (optionally) EmacsW32 itself.

Emacs is also packaged for setup and use within Cygwin, if you are using that.

Installing Emacs on Mac OS

Mac OS X Leopard and Snow Leopard (10.5 and 10.6) ship with a console-only version of GNU Emacs 22 (versions through 10.4 ship with Emacs 21). Run it by typing emacs in a terminal.

Carbon Emacs (based on Emacs 22.3 or a later snapshot) provides a native look and feel for Emacs on Mac OS.

Aquamacs is an Emacs variant which is based on GNU Emacs and changes the look-and-feel, keymap, and some features to make it more consistent with other Mac applications.

I release the material on this page into the public domain.