Random Linux Notes, Emacs on Ubuntu, 2011-05-26

By Xah Lee. Date: . Last updated: .

Installed Ubuntu Linux recently, together with emacs 23.2.1 on it. Of course, then i grabbed ErgoEmacs. I was half expecting whatnot bugs or at least some frustration, but actually, it's quite smooth! I've been using ErgoEmacs for about 4 years now and it'd be quite painful to fall back to plain old GNU Emacs.

Still, i did find a few problems.

Emacs Dired Recursive Load Error

See: Emacs Dired Recursive Load Error 2011-05-26.

Linux/Emacs Copy/Paste Problem

In Linux, if copy/paste doesn't work with other apps, you need to add this line:

(setq x-select-enable-clipboard t)

X11, Jamie Zawinski, Don Hopkins

Emacs's kill-ring is independent of Operating System's clipboard, and added to the complexity is that X11 itself has very complex and idiotic copy/paste system. (X11 itself is a complete faakup, inside out.) See:

Note that Jamie Zawinski (aka jwz) is a celebrity. See:

Don Hopkins is also well known. See the Wikipedia article linked at the bottom of the bottom of The X-Windows Disaster.

Emacs isn't Bundled with Linuxes

Am rather pissed that emacs isn't bundled by default with Ubuntu. In fact, when you try to install it, it's considered a un-supported package (i.e. in the package category of “universe”.) That's kinda a flying-faak-in-the-face insult to the number one FSF Free software.

Ubuntu Linux Package Classfication
FSF Free softwareNon-FSF-free software

Of course, i know why Linuxes don't support emacs. It's because the haughty GNU Emacs people refuse to make it work well. When a software's copy/paste doesn't work with the rest of the system, and with its key shortcuts and terminology completely incompatible with the rest, how could Gnome, KDE, Debian, Ubuntu, promote it as first-class citizen?

(on the other hand, vi is always bundled, because it's more considered as a sys admin tool, part of the shell tool bag, used inside text terminal. (See also: Emergency vim))

Reunion with unix

The last time i worked in unix daily in a serious way is from 1998 to 2002 (not counting Mac OS X). It is good to be back! Emacs is significantly faster when in Linux than compared to on Windows. Starting up ErgoEmacs takes about 5 times faster! (4 secs on Linux, perhaps 16 seconds on Windows) I guess there's a lot muck going on going thru Windows API, and i know for a certainty that FSF actively resist in improving emacs for Microsoft Windows. Spell checking a file on Linux is i estimate at least 10 times faster than compared to doing it in Windows emacs with aspell thru Cygwin.

Also, in Windows, with Cygwin, it's one big headache. You have to install every tool (rsync, unison, curl, wget, ssh, perl, python, imagemagick, optipng/pngcrush, w3m, aspell, zip/unzip, etc.). The Cygwin installer is one piece of un-intuitive error-prone shit. The package depository mirror sites keep coming and going. The Windows Console is one worst command line interface possible in my 15 years of using over 10+ command line consoles. I don't think Microsoft has updated it for 10 years. (though, they did create the powerful PowerShell with its own very functional command line interface.)

Window Managers, Now and Then

In Linux, the terminal is just great. The last time i used Linux is around 2000. At the time, the Gnome project is barely announced (first release in 1999). Now, [ gnome-terminal ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNOME_Terminal ] is fantastic, even support tabs. The terminal app on X11 i had in mind is [ xterm ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/xterm ], and whoa it's still there, runs, with its bit-mapped font, just as i remembered it. The clunky X11 of 10 years ago with its concrete-slab appearance and its tens of idiotic so-called “window managers” are gone, replaced today with Gnome. (initially, KDE and Gnome's look-n-feel is 100% copy of MS Windows, but now seems diverged.)

It feels sooo good to be back with unix terminal.

X11 on Solaris. This is CDE. This is how i remember X11, ~1999. Mac OS of the time, or even Windows, is ten times better. [see The Unix Pestilence] [image source 2011-05-27 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DECwindows-openvms-v7.3-1.png ]

Here's some old school window manager [ CDE ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Desktop_Environment ], [ Motif ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motif_Window_Manager ], [ AfterStep ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AfterStep ], [ GNUstep ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNUstep ], [ Window Maker ] [ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_Maker ].