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See the project page for detailed information on the distribution and to obtain binary releases.

Emacs Modified for Windows

Emacs Modified for Windows is a distribution of GNU Emacs bundled with a few select packages for LaTeX users and R developers, most notably AUCTeX and ESS. It also comes with a spell checker, additional image libraries and a convenient installation wizard. The distribution is based on the latest stable release of GNU Emacs.

Other than the additions mentioned above and some minor configuration, this is a stock distribution of Emacs. Users of Emacs on other platforms will appreciate the similar look and feel of the application.

Repository content

The repository contains a binary distribution of Aspell, a few distribution-specific files and a Makefile to fetch the other components and combine everything into an installer based on Inno Setup. The complete source code of Emacs and the extensions is not hosted here.


Building the distribution on Windows requires a number of Unix utilities that do not come bundled with the operating system. Therefore, one will need to install the following components:

  1. The MSYS2 building platform for Windows. This provides a Unix shell and standard utilities.

  2. The following additional MSYS2 packages: make, dos2unix, texinfo and p7zip (if 7Zip is not otherwise installed on the system). To install, use

    pacman -S make dos2unix texinfo p7zip

    from the MSYS command line.

  3. Inno Setup to create the installer.

Building the distribution

Edit the Makeconf file to set the version numbers of GNU Emacs, the distribution and the various extensions (more on this below). Then make or make all will launch the following three main steps:

  1. get-packages will fetch the binary release of GNU Emacs; the official releases of ESS, AUCTeX and org; markdown-mode.el, exec-path-from-shell.el and psvn.el from their respective GitHub or Subversion repositories; the snapshot of the master branch of Polymode.

  2. emacs will, in summary, decompress the GNU binary distribution in a temporary directory, add all the extensions into the application tree and build and installer.

  3. release will create a tag and a release on GitHub, upload the installer and attach it to said release, and update the project's web page with the correct version numbers and hyperlinks.

Each of the above three steps is split into smaller recipes, around 20 in total. See the Makefile for details.

Publishing on GitHub

Publishing a release and uploading files in GitHub from the command line involves using the GitHub API. The interested reader may have a look at the create-release and upload recipes in the Makefile to see how we achieved complete automation of the process, including the extraction of the release notes from the NEWS file.

Version numbers of the extensions

The most manual part of the build process has always been to get the version numbers of the latest releases for all the bundled extensions. Here's how I managed to make my life easier using Git Submodules for all extensions but the image libraries.

In a separate directory, I created a purely local Git repository named emacs-modified-extensions:

$ git init emacs-modified-extensions

In this repository I added the following submodules:

$ git submodule add
$ git submodule add
$ git submodule add
$ git submodule add
$ git submodule add
$ git submodule add

Finally, I created a Makefile with the following content to fetch the version numbers of the latest releases of each of the above submodules (except Polymode, where the date of the latest snapshop of the master branch is used). The script also extracts the latest revision number of psvn.el in the Subversion source code repository.

all :
	git submodule foreach 'git submodule update'
	if [ -f versions.txt ]; then rm versions.txt; fi
	touch versions.txt
	echo ESSVERSION=$(shell git -C ESS describe --tags | cut -d - -f 1 | tr -d v) \
	  >> versions.txt
	echo AUCTEXVERSION=$(shell git -C auctex describe --tags | cut -d - -f 1 | cut -d _ -f 2-3 | tr _ .) \
	  >> versions.txt
	echo ORGVERSION=$(shell git -C org-mode describe --tags | cut -d - -f 1 | cut -d _ -f 2) \
	  >> versions.txt
	echo POLYMODEVERSION=$(shell git -C polymode show -s --format="%ci" HEAD | cut -d " " -f 1) \
	  >> versions.txt
	echo MARKDOWNLOADVERSION=$(shell git -C markdown-mode describe --tags | cut -d - -f 1 | tr -d v) \
	  >> versions.txt
	echo EXECPATHVERSION=$(shell git -C exec-path-from-shell describe --tags | cut -d - -f 1) \
	  >> versions.txt
	echo PSVNVERSION=$(shell svn log -q -l 1 \
	  | grep ^r | cut -d " " -f 1 | tr -d r) \
	  >> versions.txt

Running make in this directory yields a file versions.txt containing the variable initialization strings to use in this project's Makeconf file.

This is actually simpler than using git ls-remote.

For the image libraries, I still have to look up the latest versions manually on the ezwinports project site. Fortunately, these do not change often.