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There seem to be the following versions: emacs23, emacs23-nox, e3, emacs23-lucid, and jove, as choices to download. Where can I find out what the differences are?

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The short answer is that you almost certainly want emacs23: it's the full version of Emacs 23 with graphical support.

emacs23-nox is the same, but without any graphical support. If you're installing Emacs onto a server or other environment that lacks an X window system, you should fetch this version instead. (Note that emacs23 works just fine on the terminal, so the only reason to prefer emacs23-nox to emacs23 is if you don't want to drag in the dependencies.)

e3 and jove are not Emacs; they're lightweight editors that have Emacs modes to them.

emacs23-lucid is a very odd name for that package, but it's Emacs with an XEmacs interface. I'm not entirely clear why you'd grab that package, unless it actually is XEmacs with an odd name.

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2014 here. should it be emacs24 now? – Kinjal Dixit Jan 29 '14 at 8:31
The -lucid variant is useful if you want X without a graphical desktop, e.g. over ssh. – Carsten S Mar 4 '14 at 13:56
^ The version without graphical support is the -nox variant. – SabreWolfy Apr 22 '14 at 10:42
There is no emacs24-nox yet. emacs23-nox is still the latest for ubuntu as of Jul 2014. – user1854266 Jul 23 '14 at 22:50
emacs24-nox is available as of this writing (Sept 2014). – Ted M. Young Sep 23 '14 at 23:34

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