I was getting so tired of Emacs crashing on my Macbook Pro that I had decided to sell it in order to raise enough cash to buy parts to update my desktop, whose board and CPU combo are five or six years old. I am running Xubuntu on my desktop, and Emacs has not faltered or crashed in forever on Xubuntu. My Mac is a fancy deal: I7 quad, OWC SSD Extreme, and 16G of RAM. I thought the cash I raised selling the Macbook might be enough to build a decent workstation/server, which I have wanted for a long time. Then a friend on the web suggested I give Aquamacs a try. He thought I'd have less problems, which has proved to be true. I have been using Aquamacs for a couple of weeks now and no crashes to speak of, one sort of, maybe, my fingers got tangled up and I hit a bunch of keys at once. I have been encouraged to move out of the stripped Aquamacs into a more expansive model. Also, just downloaded Aquamacs-3a this morn, which is the latest thing. I have been on it all day. No crashes. Maybe I won't sell the Mac after all.
October 27, 2014
First of all I can assure Emacsen who are having trouble with Emacs but love their Macs like the girl in the first row in grade school, Aquamacs is not that much different than Emacs. Master the one and you've pretty much got the other one mastered. On either Emacs or Aquamacs a beginner who has done the tutorial and mastered the function keys can very soon begin to pound out text. All the rest is gravy; I admit there is a world of gravy. But Emacs and Aquamacs are similar enough that if you can't afford the Mac Pro any more, you can load up Xubuntu on your junker, and set up Emacs, and after awhile it will seem something like the Mac did. You won't get that crazy, erotic feeling like you used to with the Mac, but think of the thousands of dollars you'll be able to keep in your pocket. An old Emacsen, on the other hand, progressing out of their worn out Dell or Thinkpad into a Mac retina, might be more aggravated switching to Aquamacs. But if they are smart,— as I'm not —they might be able to get round the lack of cooperation that seems to be going on between Emacs and Apple OS.
I found the interval between auto saves in Emacs to be quite long, 300 characters, but when I shortened it to 100 the frequency of the crashes seemed to increase so I changed it back. At first I copied over the .emacs and the .emacs.d I had been running so successfully on Xubuntu onto the Mac. But soon I gave up on that and I deleted everything and downloaded a new copy of Emacs and built it from scratch. That didn't seem to make any difference. Since I have switched to Aquamacs I have loaded most of my favorite extensions, yassnippet, sublimity mode, ido, deft and writeroom. Recently, I loaded wordsmith-mode, pandoc-mode and zoom-frm, and I have not had any crashes.
A few times I have had missing letters, and some garbage showing up on the screen. It can be quite worrisome when there is a lot of writing to do and no time to fuss. But M-X redraw-display seems to resolve the issue. It has not happened very often. One time I resized the frame and the problem went away. It has not happened at all lately.
One feature on Aquamacs, besides the beautiful Apple colors and fonts, is sessions. I was attracted to that feature right away. I don't think there is anything similar in GNU Emacs. (Please comment if there is!) One complaint I have always had with Emacs is that you often have to do quite a bit of setting up before you get the frames all organized the way you'd like before starting work. I'm settling in to write well before dawn, still half asleep, so fiddling around is not what I want to do. First thing, when you get your basic files set up, create and name a session file, then after you launch each morning go to File>Load session. A browser will open up. Go to your session file, click on it, and click on "open". It takes a few seconds, but suddenly all your big morning files will be framed appropriately and most of the fiddling done. It is then off to work. I have a novel session and a blog session. I may be working on three or four blogs at a time. Or I might have three or four chapters of my novel Jimmy Freeman plus a notes file all in buffers for me to get at instantly. It is a time and effort saving feature that I'm excited about.
You may think these two frames above could easily be matched by other word processors. Think again. They are both from a file in raw LATEX. Press a few buttons and you'll have a PDF to read. Or a .txt file or a few more buttons and you'll have an HTML file to edit. Colors, both background and foreground can be changed in a few seconds with a left click. Changing colors every so often gives the poor eyes a nice rest. Much more about these beautiful, distraction inhibiting full screen modes in a future blog.
Since everything seems to be going pretty well, deft was working, sublimity and ido and yassnippet, and my .tex files seemed to be compiling without a hitch out of the box (!), —a big surprise —, the issue came up the other morning about whether I should download the latest Aquamacs-3a, which is built on Emacs 24.4. I usually take a pass on updates because I'm too busy writing, especially now when I'm in the middle of a novel, to put up with the glitches. But for some reason, for this one, I couldn't resist. It was advertised to have a browser in it: EWW. For years now I have dreamed of a relatively modern browser that I could keep open in an Emacs buffer. Then I could have Internet references at hand and all Emacs key bindings. Took me awhile to get an emailer in order to respond to emails from my comrades within Emacs, as always for the comfort of having a huge variety of key bindings. I theorize that emails always seem so klutzy and poorly written because the clients and browsers have such poor word processors. Anyway, EWW in Aquamacs proved to be too rudimentary at the present time to be useful. At least in Aquamacs, Apple OS. Also, turned out numerous of the normal useful elpa packages, such as smex and zoom-frm do not load in 3a. So that means Elpa is buggy. No time to fuss, so I will be doing without a few things for awhile. I'm sure that will get fixed in no time. (Later on in the afternoon I got zoom-frm installed with no problem.)
While I'm on the subject of bugs, tabbar mode seems doubtful, but with many other options for file switching in Aquamacs, I shut it off in Options and prefer ido mode. I may have twenty or so files open at any one time anyway. If they were all in tabs that would take up a lot of space in the frame.
As you go along working in the app, very interesting things happen. The echo area just informed me that I did not close one of my heads. Sure enough, a two head had been closed with a three head call. (Does that sound slightly unbelievable? I am not kidding.) Also, try "m-x bs-show" call and see what you think of it for switching files. Bookmarks of course will open up a file where you left the cursor — just key C-x r-m. Speedbar is available. Recentf mode will present a buffer with all of your most recent files. If you like to point and click, check out Window above. All of these methods bring up a file much faster than Finder.
So far so good. I'll be looking at EWW in Xubuntu soon. Wouldn't it be nice to have 24 or so buffers open, a browser in Emacs, and Firefox and Safari open at once ten tabs in each on a 40 inch UHD TV! If I sell my Mac, then one of the new Mac Pros would be only another two thousand dollars! I am slowly breaking in my wife. But maybe a used "Cheese Grater" would do the job. Who has time to fuss with a Hackintosh?