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Emacs' GNU Look: A Sneak Preview of Emacs 21.0 - page 2

The More Things Change....

  • December 18, 2000
  • By Michael Hall

So, a little while back some screenshots began to surface along with some wild rumors: Emacs, according to some, was in the midst of an overhaul so drastic that it was actually being GNOMEified. I was both curious and frightened: love Emacs, like GNOME, remember how hideous it looked under KDE until I got rid of a few files. Since I'm not, by the way, a software engineer, consternation over Emacs being married to Bonobo was an afterthought.

I got a look at some of the screenshots, wrote a few letters, and set out to learn more. I tried to get into the Emacs testing group only to find out that it's very, very closed to non-Lisp-coding, non-exotic-hardware running rabble. At one point I thought I had a lead on an FTP archive where the source was waiting to be plucked like so much ripe fruit, but it led to a dead end and an empty directory.

I did learn, though, that the GNOMEification rumors were just that: rumors. One correspondent who did have access to the latest source searched and couldn't find so much as a GTK call anywhere in the tree. I settled down a little. At least I wasn't missing out on the grand unification of my desktop. It nagged at me, though. There was a prettier, more intuitive Emacs out there, somewhere, and I wasn't allowed to see it.

I finally got my break on Friday afternoon when a helpful soul pointed me to an out-of-the-way repository with Emacs 21.0 sitting in it. My 1.5 Mb DSL connection made short work of the download, and a few minutes later I was ready to run the latest and greatest.

I've spent a few days playing around with this release now, and, having struggled to read the change summary past around line 2000, I can only say that the Emacs sitting on my desktop today is different. How different is dependent on the user, but that incredible customizability is obviously still there, and fairly easy to take advantage of for making some interesting changes to the way Emacs works.

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