I just installed a fresh Ubuntu 17.10 on a Dell XPS 15, and then installed Emacs from the repos with apt-get in the normal way.

The moment I start Emacs, I get the error message

Error running timer 'blink-cursor-start': (wrong-type-argument listp 0.5)

It then refuses all keyboard input; for example C-x d gets the error message Wrong type argument: listp 10

Is there a way to disable (from outside Emacs) whatever it is that calls blink-cursor-start so that I can at least try using Emacs to find and fix the problem? I have not installed my .emacs file yet, so this is raw behaviour as-installed.

Has anyone seen this behaviour before? Or know what the problem might be?

[Edit] I managed to run Emacs without the suggested -Q just enough to open the messages buffer with the mouse and grab the contents. Then quit and run again with -Q and paste the message contents into a file to save it. This is what it says:

Loading 00debian-vars...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50asymptote.el (source)...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50autoconf.el (source)...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50dictionaries-common.el (source)...
Loading debian-ispell...
Loading /var/cache/dictionaries-common/emacsen-ispell-default.el (source)...done
Loading debian-ispell...done
Loading /var/cache/dictionaries-common/emacsen-ispell-dicts.el (source)...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50dictionaries-common.el (source)...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50latex-cjk-common.el (source)...
Loading cjk-enc...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50latex-cjk-common.el (source)...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50latex-cjk-thai.el (source)...done
Loading /etc/emacs/site-start.d/50texlive-lang-english.el (source)...done
For information about GNU Emacs and the GNU system, type C-h C-a.
setq: Wrong type argument: listp, 10
Error running timer ‘blink-cursor-start’: (wrong-type-argument listp 0.5) [2 times]
setq: Wrong type argument: listp, 0.7
Error running timer ‘blink-cursor-start’: (wrong-type-argument listp 0.5) [5 times]
Mark set
Error running timer ‘blink-cursor-start’: (wrong-type-argument listp 0.5)
setq: Wrong type argument: listp, 0.7 [2 times]
Error running timer ‘blink-cursor-start’: (wrong-type-argument listp 0.5)
setq: Wrong type argument: listp, 0.7
Error running timer ‘blink-cursor-start’: (wrong-type-argument listp 0.5) [4 times]

Anyone know where blink-cursor-start is called?

  • 4
    Does it also happen with emacs -Q
    – Dan
    Nov 4, 2017 at 0:58
  • Cool, thank you. It comes up just fine that way. Weird -- in all my decades of using Emacs I've never had to use -Q or even noticed it existed. It's equivalent to --no-splash, which is fine; and also to --no-site-file --- which 'site-file' does this refer to? The system-wide init.el? Some other init.el? Or the debian-startup.el (I'm using Ubuntu)? Or my own .emacs? I'm interested in tracking down whatever has been broken in this release Nov 5, 2017 at 12:14
  • I just edited the original to add the log of startup echoes in messages. Nov 5, 2017 at 15:43
  • With regards to your question as to whether anyone knows where blink-cursor-start is called, a quick grep of the source code should give you all references. And, we can see that is only called one time in frame.el at the tail end of blink-cursor--start-idle-timer. Since all current versions of Emacs have blink-cursor-mode enabled by default, it is reasonable to assume that you have a user-configuration somewhere that is loading and causing the problem, or you have a broken installation of Emacs. If it is not a big deal, then just remove your Emacs installation and build a new one.
    – lawlist
    Nov 6, 2017 at 1:33
  • Also, verify the version of Emacs that you are using with M-x emacs-version. Some computers may have several versions installed at different locations, and people think they are using one version when in fact they are using a different version. If there is no good reason to use an older version of Emacs, then you should be using the latest stable release -- i.e., Emacs 25. The next version (Emacs 26) will hopefully be released soon. Creating a recipe starting from emacs -Q is necessary so that others can replicate your issue and also for you to verify configuration is not the culprit.
    – lawlist
    Nov 6, 2017 at 1:37


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