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Emacs, as far as I remember, must load the .Xresources file on startup and read the font rendering settings from there. But mine does this only if I run xrdb merge first and then start emacs. I think I have something misconfigured here.

As my emacs starts as a systemd service I've just added ExecStartPre=xrdb -merge ~/.Xresources in the emacs.service. It practically solves the issue. But I still want to know why it's not working as it shouldbe?

Also, my .Xdefaults is a symlink to .Xresources and I use KDE on openSUSE.

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It is working exactly the way it should. ~/.Xresources is conventionally loaded when you log in. Many distributions do this as part of the X session startup scripts. If you don't use a full destkop environment, you may need to add it to your login scripts, which would be systemd in your case, just like you did. The resources from ~/.Xresources are loaded into the X server and apply to all programs that display on that X server.

You may be confusing .Xresources with ~/.Xdefaults, which is loaded by each X client application when it starts, and then applies to this application. When using X remotely, the ~/.Xresources file is on the X server side, whereas the ~/.Xdefaults file is on the client side.

Note that Emacs only loads ~/.Xdefaults if no resources are loaded in the server (more precisely, if XResourceManagerString returns NULL). It also loads ~/.Xdefaults-$HOSTNAME unconditionally. I don't know why.

  • thank you for your answer. I've updated my question, can you comment on that? – contemplator Jul 24 '15 at 19:16
  • @contemplator Emacs doesn't load .Xdefaults if some resources are loaded in the server. I don't know why. – Gilles Jul 26 '15 at 0:18
  • How can I check that (are some resources loaded)? It is indeed works with ~/.Xdefaults-$HOSTNAME, nice workaround. – contemplator Jul 26 '15 at 19:01
  • @contemplator Run xrdb -query. I think if it produces no output, Emacs reads .Xdefaults. I'm not completely sure because I don't know when XResourceManagerString might return an empty string rather than NULL. – Gilles Jul 26 '15 at 20:14
  • There is a rather long list of settings in the output. I think most of them are default opensuse ones. My settings mixed in there, but one option, for which I care most, differs from my config. Is it possible to know where it came from? – contemplator Jul 26 '15 at 21:43

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