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GNU is Not Unix News

"Feline Herd" Offers Easier Package Management For Emacs 142

First time accepted submitter chris.kohlhepp writes "The Emacs editor just got consolidated package management with "Feline Herd", offering 2000+ packages under one roof. No struggle with convoluted keyboard shortcuts — only easy GUI navigation via toolbar buttons! Every conceivable programming language is handled. Cuts the Emacs learning curve to a minimum for learners."
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"Feline Herd" Offers Easier Package Management For Emacs

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  • Yawn (Score:3, Funny)

    by BringYourOwnBacon ( 2808547 ) on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:09AM (#44411849)
    Wake me when there's a Vim equivalent.
    • Re:Yawn (Score:4, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:13AM (#44411889)

      well. you can always run Vim inside of Emacs

      captcha: satisfy

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by BrokenHalo ( 565198 )
        It comes as no surprise that the first post is a bump to vi(m), and I (for one), don't really care that much. Whatever rocks your boat, say I.

        But the GUIfication of emacs is sad. The beauty of emacs is that as a text editor, it runs happily in console mode as well as in X11.

        I came across an instance not long ago when having installed a server system (i.e. without X11) from binaries, I fired up emacs to edit a config file, and it spat errors due to missing gtk libraries. That really pissed me off.

        • "I fired emacs to edit a config file"

          So your penance came along with your sin. You tried to edit a config file with emacs instead of vim. You diserve what came later

        • If you prefer running emacs in text mode (as I do), just run "emacs -nw".
    • Yes, emacs, in its glorious tolerance of even the worst free ideas, sports a Vim-equivalent mode [].
      This is typically discarded after the vi-recovery phase.
      • Re:Yawn (Score:5, Funny)

        by Coryoth ( 254751 ) on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:24AM (#44412011) Homepage Journal

        Yes, emacs, in its glorious tolerance of even the worst free ideas, sports a Vim-equivalent mode.

        For users new to the world of UNIX editors Emacs supports the simpler Vi emulation via

        (setq global-map (make-sparse-keymap))

        which faithfully emulates a novice user's experience of vi.

      • Okay, I have a really stupid question - what do Emacs aficionados use for the "Meta" key?

        By far, the single biggest reason I prefer Vim to Emacs is that I can do "Esc" with Ctrl-[. So more than 99% of the time, I'm working with my fingers staying within one key below or two keys above home row, with the sole exception of my left pinkie which hits the Ctrl key. Using "Alt" as the Emacs Meta key starts to cramp my hands very quickly, and pulling the ring or middle fingers down or the thumbs over to th
        • I have no problem with the 'alt' key, and find it easier than jumping to the escape key in vim. Furthermore, in vim, I have a problem where I forget what mode I'm in, and I end up mangling a bunch of lines every time I type something :)

          • Well again, the regular Escape key is annoying to use, I have to take my left hand completely off the regular keyboard position to get to it. Ctrl-[ is comparatively easy.

            I could remap Esc (or Alt, for that matter) to the Caps Lock, but it would drive me crazy every time I used that key on a machine where I had forgotten to make the change.

            I mangle lines occasionally too, but not often enough to be a problem.
        • by xaxa ( 988988 )

          By far, the single biggest reason I prefer Vim to Emacs is that I can do "Esc" with Ctrl-[.

          The same combination works for me in Emacs. Meta is escape, alt, or Ctrl-[.

          • Meta is also Ctrl-[? Damn. Thanks for the information.
            • It dates back to the PDP-10 days and the ASR-33. The "ALT MODE" key was located about where tab is now, so they were the same in ITS, the operating system under which the first Emacs versions were developed.
          • Ctrl-[ is ESC independent of editor. Ctrl-(whatever) is generally (whatever) - 0x40 (in ASCII coding). And [ is 0x5b and (0x5b - 0x40) is 0x1b which is ESC.
        • by swilly ( 24960 )

          Okay, I have a really stupid question - what do Emacs aficionados use for the "Meta" key?

          Emacs will usually use either the Super key (usually called the Windows key) or the Alt key with the Esc key as a fallback (Esc doesn't use cording). I prefer the Super key but in the last few years distributions have been reserving that key for the window manager, so they intercept the key before it gets to Emacs. The real problem with Alt is with the terminal, where Alt+F opens the file menu instead of moving forward one word, which forces me to turn off the menu bar to use Emacs mode in bash. It isn't

          • I just find Ctrl-[ much easier than moving my left hand up to hit the Escape key. I don't want to remap Esc to Caps Lock or anything similar because it's inevitable I'll log on to some server or su to some account that doesn't have the remap, and then I'll drive myself bonkers toggling Caps Lock over and over.

            Thanks for the response, maybe I should just give up and start working on making frequent use of the Alt key feel natural.
        • What!!?? You don't have seven fingers on each hand!? No wonder you have troubles: you chose the wrong editor given your disability!

        • by jrumney ( 197329 )

          By far, the single biggest reason I prefer Vim to Emacs is that I can do "Esc" with Ctrl-[.

          You can do Esc with C-[ in Emacs too. And Esc is equivalent to Meta (for keyboards without a modifier key that can be assigned to meta).

          • Thanks, but someone pointed that out above. Somehow I thought it was only a Vim feature - I was reading Vim tips somewhere and I saw it suggested.
      • eVIL mode is better. Any vivivi users should check that out instead.

    • Emacs A text editor with Mainframe methodology. We have a big honking computer, lets make sure we stuff as many features in it as possible, so we don't need to install other editors.

      VI A text editor with a Mini-Computer methodology. The computer isn't as powerful as a mainframe so it is smaller and lighter, without every feature under the sun. However we expect data entry type of people using it so it is designed for fast keyboard interaction.

      Granted with Modern PC's we can run either without much of a ha

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The irony is that vim has many, many, many more syntax and indent files, and more packages ship them than anywhere else. So for actual productive editing vim wins out significantly. While emacs has very little support in comparison, even considering external files. Granted, emacs is an interpreter for a text and buffer-oriented lisp dialect. Not an editor in itself. I think that's the main issue with these sorts of arguments and the ever-hilarious-pee-myself-from-laughing-not-old-at-all "emacs is a great O

    • by Cito ( 1725214 )

      They will never beat or compete with the ease of use that is Pico

      Pico editor > all with simplicity

    • Vim has no additional packages.
      It is supposed to be complete.
      The operative word here being 'supposed'.
      Dream on.

    • It's existed for longer than this one in emacs and is called Vundle. []

  • Oh great, I just heard about this potentially useful new tool, and it's already been forked into competing factions!

    As of Emacs 24, package management is integrated, but yet again there are divergent package manager paradigms (EL-Get & ELPA) and a number of repositories exist for these. They are not pre-configured.

  • by stenvar ( 2789879 ) on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:13AM (#44411877)

    This would have been great 20 years ago. But these days, I can just apt-get install Emacs packages. Of course, on some other platforms, this may still be useful, but on Linux systems with built-in package management, these extra application specific package management systems can cause version conflicts and are best avoided.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      This may not sound like a big deal, but sometimes it is nice to not have to do apt-get install since here on my work machines we dont have root permissions and have to ask the admins to install things for us. I like the fact that for emacs packages all you have to do is drop the elisp file in a particular folder, run it through compiler and point it in my .emacs.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        On the other hand, this is a huge pain in the neck for a user who wants centralized package management. My package manager is very capable, I want to use it for every piece of software on the system. Rubygems? Feline Herd? Gowhatever? Why do I need new cute names for doing the same damn thing my package manager already does - but with worse dependency checking, less update capabilities, and other irritations?

        At least CPAN seems to be sane, as it seems to be perfectly content to exist as a passive reposi

        • by Tarlus ( 1000874 )

          It has its pros and its cons. On one hand, I really like the idea of only having one package manager handle everything. No need to keep track of different utilities and all their different syntaxes.

          On the other hand, a distro-specific package repository is never as fresh as an application-specific repository. Debian is a prime example of this. It has many but not all perl modules, and not all of them are up to date. CPAN, by comparison, tends to have the latest, and of a fuller variety. But CPAN doesn't nec

        • by znrt ( 2424692 )

          My package manager is very capable, I want to use it for every piece of software on the system. Rubygems? Feline Herd? Gowhatever? Why do I need new cute names for doing the same damn thing my package manager already does ...?

          exactly, why? don't see the problem. if it's available in your package manager just go for it. if it is not ... there is at least *some* package management available. these aren't simple apps. rubygems, emacs, eclipse, nodejs ... are all extensible building tools where dependency management is a fundamental requirement. since they are also mostly platform-agnostic having its own dependency management system just makes sense, and it does in no way preclude your favorite package manager from maintaining it.

    • by jrumney ( 197329 )

      This seems to be the equivalent of a source distribution of a program whose sole purpose, once you've compiled it yourself and installed it, is to add universe and multiverse to your /etc/apt/sources.list file. As a long term and loyal Emacs user, even I'm failing to see the justification for a front page slashdot story.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Depends on what you're doing. I do some bioinformatics with Bioconductor. Even on Debian Sid, the r-bioc- packages get out of date fast. If I install Bioconductor manually, all I have to do is update from within R. If I install Bioconductor with apt, I have to wait until someone else packages it. This very frequently makes the difference between getting the work done and not.

    • The problem with these is that they get out of date; more over, if you use emacs a lot, then having to use different package management systems on different operating systems is also a pain. Likewise, with tools like R.

      So, it all depends on your application and your requirements. I a combination of ELPA style packages, and checkout git repositories for my Emacs package management. And, yes, version conflicts happen. But, the alternative of living with very old packages isn't always great either.

      • I use Emacs and R a lot, but I don't think this makes my life easier in its current form. The Ubuntu and Debian packages aren't that much out of date. And mixing Ubuntu and application packages frequently causes problems.

        Mind you, I'm not complaining that people are investing time in this. But OS and application packagers need to sit down together and figure out how to make these application-specific package management systems and OS package management systems work together better.

    • by ldierk ( 1270930 )
      On a lot of servers at customer sites emacs is not installed. vi on the other hand is available on every *nix server I have ever encountered. So at least for config editing I'm often forced to use vi.
    • by Baki ( 72515 )

      Usually only a fraction of available packages for a certain system (like CPAN for perl, or eclipse 'bundles') is available directly as OS-level package (such as deb or rpm). For the rest you're on your own, or you use CPAN etc. and now maybe feline-herd for emacs (though I've fared well without it for 25 years).

      • True. But that doesn't change the fact that the current situation is confusing and causes serious problems. Somehow something needs to be done: either application package management systems need to learn how to deal with OS package management systems (by installing OS version-appropriate add-on packages), or OS package management systems need to figure out how to defer to application package management systems.

        As for Feline Herd, even as a heavy Emacs user, I find it extremely rare that there is a package t

  • Ahh, EMACS (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chris Mattern ( 191822 ) on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:13AM (#44411885)

    Truly, it would be the world's most perfect operating system, if only it had a decent text editor.

  • An Honest Question: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lisias ( 447563 )

    What's the EMACS' relevance nowadays?

    I'm not arguing about functionality, VI vs EMACS, or whatever. I'm just asking about the role it's playing on software development in this modern days.

    By the way: I'm a Eclipse heavy user, and I use VIM now and them to quick and dirty linux configuration files editing. I flirted with LUCID EMACS some years ago, when I was looking for a good SGML editor - and at that time, EMACS appeared to be the best one available.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Emacs with packages like ProofGeneral, agda-mode, tuareg-mode, haskell-mode, SLIME and so on is the most convenient (or sometimes the only) frontend to some of the finest programming languages and theorem provers. On top of that there's org-mode for everything else from managing notes, writing big documenets, doing spreadsheet stuff and the like. I often call Emacs the Eclipse for the rest of us. It's not so much a mere editor but a platform to build interfaces to other tools on.

      Not that people who only car

      • Emacs with packages like ProofGeneral, agda-mode, tuareg-mode, haskell-mode, SLIME and so on is the most convenient (or sometimes the only) frontend to some of the finest programming languages and theorem provers.

        Agreed. One of the reasons I've stuck with Emacs is because it seems to have a mode for every language ever created, and Emacs runs on almost every platform ever created. It's closest competition in that respect seems to be Eclipse. I may well switch because a number of the embedded development environments I use are moving towards being Eclipse based, and I hate switching between editors. Once I get used to it the commands in an editor become almost instinctive, so I can concentrate on the code rather than

    • by Tarlus ( 1000874 )

      Different users have their own reasons, but I like to be able to remotely connect via SSH to edit files directly. No need for FTP, VNC, X11 forwarding, etc.

      For web development on a remote server, this has proven to be very handy for me.

    • I'll give you an honest answer, although many people won't like it. It's better than Eclipse once you've mastered the learning curve. It's fast, responsive, totally programmable and cusomizable, and supports more programming languages and extensions than any other editor.

      I told you that you wouldn't like the answer...

    • by swilly ( 24960 )

      What's the EMACS' relevance nowadays?

      Sometimes a task is too hard and repetitive in a traditional editor, but too trivial to require a script. For such tasks, an editor with good macro support is a must, and nothing comes close to Emacs or vim for macro support.

      I still prefer writing code in Emacs, though some tasks are much better done in an IDE. I tend to use both, and I have Emacs and the IDE detect when a file has changed and revert to the filesystem version. This way I can switch between them depending on what I'm trying to do.

    • What is the relevance of Unix today? Seriously, Unix is around because it is still useful and still does stuff better than the alternatives. Emacs which is only trivially older than Unix is around because it is still useful and still does stuff better than the alternatives. This is not a set of macros running inside of TECO anymore, it has changed since then.

      Lucid Emacs was ok, but things have greatly evolved since then as well. The only real hiccup in the Emacs world I find is on Windows. Native versi

      • by Lisias ( 447563 )

        The only real thing it has that separates it from the typical IDE is that it doesn't have windows glued together in MDI style

        What counts points to me. I simply HATE MDI. I would choosea "GIMP" style IDE anyday, if I could find one. It would be marvelous be able to use a multi-windowed Eclipse on my two headed system, the same way it's nice to do it with GIMP.

        • Actually, I'd rather have an option to choose what's better. I like GIMP, but it's style can drive me nuts when I can't find the toolbar because it's hidden behind my browser (mostly because I use it on windows where I don't have multiple desktops). It's style is good when it's the only application running, which never actually happens. Similarly, Emacs sometimes annoys me with it's debugger windows and I would like to attach it when I use it, but at other times detach it. There are some IDEs I've seen

          • by Lisias ( 447563 )

            (mostly because I use it on windows where I don't have multiple desktops)

            There's a little tool from SysInternals called Desktops [] that may be of use to you.

            It's not Mission Control (very, very far from it), but it can help if you don't need the same program in more than one "Desktop".

            • I have used similar programs before. The ones I used did seem a bit buggy at times with windows vanishing and such. So I've never come up with a good replacement. Which is ok becuase I mostly only use Windows for games, taxes, and the occasional light development.

    • Well, the editor is really good. It's fast and light. It's works with pretty much every language every invented and several that haven't yet. It integrates fantastically with all the different version control systems out there. You can plug it into any command line tool that you want. It's got find and grep support. You can connect to remote machines via ssh. You can use it entirely without a mouse. It has some incredible buffer and file switching facilities that mean you can open the right file instantly.

    • by The Cat ( 19816 ) *

      Emacs is the most powerful software application ever written. It has a steep learning curve but once you know it, you are a Jedi who has constructed their own lightsaber.

      The longer you use it, the more powerful it gets.

    • I tried Eclipse, but the editor is pathetic, and there just wasn't enough other "goodness" to make up for it; same with Visual Studio. Further, Emacs does NOT leave the junk whitespace that bloats version control system repositories and breaks "make" syntax.

      I do use vi(m) frquently when editing config files and shell scripts in active systems, because it works pretty well and doesn't leave the history (tilde) files around.

      There is simply no other editor that I have found that combines huge cross-platform a

      • by Lisias ( 447563 )

        I tried Eclipse, but the editor is pathetic, and there just wasn't enough other "goodness" to make up for it; same with Visual Studio. Further, Emacs does NOT leave the junk whitespace that bloats version control system repositories and breaks "make" syntax.

        Not sure if would be sufficient to you, but I solved this shitty whitespacing problem using a plugin called AnyEdit Tools.

        I totally agree with you that it's a lame solution to a problem that should not exist at first place (any other text editor I use, like Notepad++ and TextWrangler, chops trailing white spaces for me automatically), but if there's something else on Eclipse that would help you somehow, at least this specific problem can be solved.

    • by Lisias ( 447563 )

      Thanks a lot for the feedback. I found your considerations very informative.

      When doing Java EE development, I don't think it will worth even try to replace Eclipse to do the job.

      However, I also develop code using Python, ANSI C and C++, and on also on embedded and retro systems (mainly using CC65) as hobby, and I found Eclipse just too much clousy for these tasks, It simply doesn't worths the pain (I found using Notepad++ and a CygWin shell for ASM development easier and faster than to even try to install

  • by magic maverick ( 2615475 ) on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:29AM (#44412071) Homepage Journal

    VIM & VI also suck. The standard editor is, ed. Obviously. Ed. "Ed is generous enough to flag errors, yet prudent enough not to overwhelm the novice with verbosity."

    • by gmuslera ( 3436 )
      Real programmers use emacs [], at least when are in a hurry. Wonder if "felineherd install butterfly" works or is just builtin.
  • Seriously: No Readme, no installation instructions?

    I've already installed another package manager, so how do I add this one? Is there any website other than the GIT repository?

  • "Feline Herd?" (Score:4, Informative)

    by Tarlus ( 1000874 ) on Monday July 29, 2013 @10:55AM (#44412365)

    I believe the proper term is "clowder."

  • maintaining a large package repository is like herding a bag of kittens.

  • Ya right (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Murdoch5 ( 1563847 ) on Monday July 29, 2013 @11:19AM (#44412629)
    I'm assuming to launch the GUI you need to do "CTRL + A + SHIFT + INS + X + F1 + ! + ALT + T", I don't believe Emacs has a simple learning curve in anyway shape or form, I've tried to learn / use Emacs many times over the last few years and it's never been a good go, this why I use Vim.
  • Vi is great if you are editing a line based language.
    Eclipse is great if you are editing Java.
    For everything else, Emacs.

    If you are doing iterative programming, then keep running your JUnit Tests.
    So, keep running mvn, make and ant from the Command Line.

    If you are doing Functional Programming, then writing code Interactively is the "Cats Ass".
    I prefer to write a function and execute it immediately!
    No running JUnit Tests iteratively, which means running all the tests.

    And yes, some of this is availa
  • Professional tools require professional users. If Emacs is now dumbed down so any cretin can use it, it will likely not be usable for people that are not cretins in the near future. Guess that means I have to either stick with an old version, or look for a replacement that is still a professional tool...

  • Hate them both. My ssh editor of choice is nano, mainly because it just stays out of my way, not switching to insert mode in the middle of typing. No archaic sequences of keys to bother with, either.
    • by lennier ( 44736 )

      Yep, same here. For editing config files, nano just works and works well.

      What constantly blocks me from learning either Emacs or vi is that neither of them seem to coexist well with the industry-standard CUA keybindings that we use everywhere from Windows to Mac to Linux. And CUA has been out since, what, the mid 1980s?

      Yes, it's nice to be able to program your editor in Lisp. It's not nice however to have an editor that thinks it's 1970 and that it owns your entire keyboard and screen, and doesn't know what

      • by jrumney ( 197329 )

        The original CUA keys for Cut/Copy/Paste are Ctrl-Delete, Ctrl-Insert and Shift-Insert. Emacs has supported those out of the box for about a decade. cua-mode only conflicts with important Emacs keys if you are already in the habit of using those Emacs keys in a particular not-very-Emacsy way.

  • Previously the lack of a package manager was the only thing holding it up. All it needs is a good editor now.

  • Emacs article on Slashdot?? Cue the "all it needs is a good editor"

    In an effort to understand what sets this project apart from the other
    options to the point of being worthy of Slashdot (although "worthy of
    Slashdot" has taken on a new meaning in recent years) I checked out the
    code and had a look around...

    * A grand total of 3 commits (including 2 one-liners)

    - First commit was less than 2 weeks ago. This is literally some
    dude's weekend

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.