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Lisp interface code between Emacs and gnuserv --- IN ATTIC BECAUSE: mirror: obsolete use emacsclient
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This is gnuserv 3.12 for GNU Emacs, available via:


gnuserv allows you to attach to an already running Emacs.  This allows
external programs to make use of Emacs' editing capabilities.  It is
like GNU Emacs' emacsserver/server.el, but has many more features.

This is a standalone release of gnuserv for GNU Emacs, requiring
compatibility code (gnuserv-compat.el) to make it work.  It has been
tested under GNU Emacs 19.34, 20.7, 21.3.  Note that this version of
gnuserv requires the newer style of Emacs customisation stuff that
comes with Emacs 20 or higher.  It might work with the unbundled
version of custom for Emacs 19
(  Also, a hack has been
added to do a simple emulation of the customisation stuff under 19.34
if custom.el can't be loaded.

Note that creating a frame on a tty (via "gnuclient -nw ...") does not
work.  GNU Emacs doesn't support this functionality.

Note that if you run XEmacs then you do not need this package, because
gnuserv comes bundled with XEmacs.  Also, if you have XEmacs
installed, but want to use gnuserv under GNU Emacs (for some strange
reason) then all you need is gnuserv-compat.el (and probably
devices.el).  You can just make a link from your GNU Emacs site-lisp
directory to gnuserv.el in your XEmacs installation.


* gnuserv.el, supporting C programs and manual page, from XEmacs
  21.5.17 (

* devices.el is from the w3 4.0pre.39 distribution.

* Most of the other stuff (configure/make stuff, installation
  utilities, README.orig) is from Noah Friedman's fgnuserv package.  I
  removed a patch for Emacs 18 from the distribution because it'd be
  quite difficult to make this version of gnuserv.el work with Emacs

What did I do?

* Added gnuserv-compat.el to make gnuserv.el work with GNU Emacs.

* Tweaked the configure/make stuff to make it work for the this
  version of gnuserv.  Added some configure options, borrowed some
  configure stuff from XEmacs.

* Minor changes/bug fixes to gnuclient.c, gnuslib.c and gnuserv.h:

  - A tweak of the #include for config.h in gnuserv.h.

  - Checks added to gnuserv.h for Internet domain sockets, Unix domain
    sockets and SYSV IPC, as handled by configure.  Removed choice of
    default, since people shouldn't get things that they've configured

  - Slight modifications to gnuclient.c and gnuslib.c so that they
    compile if only one of INTERNET_DOMAIN_SOCKETS,
    UNIX_DOMAIN_SOCKETS and SYSV_IPC is defined.


Simple instructions:

  make install

This configures the gnuserv compilation process for your system,
compiles C programs, and installs binaries, scripts and manual pages
(under /usr/local).  Please see INSTALL for details of how to
customise things like installation paths.

The current installation process doesn't install the elisp files,
although it does byte-compile them.  You should copy them to your
site-lisp directory.  Then add an autoload, as described in
gnuserv-compat.el, to your ~/.emacs file or your
site-lisp/site-start.el file.

Known problems

* SYSV_IPC version seems to crash under Linux (Debian GNU/Linux with
  libc6 2.2.5-14.1, GNU Emacs 21.2.90, and Linux 2.4.19 kernel).

  That is, if I say:

    ./configure --disable-internet-domain-sockets --disable-unix-domain-sockets

  everything compiles, but gnuclient SEGVs when I try to run it.  I
  backtracked and tried the previous version of gnuserv I had packaged
  and found that it no longer compiles with just SYSV_IPC, due to
  changes in system header files (and that's where my search for an
  answer to this problem ends for now!  ;-).

  If you have any clues on the cause of the SEGV, please let me know.

  This works OK again under Linux (Debian GNU/Linux with libc6
  2.3.2.ds1-18, GNU Emacs 21.3, and Linux 2.6.9 kernel).

* Linking problems:
  If you experience unresolved symbols at link time this may be
  because you have installed GCC but are using the native linker that
  was bundled with your operating system (instead of the one from GNU
  binutils).  This means that GCC's C preprocessor is able to find
  header files in /usr/local/include, but the native linker is not
  able to find libraries in /usr/local/lib.
  A possible solution to this is to set LDFLAGS to "-L/usr/local/lib"
  before running "./configure".  If you're using a Bourne-compatible
  shell, you can do:
    LDFLAGS="-L/usr/local/lib" ./configure [options]
  Alternatively, something like:
    env LDFLAGS="-L/usr/local/lib" ./configure [options]
  works with many systems/shells.

  Note that you will need to do a "make distclean" before doing this
  (to ensure that there is no stale config.{cache,status}).

  The alternative would be to make major modifications to

* Sometimes when you build and install gnuserv, and run gnuclient, you
  will see weird errors like:

    (invalid-function 1)

  with a backtrace like:

    Debugger entered--Lisp error: (invalid-function 1)
    signal(invalid-function (1))
    gnuserv-process-filter(#<process gnuserv> "4 (1 .

  or similar invalid lisp being passed to gnuserv.

  This is probably because the initial part of the lisp command is not
  being sent.  This happens when configure can't find any window
  systems (or similar), so gnuclient doesn't include the required
  piece of code.  gnuserv doesn't actually use any window system code,
  but does need to know which one is available so gnuclient knows what
  sort of editing session to request.

  A workaround is to do:

    rm config.cache
    ./configure --x-includes=/usr/local/include --x-libraries=/usr/local/lib

  Actually, /tmp is probably a bad choice, since someone could put
  something malicious there, but I'm sure you get the idea.

  Of course, you can use additional options to configure...

  Thanks to Uli Bubenheimer for helping me tracking this one down.

* If you use SSH to connect to a machine that is already running
  Emacs/gnuserv, and then try to connect using gnuclient, Emacs may
  exit or behave weirdly.  This is an Emacs/X problem, since Emacs
  can't find SSH's temporary cookie file.  The whole situation can't
  be easily fixed in Emacs or gnuserv, but Emacs should not crash.

  A work-around that allows you to connect is to do this:

    xauth extract - $DISPLAY | xauth -f .Xauthority merge -

  in the SSH session.  This puts the cookie for the SSH session's
  display into the standard .Xauthority file so Emacs/X can find it.

  Thanks to Martin Thornquist <> for providing this
  work-around.  He got it from Frode Vatvedt Fjeld <>.

* If you've done the above and used gnuserv via SSH, then you probably
  can't close the SSH session.  This is because Emacs doesn't
  disconnect from a display when it has no more frames open on it.
  The following very, very gross hack seems to do the trick:

  (defun x-close-connection-if-no-frames (display)
    "Close an open connection to DISPLAY if DISPLAY has no frames."
    (if (and
         (member display (x-display-list))
          (eval (cons 'or
                       '(lambda (f) (equal (frame-parameter f 'display)
        (x-close-connection display)))
  (defadvice delete-frame (around
      (let ((display (frame-parameter frame 'display)))
        (x-close-connection-if-no-frames display)))


Also available is a script called dtemacs.  This can be used to invoke
an editing session within Emacs and has been used to integrate Emacs
into desktop environments like CDE or KDE.  If Emacs can not be
contacted using gnuserv, Emacs is executed and left iconified.  Either
way, a new frame is opened to edit the specified files.

Get it from:

I've told Gnome to use dtemacs as the default editor.  Previously, I
told KDE to use dtemacs for various types of text and program files.


Not all of the configure options are defined or work properly:

* I don't know how to define SOCKADDR_SUN_LEN and BROKEN_INET_ADDR.


Please report problems about the following to me:

* gnuserv-compat.el (elisp errors from gnuserv.el in GNU Emacs)

* the configuration & installation procedure

* total failures to get this version of gnuserv to do anything!

If you're sure you have found a bug in the C code (not likely to be
caused by my changes) or gnuserv.el then, of course, feel free to
contact the maintainers of those components.  If you're not sure then
please check with me.  I'd hate to bother other people with problems
that I've created!

My plan it to grab each new version of gnuserv as it appears, package
it and release it.  Please feel free to make suggestions, but remember
that I'm trying to change as little of the original gnuserv code as
possible.  My goal is to just to make new versions of gnuserv work
with GNU Emacs.

Martin Schwenke <>
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