I want to install org-mode from Github repository and override that from ELPA.

My emacs configuration runs from an org-file, these are the lines relevant to package management and org-mode load path:

#+BEGIN_SRC emacs-lisp
    (require 'package)
    (setq load-path (cons "~/.emacs.d/org-mode/lisp/" load-path))
    (setq load-path (cons "~/.emacs.d/org-mode/contrib/lisp/" load-path))

I installed org-mode version 9.0.4 from Github repo with these lines of bash code:

cd ~/.emacs.d/
git clone git://orgmode.org/org-mode.git
make autoloads

I deleted the org mode from ELPA folder inside .emacs.d. When I fire up emacs I get this error message:

Warning (initialization): An error occurred while loading `~/.emacs.d/init.el':

Symbol's function definition is void: org-define-error

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.

What am I missing here? Your help would be much appreciated. Any suggestions to improve my Emacs setup file are also welcome.

Update whey I hit M-x org-version it takes the version info from another location which is /usr/share/emacs/24.5/lisp/org/. What I want to achieve that emacs run org-mode from the new cloned location.


  • Emacs-version: GNU Emacs 24.5.1 (x86_64-pc-linux-gnu, GTK+ Version 3.18.9) of 2016-04-17 on lgw01-04, modified by Debian
  • Org-version: Org-mode version 8.2.10 (release_8.2.10 @ /usr/share/emacs/24.5/lisp/org/)
  • Are you using an org file as init file through org-babel-load-file?
    – Dox
    Feb 4, 2017 at 9:16
  • I almost forgot that, sorry, yes I do. I have a configuration.org file that is called from init.el with that one liner, (org-babel-load-file "~/.emacs.d/configuration.org")
    – doctorate
    Feb 4, 2017 at 9:36

1 Answer 1


I had a similar problem with my installation, but I'm using the command org-babel-load-file to load an org file as init file.

What I believe it was causing the problem (might not be it) is that org was not initialized when I need it to compile the pointed org file. Therefore, I called it!

My Configuration

;; This is my init.el localed on .emacs.d/
(require 'package)
(require 'org)
(org-babel-load-file "~/.emacs.d/configuration.org")

Right after that, I call the repositories

;; This is my configuration.org located on .emacs.d/
(add-to-list 'package-archives
         '("melpa" . "http://melpa.milkbox.net/packages/") t)
(add-to-list 'package-archives 
             '("org" . "http://orgmode.org/elpa/") t)

;; After this line all your configurations

Notice that I use the org repository, instead of a local github. Important: At this point I haven't installed any org version, but the built-in.

Installing the updated version

Now is the time to start your emacs. If everything goes OK:

  • Run the command M-x list-packages. Wait for the list to appear.
  • Search for org and org-plus-contrib; both from the org repository.
  • Mark the two packages to install them. Use the letter i to mark them.
  • (opt) sellect any other package you want to install.
  • Execute the actions you marked, using the letter x. Wait for the process to finish.

Finally, resetart your emacs session.

  • thank you sir, I will follow your procedure and get back to you later.
    – doctorate
    Feb 4, 2017 at 9:44
  • I can only confirm what you have just said that org should be required early on in the init.el and then the rest of config goes only after that. This way when I hit <kbd>M-x</kbd> org-version it reads from the load path and not from the /usr/share/... having said that I ran into another error in org-mode related to the org-babel configuration. When I fire up emacs now there comes an error with org-babel-header-args-safe-fn which is related to org-babel, when I commented out the (R .t)` line related to the R statistics language in org babel, error has gone. Any idea?
    – doctorate
    Feb 4, 2017 at 14:03
  • when I installed org-mode from Github, this error has gone WITHOUT commenting out the desired (R .t) line from inside org-babel configuration.
    – doctorate
    Feb 4, 2017 at 14:27
  • given all the troubles I encountered with org-mode from other repos, I highly recommend using the Github version, it seems that many bugs had been fixed there.
    – doctorate
    Feb 4, 2017 at 15:17

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