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GNU Emacs

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GNU Emacs is an extensible, customizable text editor—and more. At its core is an interpreter for Emacs Lisp, a dialect of the Lisp programming language with extensions to support text editing. The features of GNU Emacs include:

Emacs was originally implementated in 1976 on the MIT AI Lab's Incompatible Timesharing System (ITS), as a collection of TECO macros. The name “Emacs” was originally chosen as an abbreviation of “Editor MACroS”. For a longer explanation, as well as a brief history of Emacs, see the Emacs FAQ (html, plain text). This version of Emacs, GNU Emacs, was originally written in 1984 and is still actively developed.


Supported Platforms

Emacs 22 runs on these operating systems regardless of the machine type:

  • GNU/Linux
  • FreeBSD
  • AIX 4.3.3 and higher
  • Mac OS X
  • MS DOS
  • MS Windows
  • NetBSD
  • OpenBSD
  • Solaris
  • SunOS
  • Ultrix

GNU Emacs also supports several other operating systems, including Berkeley Unix (BSD) 4.1-4.4, Esix, Microport, SCO Unix, System V releases 0 to 4.0.4, Uniplus 5.2, and Xenix. There is code to support some older machine types that run special operating systems developed by the computer manufacturer (often a variant of Unix); however, in many cases we don't know whether they still work. The definitive reference for this is the MACHINES file, which is also distributed with GNU Emacs; this file also lists the special requirements for compiling GNU Emacs on these systems.

Obtaining/Downloading GNU Emacs

GNU Emacs can be obtained from, or from a GNU mirror.

The GNU Emacs development sources are available via a CVS repository hosted on See the Emacs project page for more details.


Mailing Lists

Finding packages for GNU Emacs

If you are looking for Emacs Lisp packages, check out the following resources:

Further Information

The Savannah Emacs page has additional information about Emacs, including CVS access to the Emacs development sources.

The Emacs Wiki is a community website which collects Emacs Lisp code, questions and answers related to Emacs Lisp code and style; introductions to Emacs Lisp packages and links to their sources; complete manuals or documentation fragments; comments on features, differences, and history of different Emacs versions, flavors, and ports; jokes; pointers to clones and Emacs look-alikes, as well as references to other Emacs related information on the Web.

We also have a copy of the 1981 paper by Richard Stallman, describing the design of the original Emacs and the lessons to be learned from it.

There is also a transcript of a speech, My Lisp Experiences and the Development of GNU Emacs given by Richard Stallman at the International Lisp Conference on 28 Oct 2002.

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