Installing Emacs on BSD

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Emacs is available on the BSD variants either through precompiled binary packages or user-compiled ports. Installation instructions vary according to exact OS.


To install the most recent prebuilt binary package of the (at the time) most recent stable version:

# pkg_add -r emacs

To install emacs without X11 dependencies:

# pkg_add -r emacs-nox11
#  pkg install editors/emacs-nox11

Or use the ports to build from source:

# cd /usr/ports/editors/emacs && make install

Developers may find "Using Emacs as a Development Environment," from the official FreeBSD project documentation, a good starting point. Some of the config tweaks are a bit dated and might need updating. But overall it's a reference


Set PKG_PATH to an appropriate mirror.

# pkg_add -i emacs

pkg_add will prompt you for which version you want—currently, versions 21, 22, and 23 are available.

You can also install from the ports tree; however, "The [OpenBSD] ports tree is meant for advanced users. Everyone is encouraged to use the pre-compiled binary packages."(OpenBSD FAQ, section 15.3)

No premade port or package for Emacs 24 seems to be publicly available currently.

NetBSD, DragonFlyBSD, other pkgsrc systems[edit]

On systems using pkgsrc, something like

# cd /usr/pkgsrc/editors/emacs && make install

should work.