Chapter 2. Emacs Basics

Some of you out there are probably dying to get your hands on the keyboard and start typing. We won’t try to stop you; turn to Section 1.4and you can go ahead. But do read the beginning of this chapter later when you’re ready for a break. Emacs is much easier to learn if you understand some of the basic concepts involved, and these are discussed in the following introduction.

Introducing Emacs!

GNU Emacs is one of the most commonly used text editors in the UNIX world today. Many users prefer GNU Emacs to vi (UNIX’s standard editor) or to the editor that’s built into most modern window systems. Why is it so popular? It isn’t the newest tool on the market, and it’s certainly not the prettiest. But it may well be the most useful tool you’ll ever learn. We want to present what you need to know about Emacs in order to do useful work, in a way that lets you use it effectively. This book is a guide for Emacs users; it tries to satisfy the needs of many readers, ranging from administrators and managers who write memos and reports, to advanced programmers who edit source code in several different languages.

Our approach therefore isn’t to tell you absolutely everything that Emacs does. There are many features and commands that this book doesn’t describe. We don’t think that’s a problem; Emacs has a comprehensive online help facility that will help you figure out what these are. We have focused our attention on describing how to use Emacs to get useful work done. After ...

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