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Radian: dotfiles that marry elegance and practicality.


These dotfiles attempt to achieve the following goals:

  • aggressively using best practices, or creating them if none exist already
  • extensively documenting and commenting all code
  • remaining as simple as possible while maximizing usability (in particular, not rebinding keys unnecessarily)
  • supporting local configuration without the need to fork this repository (my local Emacs configuration is almost 750 lines of code)

If you are a fan of my Emacs packages (such as straight.el, el-patch, Selectrum (replaced by Vertico), CTRLF, prescient.el, Apheleia, Blackout) then you will find all of them configured here.

Note that there is a main branch which is not updated as frequently. You may be interested in running this branch if you desire more stability.

Software configured, features

  • Emacs (minimum version supported: 27.1)
    • Next-generation package manager, straight.el
    • Clean and DRY package customizations using use-package
    • Simpler and less buggy (than Ivy, Counsel, Helm) file and command selection using Vertico
    • More robust and streamlined single-buffer text search (than Isearch, Swiper) using CTRLF
    • Sorting by frecency and usage on all commands using prescient.el
    • IDE features for expanding library of programming languages with LSP via lsp-mode (Bash, C, C++, CSS, Flow, Go, Haskell, HTML, JavaScript, TypeScript, JSX/TSX, Flow, LaTeX, Python with Poetry and Pipenv virtualenvs autodetected)
    • Automatic asynchronous code reformatting without moving point using Black, Brittany, Gofmt, and Prettier via Apheleia
    • Informative but minimal mode-line showing file modification status, buffer name, point position, and active modes (with optional right-alignment support)
    • Extremely clean mode lighters with prettier names thanks to Blackout
    • All the needless messages have been suppressed; no errors mean no messages
    • Aggressive startup optimization: as fast as 0.33s for a fully configured graphical frame (by aggressive lazy-loading of everything; using el-patch to lazy-load packages that weren't designed to be lazy-loaded; by extensive use of idle timers; by disabling of heavy autoloads; by asynchronous byte-compilation of the init-file in a subprocess on successful init, with the local init-file macroexpanded and embedded directly into Radian during compilation; and by running all customizations before the first graphical frame is initialized)
    • Aggressively consistent coding style and documentation (init-file is 37% comments and docstrings), including heavy use of macros to automate and foolproof common operations
    • Future-proof customizations using el-patch
    • Delightful color scheme that works in the terminal (Zerodark)
    • Clipboard, mouse, and PATH integration for macOS and Linux
    • Automatic creation and interactive removal of parent directories when finding and renaming files
    • Automatically clone Emacs source when needed by find-function
    • Extensible system for defining mnemonic key sequences to jump to dotfiles
    • Choose to kill, restart, or spawn new Emacs on C-x C-c, based partly on restart-emacs
    • Automatic insertion of whitespace and indentation when pressing newline after inserting a pair of delimiters
    • Global auto-fill configured to activate only in comments, docstrings, and text
    • Configured packages: Atomic Chrome (with Firefox support), Autorevert, buffer-move, Company, delete-selection-mode, Dired, dumb-jump, ElDoc, ESUP, Forge, git-gutter-fringe.el, git-link, Helpful, Macrostep, Magit, no-littering, Org, Projectile, pyvenv, rg.el, Smartparens, transpose-frame, undo-tree, use-package, visual-regexp, which-key, and more
    • Major modes for editing many languages and configuration file types
    • Tested on GitHub Actions with Docker configuration included for all supported Emacs versions
  • Zsh
    • Extremely fast and flexible package manager, znap
    • No-nonsense prompt showing username, hostname, working directory, and Git status, colored by exit code
    • Substring completion everywhere
    • GUI-like file/directory copy/paste functions on the command line
    • Extensive library of clean and consistent Git aliases
    • Colored man pages
    • Configured plugins: wdx, zsh-autocomplete, zsh-autosuggestions, zsh-completions
  • Tmux
    • Keybindings for inserting new windows and shifting them left and right
    • No-nonsense but stylish status bar à la powerline but without the dependencies
    • Spectacular hack to leverage reattach-to-user-namespace on macOS with minimal side effects
  • Git
    • Create a repository and a root commit all at once
    • Alias and unalias without messing with git config
    • More helpful output from git status, submodules, and more


Setup is in three parts: installing the software, installing the configuration, and optionally installing local configuration.

Installing software


  • Emacs: brew install bash python; brew cask install emacs; (optional for improved startup time) brew install watchexec

  • Zsh:

    $ brew install zsh
    $ echo $(which zsh) | sudo tee -a /etc/shells
    $ chfn -s $(which zsh)
  • Tmux: brew install tmux

  • Git: brew install git


  • Emacs: apt install emacs python3; (optional for improved startup time) apt install watchexec-cli
  • Zsh: apt install zsh
  • Tmux: apt install tmux
  • Git: apt install git

Arch/Manjaro Linux

I use Yay to install AUR packages. If you prefer something different, substitute to taste.

  • Emacs: pacman -S emacs python; (optional for improved startup time) yay -S watchexec
  • Zsh: pacman -S zsh
  • Tmux: pacman -S tmux
  • Git: pacman -S git

Installing configuration

Use symbolic links:

./emacs/init.el => ~/.emacs.d/init.el
./emacs/early-init.el => ~/.emacs.d/early-init.el
./emacs/versions.el => ~/.emacs.d/straight/versions/radian.el
./git/.gitconfig => ~/.gitconfig
./git/.gitexclude => ~/.gitexclude
./shell/shared/.profile => ~/.profile
./shell/zsh/.zshrc => ~/.zshrc
./shell/zsh/.zprofile => ~/.zprofile
./tmux/.tmux.conf => ~/.tmux.conf

Do not attempt to use the emacs subdirectory of this repository as user-emacs-directory; it won't work.

Installing local configuration

  • Emacs: ~/.emacs.d/init.local.el (local configuration) and ~/.emacs.d/straight/versions/radian-local.el (optional, local lockfile for straight.el; will be created when you run M-x straight-freeze-versions)
  • All shells: ~/.profile.local
  • Zsh: ~/.zshrc.local
  • Tmux: ~/.tmux.local.conf
  • Git: ~/.gitconfig.local

I suggest versioning your local dotfiles in a separate repository, and symlinking them to the appropriate locations. This is what I do.

Here is what your init.local.el should probably look like:

;; code that should be run at the very beginning of init, e.g.

(setq radian-font ...)
(setq radian-font-size ...)

(radian-local-on-hook before-straight

  ;; code that should be run right before straight.el is bootstrapped,
  ;; e.g.

  (setq straight-vc-git-default-protocol ...)
  (setq straight-check-for-modifications ...))

(radian-local-on-hook after-init

  ;; code that should be run at the end of init, e.g.

  (use-package ...))

;; see M-x customize-group RET radian-hooks RET for which hooks you
;; can use with `radian-local-on-hook'

You don't have to worry about byte-compiling your local init-file; Radian actually macroexpands it and embeds it directly into the byte-compiled Radian init-file. Using the macro radian-local-on-hook instead of defining functions and adding them to Radian's hooks manually enables some magic that makes this actually work properly.


There is some very incomplete documentation here.


Please feel free to contribute in any way that you would like. If you find a bug or have a question about how to use Radian, report it. If you want to contribute code, please do. (Try to follow the style of the surrounding code.)

Reading the source code

Please do! It will probably be informative in one way or another. The goal is that absolutely everything should be either obvious or commented.


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