An Emacs configuration bundle with batteries included
Emacs Lisp Common Lisp JavaScript HTML CSS Scheme Other
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Before start

Please read below checklist for at least once

  • I recommend Emacs 24.3.1
  • You can make this setup more stable
  • I use Vim key bindings. Check FAQ on how to disable it
  • Packages from melpa-unstable are invisible by default. Modify variable melpa-include-packages in init-elpa.el if you need any of them
  • Any other issues are covered in FAQ


  • Stable is the first priority
  • 100% usable in terminal
  • Popular languages are supported (C/C++/Java/Ruby/Perl/Python/C#/Lua/Javascript …)
  • Minimum dependency (For example, network connection is OPTIONAL)
  • Optimized for cross-platform C++ development
  • Real time HTML syntax checker
  • Tested with v23.4, v24.3.1, v24.4 on ALL platforms (Linux/Cygwin/Mac/Windows)


Minimum installation

Most users should follow the section “Install in normal way”.

You need the section “Install stable version in easiest way” IF and ONLY IF:

  • you are absolutely newbie, knowing nothing about Linux/Unix
  • you are living in North Korea without internet access

Install in normal way

Please remove the file “$HOME/.emacs.d/init.el”.

Uninstall any system Emacs packages. For example, run “apt-get autoremove emacs-w3m” in Debian/Ubuntu. It’s because all packages will be placed at “$HOME/.emacs.d” from now on.

Download this zip file and extract its content into “~/.emacs.d”.

Or run command “cd ~; git clone .emacs.d” in terminal.

Ensure that the init.el contained in this repo ends up at ~/.emacs.d/init.el.

You can use stable version of my setup. Stable version has been regression tested by volunteers from time to time. “cd ~/.emacs.d/;git checkout stable” to get the stable version.

You possibly need run below command at the terminal at least once to update the content from package repositories:

emacs -nw --batch -l ~/.emacs.d/init.el -f package-refresh-contents

The command “package-refresh-content” will fetch the latest package list from remote servers. It has to be done manually. It’s not reasonable to automatically fetch the list during a text editor startup.

Install stable version in easiest way (OPTIONAL)

You don’t need git or network any more. All you need are only two zip files.

Here are the exact steps to follow:

  • Remove the file “~/.emacs”.
  • Download
  • Extract its content into empty directory “~/.emacs.d” (“~” means HOME directory). After extraction, there will be a file named “init.el” in “~/.emacs.d”
  • Download
  • Extract the zip somewhere, say “~/projs/myelpa”.
  • Double check that there is a file named “archive-contents” in the directory “~/projs/myelpa”
  • Uncomment below code in init-elpa.el and start Emacs now!
(setq package-archives '(("myelpa" . "~/projs/myelpa/")))

That’s it. You will never need internet in the future. I tested it on Emacs, Emacs 24.3.1 and Emacs 23.4.

Please note that your packages are locked. So you cannot upgrade package online in the future unless you comment out above code line.

Third party tools installation (OPTIONAL)

You can install those tools in any way you like. But using “OS package manager” might be easier.

“OS package manager” means:

  • apt-cyg at Cygwin
  • homebrew at Mac
  • any package manager at Linux (apt-get at Ubuntu, yum at Redhat, pacman at Arch, emerge at Gentoo …)

These tools are OPTIONAL. Please ignore any related error message. For example, if you didn’t install either aspell or hunspell which flyspell requires, you need ignore all the flyspell error messages.

w3m (web browser in console)

  • needed by `w3m` (w3m is emacs package name written in elisp)
  • install through OS package manager
  • please note only emacs with GUI can display image


  • required by `flymake-lua`
  • install through OS package manager

aspell or hunspell

  • needed by `flyspell`
  • hunspell is the alternative of `aspell`. So you need only one of them.
  • install through OS package manager
  • for aspell, you may need its dictionary like aspell-en
  • I force the dictionary to “en_US” in init-spelling.el. You can modify it.
  • I recommend aspell for programmers

sbcl (lisp environment)

  • needed by lisp `slime`
  • install through OS package manager

tidy or html5-tidy

  • needed by `web-mode` for real time HTML syntax check
  • install through OS package manager
  • For html5-tidy, you need download its source code and build it manually
  • I recommend html5-tidy because it supports html5, obviously


  • install `node.js` through OS package manager, then `sudo npm install -g csslint`

zip and unzip

  • needed by `org-mode` to export org file to odt file
  • install through OS package manager


  • install `node.js` through OS package manager, then `sudo npm install -g jshint`
  • required by js-mode
  • by default I use js2-mode which does NOT need jshint


  • needed by my clipboard command `copy-to-x-clipboard` and `paste-from-x-clipboard` under Linux
  • install through OS package manager



  • needed by `cpputils-cmake`, `company-clang`
  • install through OS package manager
  • If you use `cpputils-cmake` and `cmake`, `cpputils-cmake` will do all the setup for you. You don’t need read next item! But please spend a few minutes to learn the basics of cmake! There is a one minute step-by-step-guide in README of cpputils-cmake to teach you how to use cmake.
  • If you use `company-clang`, add `(setq company-clang-arguments ‘(“-I/example1/dir” “-I/example2/dir”))` into ~/.emacs.d/init.el


  • needed by `flymake`
  • install through OS package manager

MozRepl (Firefox addon)

  • needed by MozRepl
  • used by Firefox


GNU Global

  • needed by `ggtags.el`
  • it creates index files for code navigation
  • more advanced than ctags, supports references and better performance
  • install through OS package manager


  • You need pyflakes for real time python syntax checker like `flymake-python`
  • Install pip through OS package manager, then `pip install pyflakes`
  • On cygwin you need install `setuptool` in order to install `pip`.


  • Only one executable `soffice` needed when converting odt file into doc (Microsoft Word 97)
  • conversion will happen automatically when exporting org-mode to odt
  • The conversion command is in variable `org-export-odt-convert-processes`
  • Install through OS package manager


  • To beautify javascript code (insert extra space, for example)
  • Install pip through OS package manager, then `pip install jsbeautifier`


Tutorial (OPTIONAL)

Basic tutorial

Step 1, learn OS basics

Read wikipedia in order to know,

  • What is environment variable
  • What is pipe, stdout, stdin

Step 2, read official tutorial at least once

Press “C-h t” (“C” means Ctrl) to read bundled tutorial.

At minimum you need know:

  • How to move cursor
  • How to read help by pressing “C-h v” and “C-h f”.

Step 3, know org-mode basics

Org-mode is a for notes-keeping and planning. Please watch the Carsten Dominik’s talk. It’s really simple. The only hot key you need remember is “Tab”.

Step 4, solve your first problem

For that problem, you can visit EmacsWiki for the solution. Newbies can ask for help on

Advanced tutorial

See Master Emacs in One Year.


GUI version has issues?

Use terminal version.

OS X user?

Please remove bundled emacs 22 at first!

You may need remove the obsolete ctags/etags too.

Why certain package cannot be upgraded through ELPA?

Some packages (Evil, Helm, Web-mode …) are so important to my workflow that I locked their versions.

C++ developers?

You need set up the directories to seach C++ header files. Please see the section `clang`.

Use Emacs on Windows?

I strongly suggest Cygwin. But the setup is still usable in native windows version if you set up environment variable HOME.

MELPA does not include the package?

If a package is not installable through MELPA, you can place its source code at ~/.emacs.d/site-lisp instead. There are already some samples there.

Non-English users?

Please make sure your locale is UTF-8 compatible. For example, if I type `locale` in shell, I will get the output “zh_CN.UTF-8”. If and only if you see the “UTF-8”, your locale is correct.

Your government blocks the internet?

People in China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran need goagent to download packages. Run command line “http_proxy= emacs -nw” in shell after starting goagent server.

Email setup?

If you use Gnus for email (Gmail, for example), check init-gnus.el. Then read my Gnus tutorial.

How to toggle Chinese input method?

Run command `M-x toggle-input-method`.

Cannot download packages through ELPA?

Some package cannot be downloaded automatically because of network problem.

You need manually `M-x list-packages` and install it or `M-x package-refresh-content` and restart Emacs.

Use Emacs key bindings instead of Vim key bindings

By default EVIL (Vim emulation in Emacs) is used. You can comment out line containing “(require ‘init-evil)” in init.el to unload it.

Evil setup

It’s defined in “init-evil.el”. You can press “C-z” to switch between Emacs and Vim key bindings in evil-mode.

Please reading its PDF manual before using evil-mode.

Why C++ auto-completion doesn’t work?

I assume you are using company-mode. Other packages have similar setup.

At minimum:

  • You need install clang
  • Make sure your code is syntax correct at the beginning
  • assign reasonable value into company-clang-arguments

Here is sample setup in “~/.emacs.d/init.el”:

(setq company-clang-arguments '("-I/home/myname/projs/test-cmake" "-I/home/myname/projs/test-cmake/inc"))

In “friendly” Visual C++, you need do similar setup.

Use color theme in the terminal

TERM=xterm-256color emacs -nw

Avoid Emacs maximized when it starts up

Comment out below line in init-misc.el:

(add-hook 'window-setup-hook 'maximize-frame t)

Preview&apply a color theme


Write down the name of color theme (for example, molokai).

Insert below code into ~/.emacs.d/init.el,

(require 'color-theme-molokai)

“M-x color-theme-select” may not work in this setup. It’s because of some design flaw in Emacs.

Please note color themes may user different versions Emacs APIs. So please read its documentation on setup.

Update from my latest setup

I suggest pulling from the version tagged as “stable”:

git pull stable

If you don’t like some of my commits, you can revert them:

# always start from the latest related commit
git revert commit-2014-12-01
git revert commit-2014-11-01

Eim pinyin word file

By default, the word files path is at “~/.eim/py.txt”. I put it out of the emacs setup folder in order to protect my privacy.

The path can be changed in init-eim.el.

A sample py.txt can be downloaded HERE.

Report bug

Check EmacsWiki and my FAQ at first.

File bug report at Don’t email me directly!

Please contact the original developer if you find any bug from third party packages.

Bug report should include details (OS, Emacs version …) plus the output of `emacs –debug-init` at minimum.


Directory structure

init.el is the main file. It includes all the other *.el files.

“init-elpa.el” defines how and what packages will be installed from MELPA.

The package manager will extract packages into ~/.emacs.d/elpa/.

I also manually download and extract some packages into ~/.emacs.d/site-lisp/. Packages in ~/.emacs.d/site-lisp/ is not visible to the package manager.

My own snippets for Yasnippet is at ~/.emacs.d/snippets.

Other directories don’t matter.

About Emacs 23

Emacs 23 support will be dropped on <2015-04-24 Thu>. Currently below packages are not supported on Emacs 23:

  • helm
  • org-mode and its packages
  • company-mode
  • git-gutter
  • yasnippet
  • ggtags-mode