I was expecting the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual at (C-h i m elisp). But there was no menu elisp or lisp there. C-h v and C-h f work fine for variables or functions though. C-h i 5 takes me to file permissions.

What other binding is standard to find something like this?

Is that something that has to be installed?

  • Elisp (not elisp) works for me – Ves Mar 7 at 14:40
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    Are you on Debian? I think the manuals need to be installed separately there. – npostavs Mar 7 at 14:52
  • @npostavs: yes on debian. – Pierre B Mar 7 at 17:39
  • @Ves: neither one, nor the other. – Pierre B Mar 7 at 17:40
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    You'll probably want to install this package: packages.debian.org/sid/emacs-common-non-dfsg Debian has a policy against GNU FDL, and they put Emacs' documentation into a separate package in non-free. – DoMiNeLa10 Mar 7 at 17:46

This is a great question!

I've found the directions online to install it by hand unclear and, frankly, a bit of a pain (at least on Debian).

On Debian...

Emacs on Debian doesn't come with the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual by default. It's kind of silly, but Debian stores it in the non-free repos. Unfortunately, a regular apt-get install doesn't Just Work™.

Note: Before proceeding, I assume you've installed Emacs from an official Debian mirror and not compiled from source or installed from some random .deb from some random dude on the Internet. I also assume these instructions will generalize, but in case not, I'm working specifically with Debian 9 (Stretch).

To begin, you need to include non-free repos. Do this by appending non-free1 to the end of each entry in /etc/apt/sources.list, like

deb http://http.us.debian.org/debian stable main non-free

You'll need to run sudo apt-get update to refresh the package listing.

Once you've updated the package listing, install the packages install-info and emacs2X-common-non-dfsg, where X corresponds to your Emacs version, like

sudo apt-get install install-info emacs25-common-non-dfsg

I think that should do it, but for good measure, since I run emacsclient, I restarted the Emacs server:

systemctl --user restart emacsd

Restarting Emacs might not be necessary.

Manually installing...

I have not tested this, but it also ought to be possible to just point Emacs to the appropriate file. The source is called elisp.info and is available at gnu.org. You'll want the "Info document" link. Check M-x Info-default-directory-list to see where the default Info directory is. You ought to be able to either place the emacs.info file there or add another directory to the Info-default-directory-list with

(add-to-list 'Info-default-directory-list "/path/to/my/info")

You can read more about the info path on the EmacsWiki.

1 DISCLAIMER: Although the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual is libre, including non-free repos does open you to non-free software.

2 This should install the Emacs Lisp Reference Manual as emacs.info.gz to /usr/share/info. Strictly speaking, it seems like dpkg is the only dependency, but I couldn't get Emacs to recognize the new contents in /usr/share/info without install-info. Maybe someone could clarify why, but that's more a Debian question than an Emacs one...

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