Saturday, June 30, 2018

Setting up MELPA for Emacs packages

In my journey to learn emacs, one of the first things that I wanted to do was change the theme so that it was more pleasing to the eye.  Anyone who uses a tool enough knows that if you can personalize it for you, you personalize it. 

So in researching themes ( see the emacs themes site ), I kept seeing references to MELPA, which is an emacs package manager.  Sweet!  Unfortunately, my quest to install the theme I wanted was met with the fact that it is NOT configured to use MELPA by default.  Thus, the reason for this write-up. 

In order to configure emacs to see the MELPA packages, you need to edit your .emacs file in your home directory.  If you have at least opened emacs, this file should exist.  If not, just create it and open it for editing.

To correctly enable MELPA, you will need the following as the first section of the file:

;; load emacs 24's package system. Add MELPA repository.
(when (>= emacs-major-version 24)
  (require 'package)
   ;; '("melpa" . "") ; many packages won't show if using stable
   '("melpa" . "")
 After you save the .emacs file, you will need to restart emacs if it is already running.  If not, start it up.  Once running, you will need to his what in the emacs world is referred to as M-x.  On a mac, that is Option + the 'x' key.  I don't run Windows, so I really couldn't begin to tell you what it is on there. 

That will drop you into the M-x mini buffer.  There, type 'list-packages'.  In the main window, a columned list should appear.  The 4th column is 'archive' and should have packages that say 'melpa' (as well as 'gnu').  If so, you are good to install the theme you found. 

To install a melpa package, drop back into the M-x mini buffer and type 'package-install'.  This will change the prompt to "Install package: " which will wait for a package name.  The nice thing is that tab-complete works in emacs.  So start typing a package name and hit tab, and a list will appear in the are right above the mini buffer. Once you complete installing the packages you need, go ahead and restart emacs. 

I certainly hope this makes your emacs package installation easier.  :)

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