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

From: Jason Earl
Subject: Re: Fwd: A few Emacs newbie questions, need oldbie answers :)
Date: Sun, 25 Apr 2004 12:55:49 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.1006 (Gnus v5.10.6) Emacs/21.3 (gnu/linux)

Deboo <> writes:

> On Tue, Apr 20, 2004 at 01:00:52PM +0200, Daan Hoogland wrote:
>>From: Daan Hoogland <>
> [Snip]
>>>From: Jason Earl <>
>>>Date: 20 april 2004 7:11:25 GMT+02:00
>>>Subject: Re: A few Emacs newbie questions, need oldbie answers :)
>>>Deboo <> writes:
> [Snip]
>>>>      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.
>         I'm using debian linux and the lisp files are in
>         /usr/share/emacs/site-lisp directory. Some files here are names
>         xxxx-el, some just xxxx, and some as xxxx.el, whereas some
>         others as xxxx.elc . I don't understand lisp or programming so I dont
>         know what is the difference, but could I move this directory to
>         my home directory and inform emacs somehow that this directory
>         is in my home dir?

Yes, I suppose that I wasn't quite clear enough in my instructions.
The recipe that I gave for installing emacs-lisp packages was for
installing them for my own user account (and not for all users on my
machine).  I tend to let Debian take care of the installation of all
site wide packages, that way I don't get conflicts it some of the
Debian-controlled configuration files.  I use Debian packages for
whatever is included in Debian, and if I need something else then I
install it in my home directory in ~/emacs-lisp.  The directives that
make this a part of my Emacs load path are in my .emacs file (actually
.emacs.el), and so I don't get conflicts.

>>>>      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.
>         Actually I haven't really seen any console utility which would
>         have many features or be a PIM sort of thing. Not like Evolution
>         and Outlook but something decent for console. I wonder if a
>         decent one exists. I remember having asked this question to bob
>         on the debian irc channel, an year or so ago and got a response
>         that he just uses emacs.

Actually BBDB is pretty amazing as a way to keep track of contacts.
Gnus and spam.el will even use your .bbdb file as a whitelist, and
there are tools to synch bbdb with Palm-based PDAs.

It's the calendar bit that's tricky.  I have tried calendar-mode
(which I like), and planner.el (which shows potential).  Unfortunately
I do most of my actual planning on my PDA, and Emacs is a little weak
in this area.

>>>>      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.
>         I will still need to think hard what I'll have to use for
>         backup since my home directory is _large_.

Yes, that's generally the real problem.  If you only want to back up
your Emacs config then copying .emacs somewhere else is probably good
enough.  In my case I would also back up my ~/emacs-lisp directory
because it has some small packages I have written myself.

>>>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.
>         I had actually gone thru it but it's been a long while and
>         then I had stopped using emacs, just used t be fasinated and
>         usd to install emacs and all the goodies and keep it in the
>         show case and use vim. Well, even right now I'm using vim
>         since it's the editor defined in mutt, but I'm pressing
>         Ctrl-K to delete lines instead of pressing dd ... lol that's
>         emacs inductance?

Switching over from vim to Emacs for reading mail is what really
signified my last major usage of vim.  Once I was using Emacs for
coding, documentation (with LaTeX or Texinfo), and email then there
wasn't really much left for vim to do.  I still tend to use vi for
quick systems administration tasks, and for dealing with really large
files (like logfiles), but that's about it.  When I get homesick for
vi-style keystrokes I simply use viper.

>>>>      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.

>         Well, I researched on this one a bit. I read the info docs
>         and saw emacs-goodies-el has a cycle-buffer-forward and
>         cycle-buffer-backward commands and we can bind these to M-N
>         and M-P in .emacs, according to the info, but when I do this
>         and start emacs, I get errors pointing me to these
>         lines. When I remove the macros, emacs starts okay. Can
>         anything be done so that these bindings work?

What exactly did you add to your .emacs file?  I don't generally
rebind keys (I use Emacs on too many machines), but I am sure that
what you want to do is possible.

>>>>      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.
>         For now I've put vim and jed, may be if I could find a small
>         version of emacs, i would put that along.
>>>>      How to auomatically spell-check while typing text?
>>>M-x flyspell-mode
>         Very cool, and it seems to be fast. I don't know why vim becomes
>         super slow in insert mode ... seems to have some problem with
>         ispell/aspell. Wonder what is causing this.
>>>>      How to use and set word-wrap in emacs?
>>>M-q or M-x auto-fill-mode
>         How would I put this in .emacs so emacs always has word-wrap
>         on?  Would this be a nice thing to do?

M-x customize-variable text-mode-hook

This will let you turn on both auto-fill-mode and flyspell-mode for
all text buffers.  Very handy.

>>>>      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
>         It's alright for now to use zgv or the others but would love
>         to have one under emacs. Maybe it would be a resource hog
>         under emacs.  I'll try searching for one.

I think that the real problem is that graphics are relatively new to
Emacs even under X Windows.  I can't imagine that the Emacs hackers
have even tried to deal with the graphics on the console.

>>>>      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.
>         I found another way to do it. Putting "-*- todoo -*-" on first
>         line ( or second line if the first contains #!/bin/sh), and then
>         opening any such file, would automatically put the file in that
>         mode. I tried using two modes instead of one but that didn't
>         have any success.
> A few mode questions if you or anyone has the time and wouldn't mind:
> How to get yellow color on emacs in console? Yellow always shows up as
>   brownish-red.
> Why does Emacs load all files in to the scratch buffer? If it's a file,
> and we've modified it, emacs asks us to save it before quitting but
> doesn't ask any such thing if we've typed in to the scratch buffer.
> How to autosave the scratch buffer? Sometimes I jot down something useful,
> in to the scratch buffer when there's no time to think of a filename etc.

The *scratch* buffer is a special case.  In fact, I think that this is
part of the Emacs FAQ.  Emacs has to start up with a buffer, and so it
starts with *scratch*.  This buffer is made somewhat useful because it
starts in elisp mode (so you can test scratch emacs programs).  I have
a ~/notes buffer that I have Emacs load automatically that I use for a
scratch pad.

> How to make a custom dictionary and load it in emacs? How to use
>   autocompletion for long words in the custom dictionary? How to use
>   emacspeak? Do I need to become blind to use emacspeak or can anyone
>   use it?

Take a look at the documentation for abbrev mode.  It allows for all
sorts of keystroke shortcuts.  For example, when typing in my Journal
all I have to do is insert 'kk' and I get

> How to print from emacs, in color (with background, foreground and
>   syntax-highlight colors)?

That's a good question.  I tend to use a2ps to fancy print text files.
What does ps-print-region and ps-print-buffer get you?  If you like
the results you might want to take a look at ps-print-customize.

> Thanks a lot for the detailed replies, thanks to others too who replied.
> I haven't been getting any messages on this list sine last 5 days or
> more, so please cc me a copy if you reply.

No sweat.  Fact of the matter is that I am simply spending a bit of
time sharpening my Emacs skills.  Helping others is a pretty efficient
way to do that.

> Regards,
> Deboo
> P.S: I downloaded a copy of the a few days ago, with help from
> Alex but couldn't figure out then how to open it. I renamed it to
> wiki.html and am now enjoying it. Only thing I would like to use an imap
> supporting and ssl supporting email client so wanderlust comes close to
> this, but I couldn't find much of anything in the wiki about wanderlust,
> except a little bit of undocumented config and a bit of it's features.
> Where can I find such info.

Gnus supports both IMAP and SSL (as does VM, I believe).  I personally
really like Gnus.


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