[ESS] Problem installing ESS - I don't understand the instructions

Rodney Sparapani rsparapa at mcw.edu
Thu Oct 1 23:33:41 CEST 2009

PBK Research wrote:

> 2. Add the line
> (require 'ess-site)
> to `~/.emacs' and restart Emacs.
> My problem is that I don't know what `~/.emacs' refers to. I have searched
> the whole of my hard disk for a file with the extension .emacs, or for any
> file containing the text 'emacs', without success. The fact that `~/.emacs'
> includes the slash, rather than the backslash, makes me wonder whether this
> instruction belongs in the Unix installation instructions (where exactly the
> same words are found) and there should be something different for Windows.
> Could you please tell me where to find `~/.emacs' on my system?
> Many thanks
> Peter Kenny

Hi Peter:

The instructions assume that the user is familiar with Emacs or XEmacs.
When referring to either, I write emacs.  I don't expect many non-emacs 
users to decide to install ESS on a whim.  In emacs, when you open the 
file ~/.emacs it opens/creates this file in your HOME directory (which 
is what ~/ stands for).  HOME is defined by the HOME environment 
variable on UNIX.  On Windows, it defaults to "c:/Documents and 
Settings/%USERNAME%/Application Data" for Emacs if not over-ridden by
the environment variable (XEmacs has no default and requires the 
environment variable to be set and the file is ~/.xemacs/init.el). 
Therefore, the forward slash has nothing to do with Windows vs. UNIX per 
se; rather it is an emacs-ism.  Using backslashes as the directory 
separator character in emacs, will work in many circumstances, but they 
may fail in others so they should be avoided on Windows.

Rodney Sparapani      Center for Patient Care & Outcomes Research (PCOR)
Sr. Biostatistician              http://www.mcw.edu/pcor
4 wheels good, 2 wheels better!  Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW)
WWLD?:  What Would Lombardi Do?  Milwaukee, WI, USA

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