An Emacs configuration is vital to an effective efficient workflow thus it would advantageous to have ubiquitous access to the Emacs, I have laboriously, setup. I would prefer mobile storage solution because of internet restrictions and problematic connections, and the difficultly and hassle associated with transport a computer. I have try consulting searching for the solution - even venturing beyond the first page of results - and have not found something that works well.

Relocating the initialization file for Emacs, of which there are several examples, however by default Emacs still has problems and requires a native init to redirect it and tends to want to find package files on the drive. Portable apps has Emacs which installed and seems quite promising, because it's specifically designed for this purpose, though has difficulty installing packages as in using the standard package.el seems missing and require package in my _emacs throws errors.

Finally if its necessary or preferable to store Emacs configurations online then is it possible and how would one pursue using google drive, as the storage solution, rather then dropbox which I have seen as an option.

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    Does all this mean that you want to put an entire installation of Emacs on a usb drive, or in just one specific folder on your hard drive, or you want to run it locally from an installation in cyberspace? What OS are you using? Should we guess as to what error messages you encountered? After reading 3 paragraphs in the question, I'm still unclear -- but it sounds like an interesting story with lots of interesting background not necessarily pertinent to the question :)
    – lawlist
    Jun 17, 2015 at 23:01
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    What packages do you need? What are the error messages you are getting? What does your "laborious setup" entail? What devices are you installing/running from? Did you compile the emacs binary for your needs or did you download pre-built?
    – Emacs User
    Jun 17, 2015 at 23:55
  • I think this means: can I store Emacs on my phone and run it from there on any computer? If you're willing to wait for Ubuntu convergence, you might find a solution, but a relatively OS-specific one. Jun 18, 2015 at 16:42
  • To clarify: are you looking for (1) Portable .emacs.d/init.el or (2) a portable Emacs.exe, Emacs.app, bin/emacs (as applicable to the OS(es)). If 1: If you have access to GoogleDrive/Dropbox, do you also have access to tools such as git? If 2, which OS(es) would you need support for. Aug 17, 2015 at 19:44

3 Answers 3


I wrote EmacsPortable.App, and I must say that having a portable that works under every variant of Linux is quite daunting. The current script actually compiles the linux executables under each system. I would say keep the configuration mobile and hope that the Linux variant you use is compatible.

You would have to compile everything statically, including libstdc and glibc. Some aren't compatible with certain architectures, and have different options enabled on many distros so the static executables are difficult to build portably. I'm not saying its impossible, it just something I haven't figured out how to do.

See this blog post for more information.

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    This is more a comment than an answer to the question. Perhaps you might want to add some explanation or a link?
    – Drew
    Aug 17, 2015 at 22:04

Have a look at StackOverflow → How can I have a portable Emacs? There is also https://github.com/mlf176f2/EmacsPortable.App, last updated a year ago.

EmacsPortable.App attempts to make a portable version of Emacs that runs off a USB drive under either Windows, Linux, or Mac OSX.

You can get some idea about how this sort of solution works, here.

Apart from that, you could review the options at StackOverflow → Emacs cloud storage options?. So far, the solutions for storing your config files mentioned there include SVN, Git, Dropbox, WebDrive, and JungleDisk. None of those are Emacs-specific. They also mention Tramp, but that's not really relevant to your issue (since it assumes you have a working Emacs already).

To this list I would also add: X11 forwarding, see StackOverflow → Running emacs in graphics mode on remote server -- or the old-school method of simply ssh'ing into the server and running Emacs in a terminal.


Portability entails many things, speed, size, ease of installation, compatibility, and such come to mind first. Tweaking standard emacs into portability is one approach. Another is to use an alternate like GNU Zile.

GNU Zile is a text editor development kit, so that you can (relatively) quickly develop your own ideal text editor without reinventing the wheel for many of the common algorithms and data-structures needed to do so.

...implements a subset of Emacs with identical function and variable names, continuing the spirit of the earlier Zile editor implemented in C.

Zile is a single file of about 250 kilobytes and running in a terminal takes no more than 684 kilobytes of memory.

Zile's speed is of course unmatched by any other editor.

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