Friday, April 12, 2019

The Embarrassingly Simple Source for An Up To Date Windows Version of emacs

I recently replaced my no-name mini PC with a might-as-well-be-no-name Kingdel NC860 mini PC. These fanless desktop computers have a great form factor, dual monitor support, plenty of USB ports and a bare-bones feel that I love. Credit goes to Coding Horror for inspiring my first purchase of this type of device.

I've recently switched from Firefox to Chrome as my primary browser of choice, and 1password as my password manager. The result: installing Chrome and logging in using both my Work and Personal e-mail meant that my web-based life was essentially setup. Installing Cygwin, Gimp and AutoHotKey meant that I had a nearly complete dev environment. All that was left to do was to install emacs.

At this point, I usually Google around to find the latest version of Windows friendly emacs, often ending up on this sourceforge site. On a whim, however, I thought I'd try something different: I installed emacs via cygwin.

My expectation was that I'd get a console only emacs. And my assumption was totally wrong. I ended up with the same Windows friendly emacs I'm used to, except a whole slew of issues had been resolved. I'm used to emacs operating in terms of Windows drive paths, while cygwin works in terms of a unix'y path mapping. By using a cygwin based emacs, the two environments are now in sync.

A number of issues with eshell were magically fixed, too. #! detection and signal handling (hitting Control-c) in eshell wasn't reliable in my old Windows emacs setup, whereas it's working well under cygwin based emacs.

Finally, the cygwin version of emacs is as up to date as the GNU site offers: version 26.1.

Why didn't I try this years ago?

It blows my mind that I can go from new PC to working dev environment in 15 minutes and zero dollars spent on software.

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