So far my favourite thing about emacs is that the “GNU and Freedom” help entry is followed immediately by the all caps notice disclaiming any warranty or responsibility for the software at all.

The “GNU and freedom” link doesn’t work. The disclaimer link sure does though.

I am presently not understanding the commitment to the idea that a ‘meta’ key is something that has existed in the wild since 1980.

The starting screen of emacs offers me a dedicated pair of keystrokes that will permit me to order paper copies of the emacs manual. C-h RET returns “Info file emacs does not exist”.

Again, I am going to try to push through this, but the first impressions I’m getting here is that emacs is abandonware. Tier-1 menus that don’t work. Documentation that’s totally untested, inconsistent and full of dead links and weirdly dated terminology (“visit new file”?) This software has not cared at all about new users’ first impressions in a really, really long time, if ever.


When I catch Emacs behaving like a conventional app (e.g. entering text replaces the selected text), I often treat it like a roach in the kitchen and edit my .emacs/init.el to squash that shit dead.

I.e., Emacs is its own wierd thing and it invented this stuff before it became common.

I view this with the kind of affection one has for an eccentric that one has learned to deal with (e.g. a sysadmin 🥁) but acknowledge it's not necessarily healthy.


Emacs falls into the category of tools that require some up-front time investment to learn before it becomes useful.

(I have some half-formed thoughts on how the field of UX tends to conflate "easy to use" with "easy to learn to use" or "easy to use without upfront effort" and that a lot of the most powerful software tools available are considered hard only because you need to learn to use it up front, but that's tangential.)

@suetanvil I have some sympathy for that position in general, but this is Stockholm Syndrome. There’s a difference between “this is challenging to learn because it is a big, complicated tool” and “this is challenging to learn because the documentation is missing, outdated or wrong”.


Less Stockholm and more sunk cost fallacy. I've made the investment and am reaping the benefit; it's possible that better design would have reduced that cost but it's too late for me now.

Also, apologies if I come across as an Emacs partisan. I have lots of complaints about it but it also works pretty well for me.

(FWIW, I've had no problem getting docs, so I'm wondering if it's a packaging issue on your end. Of course, I also just Google it most of the time so it may just be that.)


@suetanvil @scruss has pointed out that I’m hitting an ideological schism between the FSF and Debian that dates back to 2006.

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