Emacs Software

5 Best Free Configuration Frameworks for Emacs

Getting to grips with Emacs is not easy. In fact, it can be one of the steepest learning curves for newcomers. Learning the concepts and being productive with this editor to produce your own dotfiles from afresh takes time and a fair chunk of effort.

But there’s a much easier way to start being productive. There are numerous projects that produce their own package of configuration. These configuration frameworks take the vanilla Emacs and add their own configuration files, pre-defined internal commands, and configurations for various plug-ins (known as packages). In essence these configuration framework replace your .emacs.d directory, offering an easy to use Emacs configuration for Emacs newcomers and lots of additional power for Emacs power users. The configuration frameworks are sometimes labelled Emacs distributions.

In our eyes, these configuration frameworks are a stepping stone. You can use these configuration frameworks, tailor them to your own preferences, and, in less time, fully master the power of this operating system editor.

The chart below presents the best configuration frameworks available for Emacs.

Best Free Emacs Configuration Frameworks

Let’s explore the 5 configuration frameworks at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, together with links to relevant resources.

Configuration Framework for Emacs
SpacemacsExtremely polished configuration framework for Emacs
Doom EmacsHighly polished configuration framework for Emacs
PreludeEmacs distribution that aims to enhance the default Emacs experience
Purcell EmacsEmacs configuration bundle with batteries included
Centaur EmacsA Fancy and Fast Emacs Configuration

And if you want to use multiple Emacs configurations together, we recommend Chemacs. It’s a refined Emacs profile switcher.

Over the years, one of the most emotive areas in the world of Linux is the choice of text editor. Some people are strong advocates of Vim, others prefer Emacs. And there’s tons of other text editors available with strong backing. Having robust opinions is the way the land lies in Linux.

Emacs has a long and revered history. The original program was written in 1976 as a set of macros for an existing text editor called TECO. Emacs originally was an acronym for Editor MACroS, unifying the many TECO command sets and key bindings. TECO is both a character-oriented text editor and an interpreted programming language for text manipulation.

Emacs has come a long way since 1976. It offers a robust Lisp interpreter that is hugely extensible and hackable. It brought to light lots of novel concepts such as an infinite clipboard, tree-based exploration of history, a reverse variable search, structural editing of code, and recursive editing that let you stop what you are doing, perform other edits, and then revert back to the original task.

Return to our complete collection of recommended free and open source software including our latest additions. And we have written these series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts.
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  1. The title is amusing, as far as I know, there aren’t any paid pre-built configurations for Emacs. I’m sure the various authors won’t mind a donation though.

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