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XEmacs is a graphical- and console-based text editor which runs on almost any Unix-like operating system as well as Microsoft Windows. XEmacs is a fork, developed based on a version of GNU Emacs from the late 1980s. Any user can download, use, and modify XEmacs as free software available under the GNU General Public License version 2 or any later version.



Between 1987 and 1993 significant delays occurred in bringing out a new version of GNU Emacs.[1] In the late 1980s, Richard P. Gabriel's Lucid Inc. faced a requirement to ship Emacs to support the Energize C++ IDE. So Lucid recruited a team to improve and extend the code,[2] with the intention that their new version, released in 1991, would form the basis of GNU Emacs version 19. However, they did not have time to wait for their changes to be accepted by the Free Software Foundation (FSF).[3] Lucid continued developing and maintaining their version of Emacs, while the FSF released version 19 of Emacs a year later, rejecting most of the new features.[citation needed]

When Lucid went out of business in 1994, other developers picked up the code.[4] Companies such as Sun Microsystems wanted to carry on shipping Lucid Emacs, however, using the trademark had become legally ambiguous because no one knew who would eventually control the trademark "Lucid". Accordingly the "X" in XEmacs represents a compromise among the parties involved in developing XEmacs.[5]

The "X" in XEmacs is thus not related to the X Window System. XEmacs has always supported text-based terminals and windowing systems other than X11. Installers can compile both XEmacs and GNU Emacs with and without X support. For a period of time XEmacs even had some terminal features, such as coloring, that GNU Emacs lacked.

The software community generally refers to GNU Emacs, XEmacs (and a number of other similar editors) collectively or individually as emacsen (by analogy with boxen) or as emacs, respectively, since they all take their inspiration from the original TECO Emacs.

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