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Re: A few Emacs newbie questions, need oldbie answers :)

From: Jason Earl
Subject: Re: A few Emacs newbie questions, need oldbie answers :)
Date: Mon, 19 Apr 2004 23:11:25 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux)

Deboo <> writes:

> Hi List!

> I have limited-time net connection and not very high speed one at
> that.  So, am putting all my questions in one or two messages and
> sending. I hope this won't irritate others and also hope I'll get
> quite a few replies when I check next, in 24 hours or so. Sorry for
> putting all these in one message.
>       In emacs, how to search/get a lisp program (download) and how
>       to install it and how to load it? E.g., remind.el

Most of the Emacs packages I use have Debian packages.  This makes
installing them as easy as a simple apt command.  However, I do have
some packages installed manually (and remind.el just happens to be one
of them).  Generally speaking the correct thing to do is to download
the .el files and then follow the instructions provided.  In the case
of remind.el that means adding a folder to your Emacs load path by
putting something similar to the following line in your .emacs file:

(setq load-path (cons "~/emacs-lisp" load-path))

You then simply put remind.el in this directory (~/emacs-lisp in my
case) and add:

(require 'remind)

to your .emacs file.  There are additional programs that need to be
installed for remind.el to work, but the instructions in the remind.el
file are pretty clear.

>       What is the best reminder, PIM and todo list manager avaliable
>       for emacs (console)?

I don't know about best, but I tend to use plain calendar for
organization, a plain text file for a todo list and bbdb for a PIM.  I
took a look at remind.el, planner.el, and others, but they were more
than I needed.  YMMV.

>       Is there a way to save all the programs used under emacs
>       environment get saved under one directory, say .emacs and not
>       in separate directories?

You could certainly have a single directory where all of your emacs
packages are installed.  In fact, this is how most people who install
their own packages handle it (see the remind.el example above).

>       What is the best way to backup all of these emacs and other
>       programs' configs and data files?

I tend to want backups of my entire home directory.  To create a
backup of my home directory (/home/jearl) in /tmp (you probably want
to store your backups someplace safer), I do:

tar -jcvf ~/tmp/backup.tar.bz2 -C /home/ jearl

On most any Linux system 'info tar' is your friend.  On any other
system 'man tar' should get the job done.  Of course, if you have
anything other than GNU tar then you'll have to work harder, other tar
programs generally aren't as featureful.  If you are using Windows,
install Cygwin.

>       How to set a particular file (say .todo or any other todo file)
>       to get autosaved every xx seconds or x minutes?

Got me there.

>       How to get out of an emacs mode? How to get back to normal mode?

M-x fundamental-mode

>       How do I find out what all lisp programs are compiled with my
>       version of emacs?

No idea.

>       My mouse doesn't copy-paste properly in console so I normally
>       and I use the screen program so I use the keyboard for
>       copy-paste operations but it's hard to copy-paste more than one
>       page at a time. Is there some other way I could do the same in
>       emacs with less hassles, with the keyboard, many pages at a
>       time?

I tend to cut and paste in Emacs using the keyboard (even in X
Windows).  Basically I do a C-<space> to set the mark, then I move my
point (cursor) to the end of the region I want to copy and when I have
selected the region I choose M-w to copy the region or C-w to cut
(kill) the region.  I then move the point to where I want to paste the
text and do a C-y to paste the text.  Subsequent M-y commands will
cycle through your kill-ring for older bits of text that you copied or

If you haven't taken a look at the Emacs tutorial hit 'C-h t' and
spend a bit of time learning some other basic Emacs tricks.

>       What is the best way (or the easiest way) to switch buffers?

I tend to do 'C-x b' to switch to the previous buffer or 'C-x C-b' for
a list of buffers.

>       Is there a lisp program to make use of aptitude within emacs?

I haven't used it myself, but there is an apt-utils.el that is part of
the Debian emacs-goodies package.  Since you are using screen,
however, you might be better off just running both Emacs and
aptitude.  I don't know, I don't use either (plain old apt-get is what
I tend to use).

>       How to use rcs/cvs to backup many versions of a file and how to
>       automatically upload this file to a webserver/webdav space/ftp
>       server?

Emacs has lots of tools for working with rcs/cvs repositories.  Try
'M-x cvs-status' or 'C-x v d'.  Then read the info files for VC.

>       I have lots of notes, reminders, todos, lists, and such files under
>       one directory. I carry it on a mini CD that's got knoppix on it. But
>       say I need access to my files and have to use windoze to open these
>       text files, is there a very small program for windoze, running which
>       would immediately convert all the files from unix to dos format? And
>       after the work is over, running it again with some other option,
>       convert all of them back to unix format? I could keep that small
>       proggy too along, on the CD as well as on my website.

This probably sounds heretical, but how about a Windows version of vi
(vim)?  vi will happily edit both UNIX and DOS line endings (and
whatever else), and it is a great file viewer.  Plus it is a lot
smaller than Emacs.  There are also the twin unixtodos and dostounix
programs, but then you end up having to actually edit files with
something like notepad.exe.  Learning enough vi to get along won't
kill you, and if you find you like it Emacs + viper is the best vi
around (IMHO).

>       Best thing I could use emacs under dos/windoze if I could, bu it
>       would be huge to be put on a mini CD. I haven't ever tried that
>       version, but would like to know user experiences.

Actually a slimmed down Emacs isn't so big.

>       What are the basic differences between the dos/windoze and
>       unix/linux versions of emacs?

The differences get smaller all of the time.  The biggest problem is
that Emacs expects to be on a UNIXy system.  The simple things like
directory delimeters ('\' instead of '/') are taken care of, but Emacs
does rely on some outside programs for some functionality, and in
Windows these programs just aren't there.  Emacs + Cygwin gets pretty
close, but it isn't nearly as easy to set up and maintain as Emacs is
on a Debian GNU/Linux box (where apt does most of the work).  However,
Emacs on Windows is certainly better than a sharp stick in the eye.

>       What all configs and files do I have to carry around if I want
>       emacs everywhere to have the same colors/settings and such?

At the very least you are going to want to carry your .emacs file
around with you.  If you have add-on packages that you use quite a bit
you might want to carry around an ~/emacs-lisp directory as well.  If
you play with the colors using an .Xdefaults file (on X Windows)
you'll want to carry that around as well.  I believe that this
information can now be put in your .emacs file as well, but I don't
know.  I used to use custom colors, but I decided a while back that I
would just get used to the default.  Now I prefer the default :).

>       How to auomatically spell-check while typing text?

M-x flyspell-mode

If your system is correctly set up this should just work.  Under
Windows you will probably need to install ispell (or aspell) and tweak
your .emacs file.

>       How to use syntax-highlighting in emacs? Is there syntax-
>       highlighting in emacs like in vim?

C-h v global-font-lock-mode

>       How to use and set word-wrap in emacs?

M-q or M-x auto-fill-mode

>       How to justify text in emacs? How to format text?

There are piles  of functions to do this sort  of thing.  For example,
by calling  'M-x set-justification-full' Emacs will  now fully justify
the  paragraph as  you type.   By playing  around it  is easy  to find
'set-justification-left' and 'set-justification-right'. 

     A  little  bit  of  work  will  also allow  you  to  indent  your
     paragraphs simply  by adding  spaces to the  first line  and then
     hitting tab  on the second  (that will automatically jump  to the
     /correct'  place.  Then  simply  refill the  paragraph 'M-q'  and
     Emacs does the rest. 

Hanging indents  are also  easy.  Simply add  the spaces in  the right
    place  and Emacs  will do  the rest  intelligently.  It  really is
    pretty amazing how talented 'fill-paragraph' is. 

(and now let's turn off the full justification).  And that's really
only the tip of the iceberg.  Emacs is far more than a simple text
editor when it comes to free form text and what it will do for you.

>       How to use a console-based graphics viewer (zgv or fbi or feh)
>       from within emacs?

No idea.  I tend to run X Windows on boxes where I want to view

>       How to view pdf files in emacs? I had read somewhere about a
>       console pdf viewer (using frame buffer), called cpdf and another
>       similar one called, bmv which views postscript file using frame
>       buffer. The former I couldn't find. bmv, I haven't able to use
>       successfully even aftere converting many pdf files to ps. If
>       anyone uses these or any other console pdf viewer, can he/she
>       recommend it?

Install the pdfutils that come with xpdf and then simply use

>       I want to load the todoo-mode for all files that are within
>       ~/todo folder, whichever I load in to emacs anytime. What do I
>       have to put in .emacs to do this?

No idea.

>       Is there a list of websites and lisp files that I can just
>       download and then configure and install in to emacs, offline?
>       If anyone has such a list of such urls, can I please have it?
>       It will help me, since I can't connect for long to
>       read/surf/download and such.

I like

but I don't where you could get a copy for offline perusal.  Perhaps
wget would help?

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