So, I'm trying to set up emacs as a server but I'm having trouble getting it to work from the terminal. If I run emacs --daemon on some terminal I can connect to it if I run the emacsclient from that same terminal, but if I open a new terminal the emacsclient will not find the server. Things seem to work well if I run emacsclient from the launcher.

I am running

emacsclient -a '' -t

The client says:

emacsclient: can't find socket; have you started the server?
To start the server in Emacs, type "M-x server-start".

Any ideas of what could be happening?

I am using ubuntu 17.04 with gnome/i3 if that matters.

5 Answers 5


I used to have the same issue until I did:

alias e="emacsclient -t --socket-name=/tmp/emacs1000/server"

And now I just use this "e" alias to start emacsclient.

I haven't seen the issue since.

  • 1
    This worked, how do I tell the server to start the /tmp/emacs1000/server ? (the first client is starting it for me) Sep 27, 2017 at 18:04
  • Before running an emacsclient, I always first start the emacs server as emacs --daemon and it always starts listening on that /tmp/emacs1000/server socket automatically. I'm sure there's a less hacky way to do this that doesn't involve hardcoding the /tmp/emacs1000/server location in the e alias, and would always work no matter where the socket is created by the server (and that is probably how emacsclient is intended to work when invoked without the --socket-name option), but doing it this simple hackish way always worked for me.
    – izkon
    Sep 27, 2017 at 18:23
  • @MatíasGuzmánNaranjo Using command like lsof -w -c emacs | grep 'server' you'll know what the exact socket-name is, and if you are using emacs-28, you'll notice that the socket-name is not /tmp/emacs1000/server anymore, it is /run/user/1000/emacs/server
    – CodyChan
    Dec 11, 2020 at 13:51
  • mine is under /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libwayland-server.so.0.1.0 is it normal?
    – alper
    Mar 3, 2021 at 23:09

Make sure you are using the same version of emacs and emacsclient.

When my system emacsclient is used instead of my custom build emacs, I'm getting a similar error:

$ /usr/bin/emacsclient --version
emacsclient 22.1

$ /usr/bin/emacsclient .
/usr/bin/emacsclient: can't find socket; have you started the server?
To start the server in Emacs, type "M-x server-start".

With the correct version:

$ /usr/local/bin/emacsclient --version
emacsclient 26.0.50

$ /usr/local/bin/emacsclient .
Waiting for Emacs...
  • 1
    This solves my problem
    – xtt
    Dec 10, 2017 at 15:24
  • Yes that solves mine too. I just recently upgrade my emacs version from 25 to 27, but the emacsclient link was pointing to the old version. So sudo update-alternatives --config emacsclient to update the links.
    – ABu
    Dec 24, 2020 at 13:04

For unfathomable reasons, this just happened to me on a FC28 upgrade of my laptop. Even stracing ddid not help. After perusing several links (this included), I came up by sticking these lines:

# bash syntax
# On laptop, emacscclient cannot find emacs socket any longer (after FC28)
export EMACS_SERVER_SOCKET=${TMPDIR:-/tmp}/emacs$(id -u)/server
alias emacsclient="/usr/bin/emacsclient -s $EMACS_SERVER_SOCKET"

Which does not hardcode the '1000' part (which just happpens to be the id of the first user created on this particular machine, duh), and accounts for TMPDIR. Exporting EMACS_SERVER_SOCKET is cute, but useless, as emacsclient does not allow that to be configured from an env var (unreasonably, IMHO).

If full control is preferred, one can put:

(setq server-socket-dir "~/.emacs.d/server-dir") 

somewhere before server-start in their .emacs, and use "~/.emacs.d/server-dir/server" as the server socket name for the above mentioned alias. server-dir will be automatically created, with the right permissions 0700, if it does not already exist.


Not necessarily the answer you are looking for, but I have in exactly the same setup always used just emacsclient -c or emacsclient -t. Meaning I don't start the server manually, the first invoking of either will start the server and any subsequent invoking will connect to the server.

  • This works for me, but again, within each specific terminal. So, if I start a new terminal, it will start a new server. Sep 17, 2017 at 14:20
  • Do you have any server specific stuff in your .emacs? If so, I'd comment it out and try again. Otherwise I am out of ideas.
    – gaussian
    Sep 17, 2017 at 14:24
  • Also: which version of Emacs you are running? My setup works with both Emacs25 (25.1) from the Ubuntu depo and self-compiled Emacs25.2.
    – gaussian
    Sep 17, 2017 at 14:40
  • I don't think I have anything in the init file. I am running 25.3, but the same happened with 25.2. Also, launching the server with emacs -q --daemon does the same thing. Sep 17, 2017 at 14:43
  • Out of ideas, sorry. Works in my setup, even with emacs -q --daemon.
    – gaussian
    Sep 17, 2017 at 14:49

Create a script say "myemacs" as below:

emacsclient -a '' -c "$@"

Run it will create daemon if not exist, and will connect to daemon if daemon exist.

  • This does not work. I get the same problem, If I launch it from two different terminals it creates a new daemon each time. Sep 19, 2017 at 15:38
  • @MatíasGuzmánNaranjo Oh, but I saw you are using "-t", I am using "-c". Did you try "-c" also?
    – lucky1928
    Sep 19, 2017 at 18:56
  • that doesn't change anything, it's the same behavior with either -c or -t. The client just can't find the server. Sep 19, 2017 at 20:45
  • this does not work
    – alper
    Feb 23, 2021 at 14:24
  • I can confirm this does not work. The problem stems from the fact that --server-name is not set and -a '' is present. In recent versions of emacsclient this means starting a new emacs in daemon mode. Jan 5, 2022 at 23:33

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