[OS X Emacs] Returning to Emacs

pete.siemsen at gmail.com pete.siemsen at gmail.com
Thu Apr 15 19:34:13 EDT 2010

It's interesting that you tried TextMate and went back to Aquamacs.  So did I.  TextMate has nice features (demo'd very well in tutorial videos) so I bought it and used it for over a year.  I learned enough to write my own TextMate bundles (they're like major modes) to get syntax highlighting of Cisco router config files, which I "edit" in a read-only fashion quite a bit.  I had a bit of an argument on the TextMate support list because TextMate doesn't support opening a file read-only, and the TextMate users couldn't see the value of it.

I went away from TextMate for the same primary reason as you - I need to edit files on Linux systems, and I don't want to know 2 big powerful text editors.  With Aquamacs, I have good success mounting remote files via SAMBA or via TRAMP, which is built into Aquamacs.  I struggled enough to write an Emacs mode to syntax-highlight Cisco configs, so now I have everything I want. 

As for your questions:

1.  I played with Emacs.app once, just to compare it to Aquamacs.  It seemed to me that Aquamacs has a deeper commitment to Mac OS X, and wasn't missing anything that Emacs.app had.  That said, when I moved from XEmacs to Aquamacs, I had a bit of trouble adjusting to Aquamacs' support for editing HTML files, which I do a lot.  I had years of experience using html-mode under XEmacs on Linux.  Aquamacs comes with html-helper-mode, which is quite different.  Html-mode is hard to install into Aquamacs, so I just had to adjust to html-helper-mode.

2. When I first started using Mac OS X, I just used X11, and display xterms and XEmacs frames from remote systems onto my Mac.  I gradually switched to Terminal, which is better than xterm - it integrates well with other Mac apps, and fonts look better (Menlo rules).  I now don't run X11 at all.  To edit files on remote Linux systems, I either mount the remote filesystems via SAMBA, and open them with Aquamacs, or I use TRAMP in Aquamacs, which uses ssh.  Either way, meta keys aren't an issue - it's all Aquamacs.

3. After years of Linux, I switched to Mac OS X because people I respect said that the system administration load is lighter - "it just works".  They were right.  Also, I was tired of the weird app names in Linux: to play music, you use "xmms"!  I didn't care about the arcane pros and cons of KDE vs. GNOME.  And the apps just don't know about each other very well.  Now I use Mail.app, Safari, Address Book, iCal, iTunes, Aquamacs, OmniFocus, OmniGraffle, JumpStart, TextExpander, DropBox, and *real* Microsoft Office to look at Microsoft Office files.  The apps know how to talk to each other through Services, which enables lots of power user tricks.  Aquamacs does a great job in the Mac environment, though it doesn't integrate as well as other Apple-only apps.  It doesn't support Services, so it doesn't do drag-and-drop well, and can't do the one TextMate feature that I really miss: "Edit in TextMate".  That feature lets you hit a hot key when you're in a text field on a web form, and a TextMate window appears, so you can use TextMate to, say, write a bug report.  I don't use Aquamacs for mail or chat.  I use ediff in Aquamacs instead of Unix 'diff'.  I use Man in Aquamacs instead of Unix 'man'.  When I read UseNet news, I use Aquamacs and GNUS.  I use Aquamacs to edit bash, Perl, Python, Java, Ruby.  I use X-Code to edit Objective-C.  I'm dabbling with Eclipse to edit Java, ANTLR and Python, but I seem to fall back to Aquamacs when I need to get work done.  Finally, of course, isn't it wonderful that Eclipse, NetBeans, bash, and most Mac Cocoa apps provide Emacs-style text navigation?

Finally, thank you, thank you, David Reitter!

-- Pete

On Apr 15, 2010, at 9:19 AM, David Frascone wrote:

> Like most of you, I started my unix experience YEARS ago with vi.  About ten years ago, I started using emacs, and was a religious zealot for several years.  But, times changed, jobs changed, and I found myself using whatever was around.  It got tedious to move my emacs configuration around, and, Xemacs (I was using a sun version of Xemacs) was barely compatible with emacs, at the time.
> Anyway, now I'm fully entrenched into OS X, and I've decided to move from Textmate back to emacs.  Mainly because I'm working on Linux boxes all day, using my Mac to ssh into them, and I want an editor that I can run on my mac, and, on the linux boxes, without screwing up keystrokes all the time.  So, given this transition, I've got several, completely unrelated (to each other) questions:
> Not to start a flame war, but, now that Aquamacs is based on version 23, and cocoa-emacs is not going to be maintained any more, there are only three viable emacsen to choose from: Aquamacs, http://emacsformacosx.com/ and the emacs that comes on OS X in the terminal.  Is there a guide anywhere showing the major differences?  For me, pretty much a noob to OS X emacs, I only notice two major differences between Emacs.app and Aquamacs:  Aquamacs has tabs, and, Aquamacs uses CMD for meta, instead of Option.
> Slightly related to the above, does anyone know how to make the Meta keys all the same?  If I ssh to a linux box, and have the X display set right, the CMD is the meta key.  If I unset it, and use the terminal version, the option key is the meta.  Similarly, in a terminal on OS X the option is the meta key.  I'd like for all my Meta's to be the same, for obvious reasons . . any ideas?
> Emacs is a very big hammer. . . . but, I know the fallacy of everything looking like a nail.  I considered using ERC for irc, then using BitlBee to move all IM over to it.  But, then, if I need to refresh my emacs.el, I'd lose all my sessions, etc.  So, instead, I decided to move my IRC over to adium, so I have all my chats in one place.  Do any of you guys use emacs to replace any of OS X's normal tools?  (i.e. I use Thunderbird instead of Mail.app, and I know emacs does mail, but, seems like a bit of an overkill to use it for everything, just because it *can* do everything -- what does it really do best, on OS X, besides edit text files)?
> I guess that's about it . . . sorry if any of these questions cause flamage.  I attempted to search the archives, but there wasn't any search function, and I got tired of clicking the different months :)
> -Dave
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