The Mac Emacs that I use is XEmacs with Andrew Choi's patches, which were never accepted for some reason. I've been using this version since 2005... but I stopped being able to compile it in 2008. It last built successfully on MacOS 10.5, I guess?

-rwxr-xr-x 1 root admin 6.8M Aug 22 2008 /Applications/XEmacs.app/Contents/MacOS/XEmacs

This is probably going to cause me a lot of swearing some time next year.

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43 Responses:

  1. ff says:

    Have you tried contacting the developer for more information?

  2. I’m pretty sure if you hit that Learn More button, it’ll have some deep inside information on a fix.

    • no says:

      Looking at the linked patches, that port uses Carbon, which was deprecated and won't be supported at all in the next Mac OS.

      Hoping that expectation of swearing means he's about to Use Cocoa in Anger.

  3. % port list available xemacs
    xemacs @21.4.22 editors/xemacs

    I'm ignorant XEmacs version numbers (I'm a vi(1) user, just by habit, let's all please not have that meaningless argument again), and Mr. Choi's patches may have to be modified, but it seems that the MacPorts version… (Aside: Fink supposedly also has an XEmacs package, and may play better with applying your own diffs to the patch repo; MacPorts defaults to using their build farm, but it's closer to what I'm used to from NetBSD.)


    % xemacs
    [absolutely no GUI]


    Fine, so I guess we install XQuartz, since Apple spun that out, like, a decade ago, which is also a bit long in the tooth: "2016-10-29 For OS X 10.6.3 or later"…

    Wait, what?

    Um, okay, brb…

    • jwz says:

      No no, keep going! I'll wait. You're almost caught up.

      • Is it the non-native that bugs you? (I can totally understand that, I'm legitimately not sure if it's that or this is another thing that's broken for you but just works for others.)

        • jwz says:

          Yes, I don't use a Mac because I consider running X11 to be acceptable. The integration between X11 apps and the rest of the Mac environment is... well it's exactly what you'd expect.

    • Seems to work, albeit in X11, not natively. So… could be worse?

      This is all:
      % uname -a
      Darwin peat.eclipsed.net 18.2.0 Darwin Kernel Version 18.2.0: Mon Nov 12 20:24:46 PST 2018; root:xnu-4903.231.4~2/RELEASE_X86_64 x86_64

      • Zach says:

        Homebrew has the Cocoa version if you install with the --with-cocoa switch (it officially recommends the binaries from emacsformacosx.com, but will build its own version if you want it to, which gives you the chance to apply patches). That would get you a native app and away from X11 at least.

        Where the swearing comes in is that I have no idea how much the resulting bundle of stuff you get from that process differs from Andrew Choi's version besides the whole "not about to be deprecated" thing, or the magnitude of the pain involved in transforming the modern version back into something resembling the old one.

        • jwz says:

          That’s rmsmacs, not xemacs.

          • tfb says:

            For what it's worth the emacsformacosx person does a good job of producing a version which just works, actually feels like emacs (there is/was some other thing which went out of its way to not feel like emacs) and is up to date.

            But what it's worth is not much since it's not XEmacs. I used to be an xemacs person (used to be an lemacs person in fact) but at some point I decided that it seemed to be not only dead but beginnng to rot and I switched as the options seemed to be linux or giving up on xemacs (and in the linux case still probably having to give up on it in due course). My best guess is that I then had some kind of brain surgery to remove the memories as I can't remember it being as painful as it must have been.

            • Given you "used to be an [sic] lemacs person", you can see how our host might be reluctant to engage in that compromise, I hope?

              • tfb says:

                Yes, I was as well. But for me it was kind of the same compromise that made me move off LispMs: yes they were better, but they were also dead and the time I was spending on life support for them was more than the time I spent actually doing anything useful.

                However my only point was that the emacsformacosx person does actually provide a painless and (so far) reliable source for emacs on the Mac, which is not full of additional make-it-look-like-something-else crud.

                (And yes 'an lemacs' because in my part of the world 'lemacs' was pronounced 'ell emacs' not 'lee macs' and so needs 'an' not 'a'.)

                • Oh, wow! Am I the asshole here? I genuinely thought that you'd dropped out an adjective in editing or something there, but does everybody else in the world pronounce that with an extra syllable? I've always though "lee-max", but I'm no longer sure I've heard anybody else say it aloud.

                  (I do take your real point.)

                  • tfb says:

                    I only heard it spoken by people in the UK so I don't know how it 'should' be pronounced (I guess jwz does!). The existence of words which originated as written forms and got distributed to distinct groups of speakers must be an interesting, relatively new, thing to linguists I guess.

                  • Anonymous says:

                    If you're editing "[sic]" in to a quote of material pulled from an internet comment section in the first place, you are the asshole.

  4. Malcolm says:

    Yes, there will be swearing.

    XEmacs hasn't had any major development for years and there isn't a current MacOS interface for it, only X11.

    From a technical perspective the current version of GNU Emacs' MacOS interface is vastly better than XEmacs' version ever was and many of it subsystems are better too (Lexical closures! Threads! Huge amount of experimentation in third party packages!).

    From a political perspective GNU Emacs is unchanged so I doubt that it will be acceptable for you.

    • jwz says:

      I have zero fucks about the politics, I just don’t want to spend weeks porting old code and losing my damned mind over keybinding changes. I have muscle memory and other shit to do!

      • Malcolm says:

        I switched to GNU Emacs in 2013 after using Epoch and then XEmacs since 1989. IIRC I ran both simultaneously with a common init file for about six months before I moved over permanently. It was a pain in the ass but being able to run packages like org-mode and magit made it worth it.

  5. Rpk says:

    I ordinarily use the emacs-app (based on GNU Emacs 26) package from MacPorts. Unfortunately, there is a startup display problem on Mojave, but you can work around that by using emacs-app-devel, which is based on GNU Emacs 27, and seems just as stable.

  6. UnlikelyLass says:

    I’m extremely curious how this is going to turn out — I used XEmacs for about 15-20 years, there, and switched over to rmsmacs for my Mac OS usage due to XEmacs clearly being Very Dead. I’m not a lisp coder, though, so there was little I had to do but adjust my .emacs file and wrap my head around one or two keyboard changes, so the change was irritating more than debilitating.

    All the Cool Kids seem to be using one or more of MS VS Studio, Atom, or Sublime Text. The first two of those use Electron, which is an abomination...

    • Greatevil says:

      Since the vi plugins for the editors you listed are lackluster at best I can only assume the emacs ones are worse. That said I'm a little shocked no one has hollowed out the back of one of them to be used as a front end for the real stuff.

    • Owen W. says:

      serious question: What's so bad about Electron? I see a lot of complaints in general ("bad" "sucks" "abomination") but not explanation about what's bad. Googling has only given me more vague complaints.

      • k3ninho says:

        Electron contains a full Chromium baseline, including a binary Xbox 360 controller in the macOS branch[1]. And I'm sure there should be a [previously] link for that fact.

        1: https://josephg.com/blog/electron-is-flash-for-the-desktop/ -- which tells me things about Slack that make me feel less bad to know an international bank built its own replacement for MindAlign[2] which ran a Java web server and hosted web page for its own interface, consuming any spare resources on your Windows XP desktop.

        2: MindAlign was an IRC client cobbled together at UBS AG in 2000 and spun out, attracting a sale to Microsoft in 2007 who learned, only after purchase, that it was ancient BSD-licensed tech with a small amount of custom, tamper-evident recording of the chat. That they bought it to get more MS software into banking desktops was a sign of the dollar power MS had in 2007. The wiki link claims that the codebase lives on in Lync Group Chat 2010.


        • Owen W. says:

          Thanks for the info. My perspective is that the existence of Electron has meant that applications are availble for my OS that may not otherwise have been ported. Spotify, Telegram, Discord, VSCode... these are all apps that look better than basically all cross-platform apps I've ever used (like, say, Eclipse). I don't notice them being resource hogs or being slow (unlike, say, Eclipse), though I do have a nice machine.

          I am suspicious of articles that make false equivalencies between old apps and new. Slack is not just IRC, VSCode is not just a text editor (though neither is emacs), and Spotify is not an mp3 player. If you ignore all the innovations of these apps then sure, the resource increase seems unjustified. I still use audicious (a winamp clone), IRC, and a bunch of console utilities when they work. But you can't send flirty stickers inline to people in IRC.

          • UnlikelyLass says:

            Some folks prioritize access over efficiency.

            Some folks don’t. To those that don’t, “frameworks” like Electron are the absolute worst solution to a given problem, because they are designed to accomplish their goals in an inefficient way by design.

            If you are trying to run all those Electron applications simultaneously, you end up with many gigabytes of memory used up by multiple copies of Electron and it’s stack. Same for the installed footprint.

            We are so resource rich right now that we’ve decided wasting resources is a better technical solution than anything else. And here we are.

            IMHO, obviously.

  7. Are the Carbon frameworks something you could bundle wholesale into the app, or would it still require system support that absolutely won't be there?

  8. Steve Green says:

    I just had a curiously strong reaction to the XEmacs icon on the archived home page. It's been at least 15 years since I ran XEmacs. Weird.

  9. Chris says:

    Has someone come up with a good rootless virtualization thing yet? I've got a bunch of old stuff like that I'd love to be able to run again. A copy of OSX 10.6 ( can still run rosetta I think ) would run almost everything if the clipboard, window controls, file access, etc worked. Memory is cheap these days, right?

  10. Mark Crane says:

    I’m bookmarking this discussion and making my technical writing students read and analyze it, so they can explain it for a lay audience. Their heads explode when I bring up Markdown. They want to do all their assignments either PowerPoint or Publisher.

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