It is no secret that I use GNU Emacs as my default text editor. It is perhaps less evident but no less relevant that I use Emacs 24. I really like the built-in color theme support and the package management system for getting the various modes I like to use.

Recently, I revamped my Emacs configuration. This post isn’t about that topic. Instead, this post is about how I made sure that all the systems I want to use Emacs on have the latest version available.

Unfortunately, Emacs 24 is still unreleased, so it is not available as the default package on the distributions I use for my personal systems (Ubuntu/Debian flavors). I wrote a recipe to install Emacs from source. This is easy enough to do, but since I already automate everything on my home network with Chef, it was a natural fit for a new recipe. I simply added this to my local emacs cookbook, in recipes/source24.rb.

srcdir = "#{Chef::Config[:file_cache_path]}/emacs-source"

%w{ git-core build-essential texinfo autoconf libncurses-dev }.each {|prereq| package prereq}

git "#{Chef::Config[:file_cache_path]}/emacs-source" do
  repository "git://"
  action :checkout

bash "build emacs24" do
  cwd srcdir
  creates "#{srcdir}/src/emacs"
  code <<-EOH
    ./ && \
    ./configure --without-x && \
    make bootstrap && \
    make 2>&1 >| make-#{}-#{node['ohai_time']}

execute "install emacs24" do
  cwd srcdir
  command "make install 2>&1 >| make-#{}-#{node['ohai_time']}"
  creates "/usr/local/bin/emacs"
  only_if "#{srcdir}/src/emacs --version"

Then I updated my base role to replace recipe[emacs] with recipe[emacs::source24] and ran Chef. It took about 25 minutes to do the build, but now I have the same version of Emacs everywhere, and there was much rejoicing.

And yes, you’re absolutely right, I could just build a package and install that. However, I don’t want to set up and maintain a package management repository for my small network, as easy as that may be.

My OS X systems are a special case because I’m using Homebrew, but the homebrew cookbook does not [yet?] support install-time options, and I didn’t spend the time adding support for building the OS X Emacs w/ cocoa support from git. When I tackle that, I’ll make another post, so stay tuned!