I'm using GNU Emacs (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu, GTK+ Version 2.18.0) and start my Emacs session inside GNU screen.

Since I upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 and the version of emacs-snapshot there I encounter some problems. Sometimes Emacs hogs all RAM plus the same amount of swap space (2+2GB) and also eats all CPU time. When I send the process a SIGTERM the process stops eating CPU time, but the huge allocated amount of memory stays. Emacs itself doesn't take any key sequences. So usually I send the process a SIGKILL and it dies.

Now I want to find out where the bug (if there is one) is located and want to do some debugging. I can see no special reason for this behavior. Sometimes it starts after Emacs is freshly started, sometimes I can work a whole day without problems, sometimes it happens in between. So I'm looking for a kind of debugging or monitoring the process.

I tried strace, but this generates too much output. Strace output of an editing session could easily fill my whole hard drive. Running Emacs inside gdb would also not work, because if I remember correctly Ubuntu builds the software without debugging symbols. So do you have any advice on how I can find the (possible) bug? What would you suggest?

  • GNU Emacs 23.2 was released in May; if you are not satisfied with Ubuntu's default 23.1, good chances are that the bug has already been fixed upstream. Aug 9, 2010 at 8:53
  • It seems that there are no Ubuntu packages for 23.2, so I'll have to check out CVS.
    – qbi
    Aug 9, 2010 at 21:56
  • I strongly suspect that emacs-snapshot is lagging behind now and just plain emacs package will bring you more recent version. At least it did that to me a while back ago.
    – vava
    Sep 12, 2010 at 9:44
  • emacs-snapshot has version and emacs 23.1.1.
    – qbi
    Sep 12, 2010 at 19:14

3 Answers 3


Perhaps the package emacs-snapshot-dbg might be of interest?

"This package contains the debugging symbols useful for debugging Emacs."


I found the answer to this by accident. The problem was not emacs, but a malfunctioning GNOME keyring. When I start Emacs without the keyring daemon all is fine. So disabling it resolved my issue here.


At the moment I'm trying to save all content of Messages-buffer to a file and hope to find something useful:

(with-current-buffer "*Messages*" (auto-save-mode t))

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.