Newer Older
Kim F. Storm's avatar
Kim F. Storm committed
1 2
Known Problems with GNU Emacs

Copyright (C) 1987-1989, 1993-1999, 2001-2014 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
4 5 6
See the end of the file for license conditions.

Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed
This file describes various problems that have been encountered
8 9
in compiling, installing and running GNU Emacs.  Try doing C-c C-t
and browsing through the outline headers.  (See C-h m for help on
10 11 12
Outline mode.)  Information about systems that are no longer supported,
and old Emacs releases, has been removed.  Consult older versions of
this file if you are interested in that information.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

* Mule-UCS doesn't work in Emacs 23 onwards
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed
15 16 17

It's completely redundant now, as far as we know.

* Emacs startup failures

** Emacs fails to start, complaining about missing fonts.

A typical error message might be something like

  No fonts match `-*-fixed-medium-r-*--6-*-*-*-*-*-iso8859-1'
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

This happens because some X resource specifies a bad font family for
Emacs to use.  The possible places where this specification might be are:
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

  - in your ~/.Xdefaults file
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

31 32 33
  - client-side X resource file, such as  ~/Emacs or
    /usr/X11R6/lib/app-defaults/Emacs or
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

35 36 37
One of these files might have bad or malformed specification of a
fontset that Emacs should use.  To fix the problem, you need to find
the problematic line(s) and correct them.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

** Emacs aborts while starting up, only when run without X.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49
This problem often results from compiling Emacs with GCC when GCC was
installed incorrectly.  The usual error in installing GCC is to
specify --includedir=/usr/include.  Installation of GCC makes
corrected copies of the system header files.  GCC is supposed to use
the corrected copies in preference to the original system headers.
Specifying --includedir=/usr/include causes the original system header
files to be used.  On some systems, the definition of ioctl in the
original system header files is invalid for ANSI C and causes Emacs
not to work.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

51 52 53 54
The fix is to reinstall GCC, and this time do not specify --includedir
when you configure it.  Then recompile Emacs.  Specifying --includedir
is appropriate only in very special cases and it should *never* be the
same directory where system header files are kept.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

** Emacs does not start, complaining that it cannot open termcap database file.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

58 59 60 61
If your system uses Terminfo rather than termcap (most modern
systems do), this could happen if the proper version of
ncurses is not visible to the Emacs configure script (i.e. it
cannot be found along the usual path the linker looks for
libraries).  It can happen because your version of ncurses is
obsolete, or is available only in form of binaries.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

65 66 67 68
The solution is to install an up-to-date version of ncurses in
the developer's form (header files, static libraries and
symbolic links); in some GNU/Linux distributions (e.g. Debian)
it constitutes a separate package.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

** Emacs 20 and later fails to load Lisp files at startup.

The typical error message might be like this:

  "Cannot open load file: fontset"

76 77 78 79 80 81 82
This could happen if you compress the file lisp/subdirs.el.  That file
tells Emacs what are the directories where it should look for Lisp
files.  Emacs cannot work with subdirs.el compressed, since the
Auto-compress mode it needs for this will not be loaded until later,
when your .emacs file is processed.  (The package `fontset.el' is
required to set up fonts used to display text on window systems, and
it's loaded very early in the startup procedure.)

84 85
Similarly, any other .el file for which there's no corresponding .elc
file could fail to load if it is compressed.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

The solution is to uncompress all .el files that don't have a .elc file.
Kenichi Handa's avatar
Kenichi Handa committed

Another possible reason for such failures is stale *.elc files
lurking somewhere on your load-path -- see the next section.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

** Emacs prints an error at startup after upgrading from an earlier version.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

An example of such an error is:
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

  x-complement-fontset-spec: "Wrong type argument: stringp, nil"
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

98 99 100
This can be another symptom of stale *.elc files in your load-path.
The following command will print any duplicate Lisp files that are
present in load-path:
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

Glenn Morris's avatar
Glenn Morris committed
    emacs -batch -f list-load-path-shadows
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

104 105 106
If this command prints any file names, some of these files are stale,
and should be deleted or their directories removed from your
Simon Josefsson's avatar
Simon Josefsson committed

* Crash bugs

** Emacs crashes when running in a terminal, if compiled with GCC 4.5.0
111 112
This version of GCC is buggy: see

114 115 116 117 118 119 120

You can work around this error in gcc-4.5 by omitting sibling call
optimization.  To do this, configure Emacs with

 CFLAGS="-g -O2 -fno-optimize-sibling-calls" ./configure

121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128
** Emacs compiled with GCC 4.6.1 crashes on MS-Windows when C-g is pressed

This is known to happen when Emacs is compiled with MinGW GCC 4.6.1
with the -O2 option (which is the default in the Windows build).  The
reason is a bug in MinGW GCC 4.6.1; to work around, either add the
`-fno-omit-frame-pointer' switch to GCC or compile without
optimizations (`--no-opt' switch to the configure.bat script).

** Emacs crashes in x-popup-dialog.

131 132 133 134
This can happen if the dialog widget cannot find the font it wants to
use.  You can work around the problem by specifying another font with
an X resource--for example, `Emacs.dialog*.font: 9x15' (or any font that
happens to exist on your X server).
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

** Emacs crashes when you use Bibtex mode.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

138 139 140
This happens if your system puts a small limit on stack size.  You can
prevent the problem by using a suitable shell command (often `ulimit')
to raise the stack size limit before you run Emacs.

142 143
Patches to raise the stack size limit automatically in `main'
(src/emacs.c) on various systems would be greatly appreciated.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

145 146
** Error message `Symbol's value as variable is void: x', followed by
a segmentation fault and core dump.

148 149
This has been tracked to a bug in tar!  People report that tar erroneously
added a line like this at the beginning of files of Lisp code:

   x FILENAME, N bytes, B tape blocks

153 154
If your tar has this problem, install GNU tar--if you can manage to
untar it :-).

** Emacs can crash when displaying PNG images with transparency.
157 158
This is due to a bug introduced in ImageMagick 6.8.2-3.  The bug should
be fixed in ImageMagick 6.8.3-10.  See <URL:>.

160 161 162 163 164
** Crashes when displaying GIF images in Emacs built with version
libungif-4.1.0 are resolved by using version libungif-4.1.0b1.
Configure checks for the correct version, but this problem could occur
if a binary built against a shared libungif is run on a system with an
older version.

** Emacs aborts inside the function `tparam1'.

168 169 170 171 172
This can happen if Emacs was built without terminfo support, but the
terminal's capabilities use format that is only supported by terminfo.
If your system has ncurses installed, this might happen if your
version of ncurses is broken; upgrading to a newer version of ncurses
and reconfiguring and rebuilding Emacs should solve this.

174 175 176
All modern systems support terminfo, so even if ncurses is not the
problem, you should look for a way to configure Emacs so that it uses
terminfo when built.

** Emacs crashes when using some version of the Exceed X server.

180 181 182
Upgrading to a newer version of Exceed has been reported to prevent
these crashes.  You should consider switching to a free X server, such
as Xming or Cygwin/X.

** Emacs crashes with SIGSEGV in XtInitializeWidgetClass.

It crashes on X, but runs fine when called with option "-nw".

188 189 190 191
This has been observed when Emacs is linked with GNU ld but without passing
the -z nocombreloc flag.  Emacs normally knows to pass the -z nocombreloc
flag when needed, so if you come across a situation where the flag is
necessary but missing, please report it via M-x report-emacs-bug.

193 194
On platforms such as Solaris, you can also work around this problem by
configuring your compiler to use the native linker instead of GNU ld.

** When Emacs is compiled with Gtk+, closing a display kills Emacs.

198 199
There is a long-standing bug in GTK that prevents it from recovering
from disconnects:

201 202 203 204
Thus, for instance, when Emacs is run as a server on a text terminal,
and an X frame is created, and the X server for that frame crashes or
exits unexpectedly, Emacs must exit to prevent a GTK error that would
result in an endless loop.

206 207
If you need Emacs to be able to recover from closing displays, compile
it with the Lucid toolkit instead of GTK.

209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229
** Emacs crashes when you try to view a file with complex characters.
For example, the etc/HELLO file (as shown by C-h h).
The message "symbol lookup error: /usr/bin/emacs: undefined symbol: OTF_open"
is shown in the terminal from which you launched Emacs.
This problem only happens when you use a graphical display (ie not
with -nw) and compiled Emacs with the "libotf" library for complex
text handling.

This problem occurs because unfortunately there are two libraries
called "libotf".  One is the library for handling OpenType fonts,, which is the one that Emacs expects.
The other is a library for Open Trace Format, and is used by some
versions of the MPI message passing interface for parallel

For example, on RHEL6 GNU/Linux, the OpenMPI rpm provides a version
of "" in /usr/lib/openmpi/lib.  This directory is not
normally in the ld search path, but if you want to use OpenMPI,
you must issue the command "module load openmpi".  This adds
/usr/lib/openmpi/lib to LD_LIBRARY_PATH.  If you then start Emacs from
the same shell, you will encounter this crash.
Ref: <URL:>
231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238

There is no good solution to this problem if you need to use both
OpenMPI and Emacs with libotf support.  The best you can do is use a
wrapper shell script (or function) "emacs" that removes the offending
element from LD_LIBRARY_PATH before starting emacs proper.
Or you could recompile Emacs with an -Wl,-rpath option that
gives the location of the correct libotf.

* General runtime problems

** Lisp problems

*** Changes made to .el files do not take effect.

245 246 247 248
You may have forgotten to recompile them into .elc files.
Then the old .elc files will be loaded, and your changes
will not be seen.  To fix this, do M-x byte-recompile-directory
and specify the directory that contains the Lisp files.

Emacs prints a warning when loading a .elc file which is older
than the corresponding .el file.

253 254 255 256
Alternatively, if you set the option `load-prefer-newer' non-nil,
Emacs will load whichever version of a file is the newest.

*** Watch out for the EMACSLOADPATH environment variable

EMACSLOADPATH overrides which directories the function "load" will search.

260 261
If you observe strange problems, check for this variable in your
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

*** Using epop3.el package causes Emacs to signal an error.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

The error message might be something like this:

  "Lisp nesting exceeds max-lisp-eval-depth"

269 270 271 272
This happens because epop3 redefines the function gethash, which is a
built-in primitive beginning with Emacs 21.1.  We don't have a patch
for epop3 that fixes this, but perhaps a newer version of epop3
corrects that.

*** Buffers from `with-output-to-temp-buffer' get set up in Help mode.

276 277 278
Changes in Emacs 20.4 to the hooks used by that function cause
problems for some packages, specifically BBDB.  See the function's
documentation for the hooks involved.  BBDB 2.00.06 fixes the problem.

280 281
*** The Hyperbole package causes *Help* buffers not to be displayed in
Help mode due to setting `temp-buffer-show-hook' rather than using
282 283
`add-hook'.  Using `(add-hook 'temp-buffer-show-hook 'help-mode-finish)'
after loading Hyperbole should fix this.

** Keyboard problems

287 288 289 290 291 292
*** Unable to enter the M-| key on some German keyboards.
Some users have reported that M-| suffers from "keyboard ghosting".
This can't be fixed by Emacs, as the keypress never gets passed to it
at all (as can be verified using "xev").  You can work around this by
typing `ESC |' instead.

*** "Compose Character" key does strange things when used as a Meta key.

295 296 297 298 299 300
If you define one key to serve as both Meta and Compose Character, you
will get strange results.  In previous Emacs versions, this "worked"
in that the key acted as Meta--that's because the older Emacs versions
did not try to support Compose Character.  Now Emacs tries to do
character composition in the standard X way.  This means that you
must pick one meaning or the other for any given key.

302 303
You can use both functions (Meta, and Compose Character) if you assign
them to two different keys.

*** C-z just refreshes the screen instead of suspending Emacs.

307 308 309
You are probably using a shell that doesn't support job control, even
though the system itself is capable of it.  Either use a different shell,
or set the variable `cannot-suspend' to a non-nil value.

** Mailers and other helper programs

*** movemail compiled with POP support can't connect to the POP server.

315 316 317 318 319 320
Make sure that the `pop' entry in /etc/services, or in the services
NIS map if your machine uses NIS, has the same port number as the
entry on the POP server.  A common error is for the POP server to be
listening on port 110, the assigned port for the POP3 protocol, while
the client is trying to connect on port 109, the assigned port for the
old POP protocol.

*** RMAIL gets error getting new mail.

324 325 326
RMAIL gets new mail from /usr/spool/mail/$USER using a program
called `movemail'.  This program interlocks with /bin/mail using
the protocol defined by /bin/mail.

328 329 330 331
There are two different protocols in general use.  One of them uses
the `flock' system call.  The other involves creating a lock file;
`movemail' must be able to write in /usr/spool/mail in order to do
this.  You control which one is used by defining, or not defining,
Glenn Morris's avatar
Glenn Morris committed
the macro MAIL_USE_FLOCK in config.h.
333 334

336 337 338 339 340
If your system uses the lock file protocol, and fascist restrictions
prevent ordinary users from writing the lock files in /usr/spool/mail,
you may need to make `movemail' setgid to a suitable group such as
`mail'.  To do this,  use the following commands (as root) after doing the
make install.

342 343
        chgrp mail movemail
        chmod 2755 movemail

345 346 347 348 349 350
Installation normally copies movemail from the build directory to an
installation directory which is usually under /usr/local/lib.  The
installed copy of movemail is usually in the directory
/usr/local/lib/emacs/VERSION/TARGET.  You must change the group and
mode of the installed copy; changing the group and mode of the build
directory copy is ineffective.

*** rcs2log gives you the awk error message "too many fields".

354 355
This is due to an arbitrary limit in certain versions of awk.
The solution is to use gawk (GNU awk).

** Problems with hostname resolution

*** Emacs does not know your host's fully-qualified domain name.

361 362 363
For example, (system-name) returns some variation on
"localhost.localdomain", rather the name you were expecting.

You need to configure your machine with a fully qualified domain name,
(i.e. a name with at least one ".") either in /etc/hosts,
/etc/hostname, the NIS, or wherever your system calls for specifying this.

368 369
If you cannot fix the configuration, you can set the Lisp variable
mail-host-address to the value you want.

** NFS

373 374
*** Emacs says it has saved a file, but the file does not actually
appear on disk.

376 377 378 379 380 381
This can happen on certain systems when you are using NFS, if the
remote disk is full.  It is due to a bug in NFS (or certain NFS
implementations), and there is apparently nothing Emacs can do to
detect the problem.  Emacs checks the failure codes of all the system
calls involved in writing a file, including `close'; but in the case
where the problem occurs, none of those system calls fails.

** PSGML conflicts with sgml-mode.

385 386 387 388 389 390 391
PSGML package uses the same names of some variables (like keymap)
as built-in sgml-mode.el because it was created as a replacement
of that package.  The conflict will be shown if you load
sgml-mode.el before psgml.el.  E.g. this could happen if you edit
HTML page and then start to work with SGML or XML file.  html-mode
(from sgml-mode.el) is used for HTML file and loading of psgml.el
(for sgml-mode or xml-mode) will cause an error.

393 394 395 396 397 398 399 400 401 402 403 404 405 406

*** Lines are not updated or new lines are added in the buffer upon commit.

When committing files located higher in the hierarchy than the examined
directory, some versions of the CVS program return an ambiguous message
from which PCL-CVS cannot extract the full location of the committed
files.  As a result, the corresponding lines in the PCL-CVS buffer are
not updated with the new revision of these files, and new lines are
added to the top-level directory.

This can happen with CVS versions 1.12.8 and 1.12.9.  Upgrade to CVS
1.12.10 or newer to fix this problem.

** Miscellaneous problems

409 410 411 412 413 414
*** Editing files with very long lines is slow.

For example, simply moving through a file that contains hundreds of
thousands of characters per line is slow, and consumes a lot of CPU.
This is a known limitation of Emacs with no solution at this time.

415 416
*** Emacs uses 100% of CPU time

417 418 419 420
This was a known problem with some old versions of the Semantic package.
The solution was to upgrade Semantic to version 2.0pre4 (distributed
with CEDET 1.0pre4) or later.  Note that Emacs includes Semantic since
23.2, and this issue does not apply to the included version.

*** Self-documentation messages are garbled.
Jason Rumney's avatar
Jason Rumney committed

This means that the file `etc/DOC' doesn't properly correspond
425 426
with the Emacs executable.  Redumping Emacs and then installing the
corresponding pair of files should fix the problem.

428 429
*** Programs running under terminal emulator do not recognize `emacs'
terminal type.

431 432
The cause of this is a shell startup file that sets the TERMCAP
environment variable.  The terminal emulator uses that variable to
provide the information on the special terminal type that Emacs emulates.

435 436 437
Rewrite your shell startup file so that it does not change TERMCAP
in such a case.  You could use the following conditional which sets
it only if it is undefined.

    if ( ! ${?TERMCAP} ) setenv TERMCAP ~/my-termcap-file

441 442
Or you could set TERMCAP only when you set TERM--which should not
happen in a non-login shell.

*** In Shell mode, you get a ^M at the end of every line.

446 447 448 449
This happens to people who use tcsh, because it is trying to be too
smart.  It sees that the Shell uses terminal type `unknown' and turns
on the flag to output ^M at the end of each line.  You can fix the
problem by adding this to your .cshrc file:

    if ($?EMACS) then
        if ("$EMACS" =~ /*) then
453 454 455 456
            unset edit
            stty  -icrnl -onlcr -echo susp ^Z

*** Emacs startup on GNU/Linux systems (and possibly other systems) is slow.

460 461 462
This can happen if the system is misconfigured and Emacs can't get the
full qualified domain name, FQDN.  You should have your FQDN in the
/etc/hosts file, something like this:

464 465	localhost	nuc04

The way to set this up may vary on non-GNU systems.

*** Attempting to visit remote files via ange-ftp fails.

471 472 473 474 475 476
If the error message is "ange-ftp-file-modtime: Specified time is not
representable", then this could happen when `lukemftp' is used as the
ftp client.  This was reported to happen on Debian GNU/Linux, kernel
version 2.4.3, with `lukemftp' 1.5-5, but might happen on other
systems as well.  To avoid this problem, switch to using the standard
ftp client.  On a Debian system, type

  update-alternatives --config ftp

and then choose /usr/bin/netkit-ftp.

*** Dired is very slow.
483 484 485 486 487 488 489 490 491 492 493 494 495 496 497 498

This could happen if invocation of the `df' program takes a long
time.  Possible reasons for this include:

  - ClearCase mounted filesystems (VOBs) that sometimes make `df'
    response time extremely slow (dozens of seconds);

  - slow automounters on some old versions of Unix;

  - slow operation of some versions of `df'.

To work around the problem, you could either (a) set the variable
`directory-free-space-program' to nil, and thus prevent Emacs from
invoking `df'; (b) use `df' from the GNU Fileutils package; or
(c) use CVS, which is Free Software, instead of ClearCase.

*** ps-print commands fail to find prologue files ps-prin*.ps.
500 501 502 503 504 505 506

This can happen if you use an old version of X-Symbol package: it
defines compatibility functions which trick ps-print into thinking it
runs in XEmacs, and look for the prologue files in a wrong directory.

The solution is to upgrade X-Symbol to a later version.

*** On systems with shared libraries you might encounter run-time errors
Gerd Moellmann's avatar
Gerd Moellmann committed
508 509 510 511 512
from the dynamic linker telling you that it is unable to find some
shared libraries, for instance those for Xaw3d or image support.
These errors mean Emacs has been linked with a library whose shared
library is not in the default search path of the dynamic linker.

513 514 515
Similar problems could prevent Emacs from building, since the build
process invokes Emacs several times.

Gerd Moellmann's avatar
Gerd Moellmann committed
516 517 518 519 520 521 522 523
On many systems, it is possible to set LD_LIBRARY_PATH in your
environment to specify additional directories where shared libraries
can be found.

Other systems allow to set LD_RUN_PATH in a similar way, but before
Emacs is linked.  With LD_RUN_PATH set, the linker will include a
specified run-time search path in the executable.

Richard M. Stallman's avatar
Richard M. Stallman committed
On some systems, Emacs can crash due to problems with dynamic
525 526 527 528 529 530 531 532 533 534 535 536 537 538
linking.  Specifically, on SGI Irix 6.5, crashes were reported with
backtraces like this:

  (dbx) where
   0 strcmp(0xf49239d, 0x4031184, 0x40302b4, 0x12, 0xf0000000, 0xf4923aa, 0x0, 0x492ddb2) ["/xlv22/ficus-jan23/work/irix/lib/libc/libc_n32_M3_ns/strings/strcmp.s":35, 0xfb7e480]
   1 general_find_symbol(0xf49239d, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0xf0000000, 0xf4923aa, 0x0, 0x492ddb2)
 ["/comp2/mtibuild/v73/workarea/v7.3/rld/rld.c":2140, 0xfb65a98]
   2 resolve_symbol(0xf49239d, 0x4031184, 0x0, 0xfbdd438, 0x0, 0xf4923aa, 0x0, 0x492ddb2)
 ["/comp2/mtibuild/v73/workarea/v7.3/rld/rld.c":1947, 0xfb657e4]
   3 lazy_text_resolve(0xd18, 0x1a3, 0x40302b4, 0x12, 0xf0000000, 0xf4923aa, 0x0, 0x492ddb2)
 ["/comp2/mtibuild/v73/workarea/v7.3/rld/rld.c":997, 0xfb64d44]
   4 _rld_text_resolve(0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0, 0x0)
 ["/comp2/mtibuild/v73/workarea/v7.3/rld/rld_bridge.s":175, 0xfb6032c]

(`rld' is the dynamic linker.)  We don't know why this
Richard M. Stallman's avatar
Richard M. Stallman committed
happens, but setting the environment variable LD_BIND_NOW to 1 (which
541 542 543
forces the dynamic linker to bind all shared objects early on) seems
to work around the problem.

Gerd Moellmann's avatar
Gerd Moellmann committed
544 545
Please refer to the documentation of your dynamic linker for details.

*** When you run Ispell from Emacs, it reports a "misalignment" error.

548 549 550 551
This can happen if you compiled the Ispell program to use ASCII
characters only and then try to use it from Emacs with non-ASCII
characters, like Latin-1.  The solution is to recompile Ispell with
support for 8-bit characters.

553 554
To see whether your Ispell program supports 8-bit characters, type
this at your shell's prompt:

     ispell -vv

558 559 560
and look in the output for the string "NO8BIT".  If Ispell says
"!NO8BIT (8BIT)", your speller supports 8-bit characters; otherwise it
does not.

562 563 564
To rebuild Ispell with 8-bit character support, edit the local.h file
in the Ispell distribution and make sure it does _not_ define NO8BIT.
Then rebuild the speller.

566 567
Another possible cause for "misalignment" error messages is that the
version of Ispell installed on your machine is old.  Upgrade.

569 570 571 572 573
Yet another possibility is that you are trying to spell-check a word
in a language that doesn't fit the dictionary you choose for use by
Ispell.  (Ispell can only spell-check one language at a time, because
it uses a single dictionary.)  Make sure that the text you are
spelling and the dictionary used by Ispell conform to each other.

575 576 577 578
If your spell-checking program is Aspell, it has been reported that if
you have a personal configuration file (normally ~/.aspell.conf), it
can cause this error.  Remove that file, execute `ispell-kill-ispell'
in Emacs, and then try spell-checking again.

* Runtime problems related to font handling

582 583 584 585 586 587 588 589 590 591 592 593 594 595 596 597 598 599 600 601
** Characters are displayed as empty boxes or with wrong font under X.

*** This can occur when two different versions of FontConfig are used.
For example, XFree86 4.3.0 has one version and Gnome usually comes
with a newer version.  Emacs compiled with Gtk+ will then use the
newer version.  In most cases the problem can be temporarily fixed by
stopping the application that has the error (it can be Emacs or any
other application), removing ~/.fonts.cache-1, and then start the
application again.  If removing ~/.fonts.cache-1 and restarting
doesn't help, the application with problem must be recompiled with the
same version of FontConfig as the rest of the system uses.  For KDE,
it is sufficient to recompile Qt.

*** Some fonts have a missing glyph and no default character.  This is
known to occur for character number 160 (no-break space) in some
fonts, such as Lucida but Emacs sets the display table for the unibyte
and Latin-1 version of this character to display a space.

*** Some of the fonts called for in your fontset may not exist on your
X server.

603 604
Each X11 font covers just a fraction of the characters that Emacs
supports.  To display the whole range of Emacs characters requires
605 606
many different fonts, collected into a fontset.  You can remedy the
problem by installing additional fonts.

The intlfonts distribution includes a full spectrum of fonts that can
609 610 611 612 613
display all the characters Emacs supports.  The etl-unicode collection
of fonts (available from <URL:> and
<URL:>) includes
fonts that can display many Unicode characters; they can also be used
by ps-print and ps-mule to print Unicode characters.

** Under X11, some characters appear improperly aligned in their lines.

You may have bad X11 fonts; try installing the intlfonts distribution
618 619 620 621 622 623 624 625 626 627
or the etl-unicode collection (see above).

** Under X, an unexpected monospace font is used as the default font.

When compiled with XFT, Emacs tries to use a default font named
"monospace".  This is a "virtual font", which the operating system
(Fontconfig) redirects to a suitable font such as DejaVu Sans Mono.
On some systems, there exists a font that is actually named Monospace,
which takes over the virtual font.  This is considered an operating
system bug; see


631 632 633 634 635 636 637 638 639 640 641
If you encounter this problem, set the default font to a specific font
in your .Xresources or initialization file.  For instance, you can put
the following in your .Xresources:

Emacs.font: DejaVu Sans Mono 12

** Certain fonts make each line take one pixel more than it should.

This is because these fonts contain characters a little taller than
the font's nominal height.  Emacs needs to make sure that lines do not

** Font Lock displays portions of the buffer in incorrect faces.
Jason Rumney's avatar
Jason Rumney committed

645 646 647 648 649 650 651 652 653 654
By far the most frequent cause of this is a parenthesis `(' or a brace
`{' in column zero.  Font Lock assumes that such a paren is outside of
any comment or string.  This is of course not true in general, but the
vast majority of well-formatted program source files don't have such
parens, and therefore this assumption is used to allow optimizations
in Font Lock's syntactical analysis.  These optimizations avoid some
pathological cases where jit-lock, the Just-in-Time fontification
introduced with Emacs 21.1, could significantly slow down scrolling
through the buffer, especially scrolling backwards, and also jumping
to the end of a very large buffer.
Jason Rumney's avatar
Jason Rumney committed

Beginning with version 22.1, a parenthesis or a brace in column zero
657 658 659
is highlighted in bold-red face if it is inside a string or a comment,
to indicate that it could interfere with Font Lock (and also with
indentation) and should be moved or escaped with a backslash.
Jason Rumney's avatar
Jason Rumney committed

661 662 663 664 665
If you don't use large buffers, or have a very fast machine which
makes the delays insignificant, you can avoid the incorrect
fontification by setting the variable
`font-lock-beginning-of-syntax-function' to a nil value.  (This must
be done _after_ turning on Font Lock.)

667 668
Another alternative is to avoid a paren in column zero.  For example,
in a Lisp string you could precede the paren with a backslash.

** Emacs pauses for several seconds when changing the default font.

672 673 674 675
This has been reported for fvwm 2.2.5 and the window manager of KDE
2.1.  The reason for the pause is Xt waiting for a ConfigureNotify
event from the window manager, which the window manager doesn't send.
Xt stops waiting after a default timeout of usually 5 seconds.

A workaround for this is to add something like

emacs.waitForWM: false

681 682
to your X resources.  Alternatively, add `(wait-for-wm . nil)' to a
frame's parameter list, like this:

   (modify-frame-parameters nil '((wait-for-wm . nil)))

(this should go into your `.emacs' file).

** Underlines appear at the wrong position.

690 691
This is caused by fonts having a wrong UNDERLINE_POSITION property.
Examples are the font 7x13 on XFree prior to version 4.1, or the jmk
692 693 694
neep font from the Debian xfonts-jmk package prior to version 3.0.17.
To circumvent this problem, set x-use-underline-position-properties
to nil in your `.emacs'.

To see what is the value of UNDERLINE_POSITION defined by the font,
type `xlsfonts -lll FONT' and look at the font's UNDERLINE_POSITION property.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

** When using Exceed, fonts sometimes appear too tall.

701 702 703 704 705
When the display is set to an Exceed X-server and fonts are specified
(either explicitly with the -fn option or implicitly with X resources)
then the fonts may appear "too tall".  The actual character sizes are
correct but there is too much vertical spacing between rows,  which
gives the appearance of "double spacing".

707 708
To prevent this, turn off the Exceed's "automatic font substitution"
feature (in the font part of the configuration window).

710 711 712 713 714 715 716 717 718 719 720 721
** Subscript/superscript text in TeX is hard to read.

If `tex-fontify-script' is non-nil, tex-mode displays
subscript/superscript text in the faces subscript/superscript, which
are smaller than the normal font and lowered/raised.  With some fonts,
nested superscripts (say) can be hard to read.  Switching to a
different font, or changing your antialiasing setting (on an LCD
screen), can both make the problem disappear.  Alternatively, customize
the following variables: tex-font-script-display (how much to
lower/raise); tex-suscript-height-ratio (how much smaller than
normal); tex-suscript-height-minimum (minimum height).

* Internationalization problems

724 725 726 727 728
** M-{ does not work on a Spanish PC keyboard.

Many Spanish keyboards seem to ignore that combination.  Emacs can't
do anything about it.

729 730 731
** International characters aren't displayed under X.

*** Missing X fonts

733 734 735 736 737 738 739 740 741
XFree86 4 contains many fonts in iso10646-1 encoding which have
minimal character repertoires (whereas the encoding part of the font
name is meant to be a reasonable indication of the repertoire
according to the XLFD spec).  Emacs may choose one of these to display
characters from the mule-unicode charsets and then typically won't be
able to find the glyphs to display many characters.  (Check with C-u
C-x = .)  To avoid this, you may need to use a fontset which sets the
font for the mule-unicode sets explicitly.  E.g. to use GNU unifont,
include in the fontset spec:

743 744 745

** The UTF-8/16/7 coding systems don't encode CJK (Far Eastern) characters.

749 750 751 752 753 754 755 756 757 758
Emacs directly supports the Unicode BMP whose code points are in the
ranges 0000-33ff and e000-ffff, and indirectly supports the parts of
CJK characters belonging to these legacy charsets:

    GB2312, Big5, JISX0208, JISX0212, JISX0213-1, JISX0213-2, KSC5601

The latter support is done in Utf-Translate-Cjk mode (turned on by
default).   Which Unicode CJK characters are decoded into which Emacs
charset is decided by the current language environment.  For instance,
in Chinese-GB, most of them are decoded into chinese-gb2312.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

760 761 762 763 764 765 766
If you read UTF-8 data with code points outside these ranges, the
characters appear in the buffer as raw bytes of the original UTF-8
(composed into a single quasi-character) and they will be written back
correctly as UTF-8, assuming you don't break the composed sequences.
If you read such characters from UTF-16 or UTF-7 data, they are
substituted with the Unicode `replacement character', and you lose
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

** Accented ISO-8859-1 characters are displayed as | or _.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

770 771 772 773
Try other font set sizes (S-mouse-1).  If the problem persists with
other sizes as well, your text is corrupted, probably through software
that is not 8-bit clean.  If the problem goes away with another font
size, it's probably because some fonts pretend to be ISO-8859-1 fonts
when they are really ASCII fonts.  In particular the schumacher-clean
fonts have this bug in some versions of X.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

To see what glyphs are included in a font, use `xfd', like this:
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

  xfd -fn -schumacher-clean-medium-r-normal--12-120-75-75-c-60-iso8859-1
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

If this shows only ASCII glyphs, the font is indeed the source of the problem.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

783 784 785
The solution is to remove the corresponding lines from the appropriate
`fonts.alias' file, then run `mkfontdir' in that directory, and then run
`xset fp rehash'.

** The `oc-unicode' package doesn't work with Emacs 21.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

789 790 791 792 793
This package tries to define more private charsets than there are free
slots now.  The current built-in Unicode support is actually more
flexible.  (Use option `utf-translate-cjk-mode' if you need CJK
support.)  Files encoded as emacs-mule using oc-unicode aren't
generally read correctly by Emacs 21.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

* X runtime problems

** X keyboard problems

*** You "lose characters" after typing Compose Character key.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

801 802 803 804
This is because the Compose Character key is defined as the keysym
Multi_key, and Emacs (seeing that) does the proper X11
character-composition processing.  If you don't want your Compose key
to do that, you can redefine it with xmodmap.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

For example, here's one way to turn it into a Meta key:

    xmodmap -e "keysym Multi_key = Meta_L"
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

810 811 812
If all users at your site of a particular keyboard prefer Meta to
Compose, you can make the remapping happen automatically by adding the
xmodmap command to the xdm setup script for that display.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

*** Using X Windows, control-shift-leftbutton makes Emacs hang.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

Use the shell command `xset bc' to make the old X Menu package work.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

*** C-SPC fails to work on Fedora GNU/Linux (or with fcitx input method).
819 820 821 822 823 824 825 826 827 828 829 830 831

Fedora Core 4 steals the C-SPC key by default for the `iiimx' program
which is the input method for some languages.  It blocks Emacs users
from using the C-SPC key for `set-mark-command'.

One solutions is to remove the `<Ctrl>space' from the `Iiimx' file
which can be found in the `/usr/lib/X11/app-defaults' directory.
However, that requires root access.

Another is to specify `Emacs*useXIM: false' in your X resources.

Another is to build Emacs with the `--without-xim' configure option.

832 833 834 835 836 837
The same problem happens on any other system if you are using fcitx
(Chinese input method) which by default use C-SPC for toggling.  If
you want to use fcitx with Emacs, you have two choices.  Toggle fcitx
by another key (e.g. C-\) by modifying ~/.fcitx/config, or be
accustomed to use C-@ for `set-mark-command'.

*** M-SPC seems to be ignored as input.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

840 841
See if your X server is set up to use this as a command
for character composition.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

*** The S-C-t key combination doesn't get passed to Emacs on X.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

845 846 847 848 849
This happens because some X configurations assign the Ctrl-Shift-t
combination the same meaning as the Multi_key.  The offending
definition is in the file `...lib/X11/locale/iso8859-1/Compose'; there
might be other similar combinations which are grabbed by X for similar
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

851 852
We think that this can be countermanded with the `xmodmap' utility, if
you want to be able to bind one of these key sequences within Emacs.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

*** Under X, C-v and/or other keys don't work.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

856 857
These may have been intercepted by your window manager.
See the WM's documentation for how to change this.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

*** Clicking C-mouse-2 in the scroll bar doesn't split the window.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

861 862 863
This currently doesn't work with scroll-bar widgets (and we don't know
a good way of implementing it with widgets).  If Emacs is configured
--without-toolkit-scroll-bars, C-mouse-2 on the scroll bar does work.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

865 866
*** Inability to send an Alt-modified key, when Emacs is communicating
directly with an X server.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

868 869 870 871 872 873
If you have tried to bind an Alt-modified key as a command, and it
does not work to type the command, the first thing you should check is
whether the key is getting through to Emacs.  To do this, type C-h c
followed by the Alt-modified key.  C-h c should say what kind of event
it read.  If it says it read an Alt-modified key, then make sure you
have made the key binding correctly.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

875 876
If C-h c reports an event that doesn't have the Alt modifier, it may
be because your X server has no key for the Alt modifier.  The X
server that comes from MIT does not set up the Alt modifier by default.
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

If your keyboard has keys named Alt, you can enable them as follows:
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

881 882
    xmodmap -e 'add mod2 = Alt_L'
    xmodmap -e 'add mod2 = Alt_R'
Dave Love's avatar
Dave Love committed

884 885 886