This is somewhat of a follow up to Prevent emacsclient from blocking other instances.

I am using emacsclient -a '' -nw --socket-name=$TTY where TTY=$(basename tty). I use emacs in the terminal and this gives a unique daemon for each terminal session.

If I start the daemon by running emacsclient with no arguments, it starts and everything works fine. However, if I start it by running emacsclient file, it locks down. It opens the scratch buffer and then gets frozen. The only way to fix it is to kill -9 the daemon process and to restart it without opening a file.

I am using emacs 24.4 compiled with --without-x with Mac OS X in iTerm 2. You can get the exact build of emacs I am using with conda conda install -c asmeurer emacs.


I found after disabling flyspell (commenting out these lines from my .emacs), it fixes it. It still hangs on the scratch buffer for a few seconds, but then goes to the file. I suspect it has something to do with starting the hunspell process.

  • A workaround would be to always start an emacs daemon with each terminal session (i.e., in the bash profile). This would slow down the terminal start time, though, and would lead to many unused servers.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Nov 10, 2014 at 23:54
  • I can't replicate this issue. Can you detail an exact sequence of commands to recreate the problem, including the value for $TTY in that instance, and confirming the versions of both emacs and emacsclient (check both emacsclient --version from the command line, and M-x emacs-version from within emacs, and confirm they match).
    – phils
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 0:02
  • Same thing here, can't replicate issue using GNU Emacs 24.3.1, emacsclient 24.3
    – Nsukami _
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 5:05
  • I added some info on how to reproduce. A typical server name is ttys004.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Nov 11, 2014 at 19:39
  • 1
    I bisected the issue to flyspell (with hunspell). See my edit to the question.
    – asmeurer
    Commented Nov 25, 2014 at 23:29

1 Answer 1


I have found a reasonable workaround. First, add a script to your PATH with

export TTY=$(basename `tty`)

emacs --daemon="emacs-$TTY"
emacsclient -n -nw --socket-name="emacs-$TTY"
emacsclient -nw --socket-name="emacs-$TTY" "$@"

called emacs-server-start. Then start emacsclient with emacsclient -a 'emacs-server-start' -nw --socket-name=emacs-$TTY (I have e aliased to this in my bash configuration).

You basically are creating a custom "start emacs server" alternate editor for emacsclient -a, since emacsclient -a '' doesn't work. Saving this to a file is necessary because the argument to -a must be a single command (i.e., emacsclient -a 'emacs --daemon' does not work).

The extra emacsclient -n, which causes emacsclient to start and immediately close with no file, is there because otherwise emacs will sometimes still freeze at startup.

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