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text, tool /ee'maks/ (Editing MACroS, or Extensible MACro
System, GNU Emacs) A popular screen editor for Unix and
most other operating systems.
Emacs is distributed by the Free Software Foundation and was
Richard Stallman's first step in the GNU project. Emacs
is extensible - it is easy to add new functions; customisable
- you can rebind keys, and modify the behaviour of existing
functions; self-documenting - there is extensive on-line,
context-sensitive help; and has a real-time "what you see is
what you get" display. Emacs is writen in C and the higher
levels are programmed in Emacs Lisp.
Emacs has an entire Lisp system inside it. It was
originally written in TECO under ITS at the MIT AIlab. AI Memo 554 described it as "an advanced,
self-documenting, customisable, extensible real-time display
It includes facilities to view directories, run compilation
subprocesses and send and receive electronic mail and
ange-ftp package provides transparent access to files on
remote FTP servers. Calc is a calculator and symbolicmathematics package. There are "modes" provided to assist in
editing most well-known programming languages. Most of these
extra functions are configured to load automatically on first
use, reducing start-up time and memory consumption. Many
hackers (including Denis Howe) spend more than 80% of their
tube time inside Emacs.
GNU Emacs is available for Unix, VMS, GNU/Linux,
other systems. Emacs has been re-implemented more than 30
times. Other variants include GOSMACS, CCA Emacs, UniPress
Emacs, Montgomery Emacs, and XEmacs. Jove, epsilon, and
MicroEmacs are limited look-alikes.
Some Emacs versions running under window managers iconify as
an overflowing kitchen sink, perhaps to suggest the one
feature the editor does not (yet) include. Indeed, some
hackers find Emacs too heavyweight and baroque for their
taste, and expand the name as "Escape Meta Alt Control Shift"
to spoof its heavy reliance on keystrokes decorated with
bucky bits. Other spoof expansions include "Eight Megabytes
And Constantly Swapping", "Eventually "malloc()'s All Computer
Storage", and "Emacs Makes A Computer Slow" (see recursiveacronym). See also vi.
Latest version: 20.6, as of 2000-05-11. 21.1 (RSN) adds a
new redisplay engine with support for proportional text,
images, tool bars, tool tips, toolkit scroll bars, and a
mouse-sensitive mode line.