I recently installed gnome X11 etc onto a previously headless box to allow me to develop easier on it. Gnome and X11 all appear to work as expected, but for some reason emacs won't open in graphic mode. When I run emacs form command line it opens within the terminal, when I try to open it as an application from the gnome GUI nothing happens.

I assume something is still missing/not installed, but I can open other programs like xclock and firefox from the terminal, so I'm pretty sure x11 is configured correctly?

The .emacs.d file is a literal clone of the content of my previous box, where emacs opened as expected, so It's unlikely to be a problem caused by a bad emacs configuration. I'm also using spacemacs, but the spacemacs command is likewise cloned from the old box.

What could be preventing emacs from open as an application?

1 Answer 1


I think you didn't installed the graphical version of emacs, but just the plain terminal version. Just install the appropriate package.

  • I didn't realize there were different versions. What would I be looking to install to get a graphical emacs? When I compare my box with graphical linux and box without they both have the same two emacs repos installed (emacs & emacs-common), and emacs --version reports the same output, so if there is a difference between emacs installs I'm not sure what it is I've missed installing
    – dsollen
    Oct 28, 2016 at 15:53
  • The program is the same, but one has in addition the graphical interface (which is not needed, e.g. when one connect to remote terminals). You didn't write what distribution you use, but I would check a package names emacs25 (or with other number/version). Some distro have emacs-nox (= no X11). You can check also emacs-gtk or emacs-gnome (with ev. a number around 23 to 25) Oct 28, 2016 at 19:15

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