I have this in my init.el

(require 'package)
(setq package-enable-at-startup nil)

;;; Remove SC if you are not using sunrise commander and org if you like outdated packages
(setq package-archives '(("ELPA"  . "http://tromey.com/elpa/")
                         ("gnu"   . "http://elpa.gnu.org/packages/")
                         ("melpa" . "https://melpa.org/packages/")
                         ("org"   . "https://orgmode.org/elpa/")))


;;; Bootstrapping use-package
(unless (package-installed-p 'use-package)
  (package-install 'use-package))

Then this lower down inside of custom-set-variables:

    (org-ref techela tuareg haskell-mode gnuplot gnuplot-mode helm-ispell ac-ispell paredit ox-tufte auctex json org-grep iedit wgrep helm geiser slime-company company-jedi zzz-to-char rainbow-delimiters avy ivy projectile twittering-mode zerodark-theme pretty-mode flycheck-clang-analyzer flycheck-irony flycheck yasnippet company-c-headers company-shell company-irony irony irony-mode company-lua mark-multiple expand-region popup-kill-ring dmenu ido-vertical-mode ido-vertical ox-html5slide centered-window-mode htmlize ox-twbs diminish erc-hl-nicks symon rainbow-mode switch-window dashboard smex company sudo-edit emms magit org-bullets hungry-delete beacon linum-relative spaceline fancy-battery exwm use-package)))

My problem is when I clear out everything from my .emacs.d/ but the init.el which calls config.org which does lots of configurations, (i.e., I'm forcing a complete reinstall of everything package-wise) I get errors such as

Debugger entered--Lisp error: (file-missing "Cannot open load file" "No such file or directory" "ox-tufte")
  eval((require 'ox-tufte) nil)

That is, in my config.org a call is made, (require 'ox-tufte) and the error above happens. A clean startup (no existing elpa directory) should go and get ox-tufte should it not? It's included in the package-selected-packages list. My understanding is that this

;;; Bootstrapping use-package
(unless (package-installed-p 'use-package)
  (package-install 'use-package))

ensures anything listed in the package-selected-packages if not found, will be gotten from melpa etc. and setup. But then I don't see org-mode (latest from repo) specifically listed anywhere either. What am I missing here?

2 Answers 2


The code you quote only does what the comment says, i.e. "Bootstrapping use-package". If you want to install the selected packages, you have to do that explicitly by calling package-install-selected-packages.

  • So how do I say to Emacs, "I want all the package names you see in the package-selected-packages list installed if they're not already?
    – 147pm
    Mar 15, 2019 at 19:36
  • @147pm: "by calling package-install-selected-packages"?
    – Stefan
    Mar 15, 2019 at 21:34

If you're using use-package, you need not require packages. Instead, you might write:

(use-package ox-tufte
  :ensure t)

In this case, :ensure t will make sure that, if the package is not found on your system, it will search your package-archives for the package and install it to your system.

To avoid having to write :ensure t for each package you want to ensure is installed, you could (setq use-package-always-ensure t). If you set this variable to t, you still would need to use (use-package ox-tufte), you just wouldn't have to include :ensure t for every occurrence of (use-package [package-name]).

For example:

(use-package some-package
  :ensure t)

(use-package another-package
  :ensure t)

(use-package some-other-package
  :ensure t)

The previous code could be shortened with the following code:

(setq use-package-always-ensure t)

(use-package some-package)

(use-package another-package)

(use-package some-other-package)

In regard to having up-to-date packages, you could add this to your configuration:

(setq load-prefer-newer t)
  • The (setq use-package-always-ensure t) didn't seem to work, but the individual use-package... did. BTW, my other question "How is latest org-mode being installed?" is still puzzling me. My version according to org-version is Org mode version 9.1.9 (release_9.1.9-65-g5e4542 which seems out of date. So like ox-tufte how do I tell Emacs to get the latest from the org-mode repo if it's not already installed?
    – 147pm
    Mar 15, 2019 at 19:39
  • (setq use-package-always-ensure t), I believe, should be near the top of your config file, above all occurrences of use-package (except, of course, for the installation of use-package itself - which is what your bootstrap is doing).
    – DerpKat
    Mar 15, 2019 at 19:41
  • org-mode comes built-in to emacs now. I'm not sure which version of emacs that started in, however, as I'm pretty new to Emacs (I started with 26.1)
    – DerpKat
    Mar 15, 2019 at 19:42
  • Edited my answer to include keeping packages up-to-date (bottom of my answer)
    – DerpKat
    Mar 15, 2019 at 19:50

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