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An Emacs configuration bundle with batteries included
Emacs Lisp Shell
Branch: master

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A reasonable Emacs config

This is my emacs configuration tree, continually used and tweaked since 2000, and it may be a good starting point for other Emacs users, especially those who are web developers. These days it's somewhat geared towards OS X, but it is known to also work on Linux and Windows.

Emacs itself comes with support for many programming languages. This config adds improved defaults and extended support for the following:

  • Ruby / Ruby on Rails
  • HAML / Markdown / Textile / ERB
  • Clojure (with Cider and nRepl)
  • Javascript / Coffeescript
  • Python
  • PHP
  • Haskell
  • Erlang
  • Common Lisp (with Slime)

In particular, there's a nice config for tab autocompletion, and flycheck is used to immediately highlight syntax errors in Ruby, HAML, Python, Javascript, PHP and a number of other languages.

Supported Emacs versions

The config should run on Emacs 23.3 or greater and is designed to degrade smoothly - see the Travis build - but note that Emacs 24 and above is required for an increasing number of key packages, including magit and flycheck, so to get full you should use the latest Emacs version available to you.

Other requirements

To make the most of the programming language-specific support in this config, further programs will likely be required, particularly those that flycheck uses to provide on-the-fly syntax checking.


To install, clone this repo to ~/.emacs.d, i.e. ensure that the init.el contained in this repo ends up at ~/.emacs.d/init.el:

git clone ~/.emacs.d

Upon starting up Emacs for the first time, further third-party packages will be automatically downloaded and installed. If you encounter any errors at that stage, try restarting Emacs, and possibly running M-x package-refresh-contents before doing so.

Important note about ido

This config enables ido-mode completion in the minibuffer wherever possible, which might confuse you when trying to open files using C-x C-f, e.g. when you want to open a directory to use dired -- if you get stuck, use C-f to drop into the regular find-file prompt. (You might want to customize the ido-show-dot-for-dired variable if this is an issue for you.)


Update the config with git pull. You'll probably also want/need to update the third-party packages regularly too:

M-x package-list-packages, then U followed by x.

Adding your own customization

To add your own customization, use M-x customize and/or create a file ~/.emacs.d/lisp/init-local.el which looks like this:

... your code here ...

(provide 'init-local)

If you need initialisation code which executes earlier in the startup process, you can also create an ~/.emacs.d/lisp/init-preload-local.el file.

If you plan to customize things more extensively, you should probably just fork the repo and hack away at the config to make it your own!

Similar configs

You might also want to check out emacs-starter-kit and prelude.

Support / issues

If you hit any problems, please first ensure that you are using the latest version of this code, and that you have updated your packages to the most recent available versions (see "Updates" above). If you still experience problems, go ahead and file an issue on the github project.

-Steve Purcell


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