After Ubuntu installation(13.10), I found two versions of Emacs 24 in my software center:

  1. GNU Emacs 24(emacs24)

  2. GNU Emacs 24(emacs24-lucid)

I don't understand what the difference between them is and which version is better to install. I am going to use emacs with scheme, clisp and other functional languages. What version preferred for me?

  • Does this answer your question? Emacs, which to use? Feb 18, 2020 at 9:45
  • @DanielPerez I think this question has better answers than its duplicate, so the duplicate close vote should be applied in the opposite direction by closing the other linked question as a duplicate of this question.
    – karel
    Feb 19, 2020 at 7:02

2 Answers 2

  • emacs without suffix is the GTK+ version of Emacs
  • emacs-nox with the -nox suffix is the emacs version without the X server support.
  • emacs-lucid with the -lucid suffix includes the Emacs with a Lucid user interface.

Now the question is "What is the Lucid interface?" Certainly the package description isn't helpful in this case. Fortunately I found a bug report that tries to fix that:

But what is a Lucid user interface? Presumably it means "the user interface offered by emacs23-lucid", which is still unhelpful.

The changelog.Debian.gz tells me it is "an emacsVER-lucid package for those who still want the non-GTK+ version" --- that is, the UI

(1) looks like old emacs
(2) does not use GTK+

--- which seem like useful data for a person deciding whether to install it.

The reader is also curious about the relationship, if any, to Lucid, Inc.

Further reading:

Lucid, Inc's "Lucid Emacs" was the fork that became XEmacs. So it would seem that emacs23-lucid is the version of GNU Emacs designed to look like nineties versions of XEmacs? See


Installing them and comparing (on Squeeze) I see that emacs23's splash screen says "This is GNU EMacs 23.2.1 (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu, GTK+ Version 2.20.1)" while emacs23-lucid's has "(x86_64-pc-linux-gnu, X toolkit, Xaw3d scroll bars)". It's older and greyer-looking than the GTK+ version, but nowhere near as grey as xemacs21...

And then what we hopefully will see as the next description (which seems clearer):

Maybe the description could be something like:

Description: The GNU Emacs editor (non-GTK+ GUI) GNU Emacs is the extensible self-documenting text editor. This package contains a version of Emacs with a graphical user interface based on the old XEmacs-style Lucid widget set.

You can know more about this "Lucid" here.

  • 1
    Thank you. I think I'll install emacs without any suffixes and postfixes )) Dec 4, 2013 at 22:15
  • 1
    The package description could certainly explain this better. Feb 19, 2014 at 13:25
  • 4
    The back-story on Lucid Emacs: jwz.org/doc/lemacs.html
    – Bryan
    Sep 5, 2014 at 8:18
  • what about the numbers? emacs21, emacs22,.....emacs25-suffix .Is 21 an older version than 25? Feb 18, 2020 at 9:40
  • In XUbuntu 20.04, emacs seems to have been renamed to emacs-gtk. I upgraded from 18.04, so maybe the rename happened somewhere inbetween. Jul 28, 2020 at 9:15

If you use GTK Emacs, you're subject to this bug: https://bugzilla.gnome.org/show_bug.cgi?id=85715. Basically, if your X server crashes, so does your Emacs, even if it was started as a daemon. It will almost surely never get fixed. This is why I use the Lucid GUI.

  • why do not use emacs-nox? Dec 6, 2018 at 12:08
  • 2
    @user1742529 because the GUI is way better than terminal IMO. The main thing is aliased key presses. X11 recognizes more key presses than a terminal, e.g. C-i and TAB are indistinguishable in most terminals. Also, the GUI can display more colors and fonts. And to be clear, you can use the GUI with Lucid instead of GTK, so you aren't subject to this bug.
    – jpkotta
    Dec 7, 2018 at 17:26

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