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Spacemacs is a configuration for Emacs, so naturally Emacs should be installed before Spacemacs can be used.

Clojure CLI should be installed to support Clojure development, along with several supporting development tools.

Command Line Tools support searching for files and spell checking.

Install Emacsλ︎

GNU Emacs logo

Emacs 28 is recommended as it includes native compilation support and optomised JSON support which is valuable for Language Server Protocol servers.

Emacs is available for Linux, MacOSX and Windows. The Spacemacs Readme suggested ways to install Emacs

Emacs Version 28 recommended

Emacs 28 is recommended with native compilation of Elisp, which can have a significant improvement on Emacs package performance. Emacs 27.1 is the minimum version supported by Practicalli Spacemacs

apt-cache show emacs to check available versions of Emacs in the Ubuntu package manager. If version 28 is available, install Emacs using the Ubuntu package manager.

sudo apt install emacs

Additional versions of Emacs are available via the Ubuntu Emacs Team Personal Package Archive.

sudo apt install emacs-snapshot package to use the latest nightly build of Emacs, although be aware that some things may break.

Build Emacs 28 from source

Building Emacs 28 from source code on Ubuntu is relatively straight forward task, although it will take a little time to compile. Building Emacs allows customisation of some features, such as native compilatin of elisp to enhance the performance of Emacs.

Emacs Plus from Homebrew provides many options, including native compilation and Spacemacs Icon for application launchers.

brew tap d12frosted/emacs-plus
brew install emacs-plus@28 --with-native-comp --with-spacemacs-icon is installed to: /usr/local/opt/emacs-plus@28

Optionally run Emacs plus as a service

brew services start d12frosted/emacs-plus/emacs-plus@28

Run emacs

Get a hot cup of something as Emacs native compilation compiles all the things.

The Spacemacs README lists other options for MacOSX.

Download Emacs-28.2 from the GNU repository and extract the zip file to %AppData%/local/Programs/emacs.

Alternatively, if you are using the Chocolatey package manager then install Emacs version 28

Add the Emacs directory to the PATH variable in your user account environment variables.

To start Emacs run the command runemacs.exe. You can also pin this to the start menu or task bar.

Access to common Unix tools

Command line tools, such as diff, are used by Emacs. To have these command line tools available in Windows, install Emacs as above but then run emacs from a Unix shell such as GitBash.

Install Emacs (64bits build) with the following:

pacman -S mingw-w64-x86_64-emacs

Install Clojure CLIλ︎

Clojure logo

Practicalli Clojure Install Guide

Clojure CLI provide a simple and configurable way to:

  • Run Clojure programs and tools
  • Run an interactive REPL (Read-Eval-Print Loop) and evaluate Clojure expressions, usually with a Clojure aware editor
  • Managing dependencies (via tools.deps) from Maven and Git repositories

Using community tools on top of Clojure CLI tools provides tasks to create, develop, build and deploy Clojure applications and services

Follow the Practicalli Clojure Install Guide to install Clojure and supporting tools.

Command Line Toolsλ︎

Command Line icon

Emacs uses several external command line tools. There are some very efficient search tools that are recommended (ripgrep, silver searcher).

Consider installing these tools to enhance your Spacemacs experience.

spell checkλ︎

spell-checking layer in Spacemacs supports ispell, hunspell, and aspell command line tools. Aspell is the recommended spell checking tool.

Aspell binary is usually installed on Unix systems by default. Use sudo apt instal aspell if not already present.

brew install aspell

Search text buffers uses an external search tool. Although grep is available in most operating systems, ripgrep (rg) or silver-searcher (ag) offer far greater performance and have more search options.

dotspacemacs-search-tools '("rg" "ag" "pt" "ack" "grep") in the Spacemacs configuration defines the order of preference for the search tool to use.

ripgrep (rg) Silver Searcher (ag)

Find filesλ︎

Space p opens the projectile menu for finding files relative to the current project. Projectile uses the external command line tool find to index files that are not part of a version controlled project (using git for projects versioned with Git).

fd is an external command line binary that is faster than the find command. If installed, projectile will automatically use fd instead of find

fd install instructions by operating system


The locate binary is used by Space f L (helm-locate) to find files and directories on the operating system file space.

helm-locate is the fastest way to search for files across the whole file space on your computer as it uses the updatedb database. If a file was very recently added to the file system, run sudo updatedb to ensure all files are in the database.

sudo apt install locate

findutils Homebrew findutils

brew install findutils

Last update: January 29, 2023