A modular configuration for Emacs

In this post I describe how I decided to organize by Emacs configuration files after having used for more than 10 years a monolithic .emacs file. There are many ways to configure Emacs, but you always need an init file. Several ‘ready-to-use’ system have been proposed, including starter-kit, prelude, and various flavours based on those packaging systems (e.g., Eric Schulte’s Starter Kit for Emacs 24, Kieran Healy’s Starter Kit for the Social Sciences, or Xiao Hanyu’s oh-my-emacs inspired by oh-my-zsh; see also Where I can find the most popular Emacs settings?

Common Lisp on Mavericks

Here are some notes I took when setting up Emacs to run SBCL on a fresh Macbook Pro powered by Homebrew. I was surprised to find no Info page for sbcl, and after looking for what was installed by Homebrew under /usr/local1, I just found the man page: % ls /usr/local/Cellar/sbcl/1.2.1/share/man/man1 sbcl.1 So I decided to download SBCL from its homepage,, and compile it myself as I did on my previous Mac.

OS X Mavericks

Here it comes… I got a new MacBook Pro 13. After my longest streak with the same laptop (about 4 years), I decided to upgrade my work environment. Although the ideas I developed in a previous post on my default setup haven’t changed very much–I am writing this post in Markdown using Emacs, as usual, I must admit I feel the need to upgrade my core system and get a new laptop with more capabilities.

Light Table and interactive live coding

LightTable 0.6.2 has been released recently. It now supports Python and graphics can be embedded directly into the interactive console. LightTable changed a lot since it was first announced on Chris Granger website, especially regarding the core UI. It now features a plugin manager and inline evaluation, including graphical displays from IPython. Since I was recently talking about Racket Scheme and its capabilities to display inline graphics, much like Emacs Geiser does, I believe I should just finish this post that I started more than a month ago.

Scheme and Emacs

For those who like to write Scheme without leaving Emacs, Geiser is probably the way to go. The Racket guide for Emacs also recommends to install Quack, which I happened to try long ago for an introductory course in programming for Bioinformatics where we were using Scheme (I was using Chicken Scheme at that time). I believe DrRacket (formerly PLT Scheme) is really a great software to learn Scheme and do serious stuff with it, including computational science.

Using mu to manage e-mails (followup)

Here are further thoughts on managing IMAP accounts on a Mac without any GUI. I have been reading with pleasure this post: Email done right. In my case, I’m not so much concerned with the need for an unified inbox: I have several accounts but I only use Gmail. I have a .mac address that I will probably drop by little, and I don’t use my server ( address (maybe I sould!

My Setup

I always enjoy reading The Setup from time to time. Here is mine. I try whenever possible to stick to basic text-based workflow and I don’t like complex UIs or applications that eat up all my RAM. I am working on a Macbook Air that I bought in 2010, and I stopped upgrading my OS at Lion. I didn’t even bother updating to the latest 10.7.5. I only have 4 Go of RAM and most of the times that’s just enough.

Using Mu to manage e-mails

Yet another attempt at installing mu to store my Gmail account locally and get better search features than Apple Spotlight. does not use open standard formats Apple has stopped a long time ago to use standard plain text format for storing archives of mails. Instead, now relies on the elmx format and sqlite is used as a backend to manage its database. I’m quite happy with, even if I tried some other software.

Textmate 2

Things have changed since the last time I used TextMate (that was probbaly two or three years ago). TextMate 2 is now available on GitHub. I don’t want to spend much time into the “TextMate is dead, Long live TextMate” debate; it has been discussed elsewhere and it seems that many users turned to Sublime Text. The fact is that TM2 is now hosted on GitHub and anyone can contribute to its development and somehow ensure its sustainability.

Alternative mail reader for Mac OS X

I just gave a try to MailMate to manage my emails on my Airbook. There are some good overviews of alternative applications to Apple Mail here: The Ultimate Mail Client for Mac OS X The Best Email Client for Mac OS X I tried Postbox a month ago but I gave up after one day: although it looks interesting in many respects (attachment via Dropbox, searching facilities, and responsiveness).