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This is the “classic” version of Chemacs, which goes into ~/.emacs, and which does not support early-init.el. We generally recommend using plexus/chemacs2 instead.
Contributions should generally go towards Chemacs2. They can be backported later if there is interest in that.
Chemacs is an Emacs profile switcher, it makes it easy to run multiple Emacs configurations side by side.
Think of it as a bootloader for Emacs.
Emacs configuration is either kept in a
~/.emacs file or, more commonly, in a
~/.emacs.d directory. These paths are hard-coded. If you want to try out
someone else’s configuration, or run different distributions like Prelude or
Spacemacs, then you either need to swap out
~/.emacs.d, or run Emacs with a
$HOME directory set.
This last approach is quite common, but has some real drawbacks, since now packages will no longer know where your actual home directory is.
All of these makes trying out different Emacs configurations and distributions needlessly cumbersome.
Various approaches to solving this have been floated over the years. There’s an Emacs patch around that adds an extra command line option, and various examples of how to add a command line option in userspace from Emacs Lisp.
Chemacs tries to implement this idea in a user-friendly way, taking care of the various edge cases and use cases that come up.
Clone the Git repository, and run
$ git clone https://github.com/plexus/chemacs.git $ cd chemacs $ ./install.sh OK Creating symlink ~/.emacs -> /home/arne/chemacs/.emacs
The install script will symlink
~/.emacs to the Chemacs script. If you
already have a
~/.emacs you need to move it out of the way first
$ ./install.sh WARN chemacs can't be installed, ~/.emacs is in the way
By symlinking you can easily update Chemacs with a
git pull. Chemacs is not
available on ELPA/MELPA because its special position in the Emacs boot process
would cause a chicken and egg problem.
There’s a similar script for Windows called
$ git clone https://github.com/plexus/chemacs.git $ cd chemacs $ .\install.ps1 OK copying file to ~/.emacs
The Windows script copies the ~/.emacs file rather than symlinking it, as
symlinks in Windows require elevated privileges. To update the file, run
install.ps1 a second time, if necessary - it uses hashing to detect
changes and prompts for conformation before overwriting
$ .\install.ps1 WARN content is different between C:\Users\Me\.emacs and C:\Users\Me\repos\chemacs\.emacs WARN chemacs may already be installed OR something else may be in the way Do you want to overwrite C:\Users\Me\.emacs?: y OK updated chemacs files successfully.
Chemacs adds an extra command line option to Emacs,
are configured in
~/.emacs-profiles.el. If this file does not exist
Chemacs will create it with a default profile pointing at
If no profile is given at the command line then the default profile is used, so
if you currently have your emacs configuration in
~/.emacs.d then Chemacs
will, by default, use your existing configuration.
$ emacs --with-profile my-profile
This file contains an association list, with the keys/cars being the profile names, and the values/cdrs their configuration.
The main thing to configure is the
(("default" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/.emacs.d"))) ("spacemacs" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/spacemacs"))))
Chemacs will set this to be the
user-emacs-directory in use, and load
init.el from that directory.
Other things you can configure
custom-file: The file where Customize stores its customizations. If this isn’t configured, and the
custom-filevariable is still unset after loading the profile’s
init.el, then this will get set to the profile’s
server-name: Sets the
server-namevariable, so you can distinguish multiple instances with
emacsclient -s <server-name>.
envAn association list of environment variables. These will get set before loading the profile, so they can influence the initialization, and they are visible to any subprocesses spawned from Emacs.
straight-pEnable the Straight functional package manager.
.emacs-profiles.el together with your dotfiles. If you’re not yet keeping
a version controlled directory of dotfiles, then check out
for a helpful script to do that.
Changing the default profile (e.g. for GUI editors)
Where it is not possible to use the
--with-profile flag, the default profile
can be set using a
~/.emacs-profiles.el file contains the following:
(("default" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/.emacs.d"))) ("spacemacs" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/spacemacs"))) ("prelude" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/prelude"))))
you can create a file called
~/.emacs-profile, containing the name of the
profile you’d like to be used when none is given on the command line:
$ echo 'spacemacs' > ~/.emacs-profile
This will set the default profile to be the “spacemacs” profile, instead of “default”. You can change the default by simply changing the contents of this file:
$ echo 'prelude' > ~/.emacs-profile
If this file doesn’t exist, then “default” will be used, as before.
Spacemacs is typically installed by cloning the Spacemacs repo to
and doing extra customization from
This makes it tedious to switch between version of Spacemacs, or between
different Spacemacs configurations.
With Chemacs you can point your
user-emacs-directory to wherever you have
Spacemacs installed, and use the
SPACEMACSDIR environment variable to point at
a directory containing `init.el` (or creating it on first run) with customizations
that are applied on top of the base install.
(("spacemacs" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/spacemacs") (env . (("SPACEMACSDIR" . "~/.spacemacs.d"))))) ("spacemacs-develop" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/spacemacs/develop") (env . (("SPACEMACSDIR" . "~/.spacemacs.d"))))) ("new-config" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/spacemacs/develop") (env . (("SPACEMACSDIR" . "~/my-spacemacs-config"))))))
You can add an entry similar to the following to your
In the following snippet
~/doom-emacs is where you have cloned doom emacs.
(Depending on when you read this)
DOOMDIR support is only in
develop branch of doom emacs. Check commit history of
master branch of doom emacs
("doom" . ((user-emacs-directory . "~/doom-emacs") (env . (("DOOMDIR" . "~/doom-config")))))
Please refer to this discussion for details.
Copyright © Arne Brasseur 2018-2020
Distributed under the terms of the GPL v3.