I use emacs in the terminal, typically with many emacs instances running at once in different tabs. This is a perfect use case for emacsclient, but it has always had various glitches that have stopped me from using it. In particular, sometimes one client will "block" the other, preventing it from doing anything. It looks like things work better in emacs 24.4, but it still happens.

For instance, if I start two clients, and run M-g M-g in one, to get the "Goto line" entry, the other client will be completely locked down until I quit in the first one.

I am using emacs 24.4 compiled without windowed support in Mac OS X 10.10 (in iTerm 2). I can reproduce it by starting emacs --daemon -Q. If you want the exact emacs binary I am using, download Miniconda for OS X and run conda install -c asmeurer emacs.


No, you can't "prevent emacsclient from blocking other [emacsclient] instances", because that's not what's happening.

emacsclient isn't running any elisp at all, so it's not the cause of the blockage. The Emacs server is running the elisp code, and Emacs is single-threaded -- so if the server thread is blocked then none of the clients will be receiving any output. There's nothing that a client can do about that.

You can, as mentioned in the comments, run multiple independent servers side by side. The simplest way to do this is via the --daemon=NAME command line argument:

emacs --daemon=foo
emacs --daemon=bar
emacsclient --socket-name=foo
emacsclient --socket-name=bar

or short-cut it to:

emacsclient -a "" --socket-name=foo
emacsclient -a "" --socket-name=bar
  • I guess this is workable. I can add export TTY=$(basename `tty`) in my bash profile and use --socket-name=$TTY. – asmeurer Nov 7 '14 at 17:25
  • A disadvantage here is that I no longer get any shared state if I open the same file in different instances. I would still very much appreciate an actual solution to this problem. – asmeurer Nov 7 '14 at 17:31
  • Even with this solution, emacsclient (or the server, whatever) will still sometimes completely block all clients, forcing me to find the PID for the server process and kill -9 it. – asmeurer Nov 7 '14 at 20:54
  • And just now I've got a server that even when I kill it, every time it restarts it immediately blocks, making it unusable. – asmeurer Nov 7 '14 at 21:18
  • There is certainly no solution to Emacs being single-threaded, short of re-writing it to be multi-threaded (and there are many good reasons why this has never happened). – phils Nov 9 '14 at 5:35

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