Building Emacs 28 on Ubuntu Linux
Emacs 28.1 is a feature packed release and includes native compilation to significantly increase the speed of all Emacs software packages installed. This is a very noticeable difference, especially when Emacs is at the center of your developer workflow.
Ubuntu hasn't packaged Emacs 28.1 yet, although its usually straight forward to build Emacs yourself.
A very brief summaryλ︎
Download Emacs 28 source code and open a terminal in the root of the extracted emacs28-1 directory
Read the rest of the article for a more detailed description
Software & Updates and ensure the Source Code source is enabled and reload the package list (or run
sudo apt update in a terminal after adding Source Code)
Ask Ubuntu to install the packages required to build Emacs (there will be quite a few packages if this is the first software built with GCC on the operating system)
The previous approach was to use
sudo apt-get install build-essential gcc git-core. Using build-deps manages the set of packages required as Emacs evolves.
Install some additional libraries to support the newest features of Emacs, native compilation of Emacs packages (
libgccjit) and fast JSON processing (
libjansson). These really boost performance, so are important to add.
On Ubuntu 20.04
sudo apt-get install gnutls-binremoves a potential issue from an older certificates library
Preparing Emacs source codeλ︎
Download Emacs 28.1 source from a nearby GNU mirror, either tar.gz or tar.xz
Extract the source code using nautilus, file-roller or in a terminal with the command
tar zvxf emacs-28.1.tar.xz
In a terminal window, change into the emacs28.1 directory
CXX environment variables to inform the Emacs configuration script as to the location of gcc-10, otherwise it fails to find libgccjit
If CC and CXX environment variables are not set, the configure script will not find important libraries and report errors such as:
configure: error: ELisp native compiler was requested, but libgccjit was not found.
Run the autogen script to create a configure script specific to your operating system.
Run the configuration script with the native compilation flag. This script will check the operating system for tools and libraries needed to build Emacs on your operating system.
Check the output of
./configure was successful, see the end of this article for an example. Ignore warnings about movemail if not using Emacs for local email management.
./configure --helplists available flags. Generally features are enabled if the required libraries are installed on the operating system. A noticeable exception is native compilation, as its a relatively new feature and not enabled by default.
Building Emacs locallyλ︎
Build Emacs using all the CPU's of your computer.
-j flag specifies the number of CPU's to use,
nproc command returns the total number of CPU's for the computer (real and virtual cores combined).
Run Emacs using the
-Q option to check Emacs runs without using a users configuration file (e.g. without loading an `~/.emacs.d/ configuration)
C-x C-c to quit Emacs.
If Emacs runs then it is ready to install.
Install Emacs system wideλ︎
/usr/local/bin along with supporting libraries and man pages using the Makefile
To install in a different location, pass the full path using the
--prefix option to make, e.g
make install --prefix /opt/emacs
If the default
/usr/local path was used to install Emacs, then the
emacsclient binary files are already on the executable path
In a terminal, run the emacs command
If using Emacs 28 with Spacemacs for the first time, all Spacemacs packages in your configuration will be downloaded and compiled. This may take 5-15 minutes and Emacs may make full use of your CPU (spawning several emacs processes on multi-core computers)
Leave Emacs for a few minutes running until the CPU activity has subsided and then consider restarting Emacs to ensure the packages have been loaded in the correct order.
Expect to see lots of warning messages when installing more than 250 emacs packages. Ignore these warnings until all packages have been installed. If warnings still occur after restarting Emacs, then start investigating (or ask questions on #spacemacs channel in the Clojurians Slack community)
In the Emacs source code directory where Emacs was built, use the Makefile to remove the Emacs binaries, libraries and man pages.
Emacs build configure outputλ︎
Typical output of
Almost all configuration options should be yes, although there are a few legacy libraries or settings for other OSs that should be no.
Configured for 'x86_64-pc-linux-gnu'.
Where should the build process find the source code? .
What compiler should emacs be built with? /usr/bin/gcc-10 -g3 -O2
Should Emacs use the GNU version of malloc? no
(The GNU allocators don't work with this system configuration.)
Should Emacs use a relocating allocator for buffers? no (use operating system allocator)
Should Emacs use mmap(2) for buffer allocation? no (use operating system mmap)
What window system should Emacs use? x11
What toolkit should Emacs use? GTK3
Where do we find X Windows header files? Standard dirs
Where do we find X Windows libraries? Standard dirs
Does Emacs use -lXaw3d? no (superseded by gtk)
Does Emacs use -lXpm? yes
Does Emacs use -ljpeg? yes
Does Emacs use -ltiff? yes
Does Emacs use a gif library? yes -lgif
Does Emacs use a png library? yes -lpng16 -lz
Does Emacs use -lrsvg-2? yes
Does Emacs use cairo? yes
Does Emacs use -llcms2? yes
Does Emacs use imagemagick? no (deprecated Emacs 27.1 - security issues)
Does Emacs use native APIs for images? no (only for MS-Windows)
Does Emacs support sound? yes
Does Emacs use -lgpm? yes
Does Emacs use -ldbus? yes
Does Emacs use -lgconf? no
Does Emacs use GSettings? yes
Does Emacs use a file notification library? yes -lglibc (inotify)
Does Emacs use access control lists? yes -lacl
Does Emacs use -lselinux? yes
Does Emacs use -lgnutls? yes
Does Emacs use -lxml2? yes
Does Emacs use -lfreetype? yes
Does Emacs use HarfBuzz? yes
Does Emacs use -lm17n-flt? yes
Does Emacs use -lotf? yes
Does Emacs use -lxft? no
Does Emacs use -lsystemd? yes
Does Emacs use -ljansson? yes
Does Emacs use the GMP library? yes
Does Emacs directly use zlib? yes
Does Emacs have dynamic modules support? yes
Does Emacs use toolkit scroll bars? yes
Does Emacs support Xwidgets? no (deprecated)
Does Emacs have threading support in lisp? yes
Does Emacs support the portable dumper? yes
Does Emacs support legacy unexec dumping? no
Which dumping strategy does Emacs use? pdumper
Does Emacs have native lisp compiler? yes
- Emacs 28.1 whats new - a very detailed description of new features in Emacs 28.1
- Emacs Wiki - Building Emacs - base instructions for building Emacs
- Ubuntu Emacs LISP team PPA - nightly builds from the latest Emacs commits