I use DropBox to share my .emacs and .emacs.d with the various machines I use. I setup helm using emacs on my mac but now I'm having issues when opening emacs on my Linux box:

Warning (emacs): Unable to activate package `helm'.
Required package `emacs-24' is unavailable
Warning (emacs): Unable to activate package `helm'.
Required package `emacs-24' is unavailable
Warning (initialization): An error occurred while loading `/home/gibson/.emacs':

File error: Cannot open load file, helm

To ensure normal operation, you should investigate and remove the 
cause of the error in your initialization file.  Start Emacs 
with the `--debug-init' option to view a complete error backtrace.
Warning (emacs): Unable to activate package `helm'.
Required package `emacs-24' is unavailable

I also get "Package 'emacs-24' is unavailable" when I try to M-x package-install helm

  • 1
    Maybe try this stackoverflow.com/questions/16177807/…
    – nanny
    Apr 14, 2015 at 23:34
  • That did it. Thanks. I upvoted your comment, but I don't know how to mark a question as answered.
    – Mike
    Apr 15, 2015 at 1:27
  • Mike: As we can't close questions as duplicates if the duplicate is on a different site, nanny (or yourself) could add an Answer with the same information, and you can then mark that answer as Accepted.
    – phils
    Apr 15, 2015 at 1:53
  • @phils Sure, that sounds good.
    – nanny
    Apr 15, 2015 at 12:45

1 Answer 1


The reason for this can be a lingering old version of package.el in your load path. package.el was officially included in GNU Emacs 24, and the downloadable file for earlier Emacs versions doesn't support dependencies on built-in packages (emacs-24.1 is considered a built-in package here).

Type M-x locate-library RET package to find where Emacs is getting its package.el from. The path it shows should end with lisp/emacs-lisp/package.elc. If it doesn't, try getting rid of the indicated file (or changing the load path so Emacs doesn't find it).

From: https://stackoverflow.com/q/16177807/1279369

  • I have the questioner's problem, and just to whoever's interested, this answer didn't work for me. My package matches the given string. I don't say this as a complaint but just an FYI that there must be multiple causes of this warning. Feb 12, 2020 at 4:28

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