GNU Zile 2.6.2 Is Released

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Zile is a very minimal Emacs clone that is described in the brief manual page as "Zile Is Lossy Emacs". Zile developer Reuben Thomas is "happy to announce a shiny new 2.6.2 release of GNU Zile" is exactly one bug-fix. And that's it.

written by 권유리 (Kwon Yu-ri)  2021-05-05 - last edited 2021-05-05. © CC BY

Zile 2.6.2 editing a random text file named "interject.txt".

Zile is a very minimal console text editor with many of the usual Emacs keys such as ctrl+x+f to visit a new file, ctrl+x+i to insert a file, ctrl+x+c to quit and so on.

The latest Zile release has exactly one change, a single bug-fix that is described as:

"Fix bug #60519, introduced in 2.6.0, where visiting a file that contained no line endings would cause a null pointer dereference."

Zile is, of course, not a complete Emacs clone, it is a minimal one. There is no web browser, calculator, calendar or games included. We leave it up to you to pounder why Emacs has those features and how essential they really are to a text editor.

The lack of games and other text editor features makes Zile a quick ./configure && make compile that produces a decently small 372K binary. You will need to have the libgee GObject collection library and, for some reason, help2man installed before you compile it. You can strip --strip-unneeded zile the binary down to 308K if you want to make it slightly smaller.

A really brief test of Zile 2.6.2 reveals that it has some minor issues with modern luxuries like Unicode.

As an example of odd character-issues, opening a file with:

"I’d just like to interject for a moment. What you’re refering to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I’ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux."


"I\342\200\231d just like to interject for a moment. What you\342\200\231re refering to as Linux, is in fact, GNU/Linux, or as I\342\200\231ve recently taken to calling it, GNU plus Linux."

..when it's opened in Zile 2.6.2. Still, Zile 2.6.2 is much better than the version you will typically get if you install Zile on your average GNU/Linux distribution. Ubuntu 21.04 offers version 2.4.15, Ubuntu 20.04 offers 2.4.14 and the "brand new" Fedora 34 offers 2.4.14. Zile 2.4.14 was released in October 2017 and 2.4.15 was released on November 2020.

You really should compile Zile from source if you are interested in testing it and perhaps using regularly, it's a rather obscure little text editor that's clearly not prioritized or maintained by most GNU/Linux distributions. Something called "Arch", known for servers that go "brrrrr", seems to be the only distribution with a reasonably new Zile version in it's repositories (Arch is currently offering 2.6.1, and it will likely get 2.6.2 soon).

The source code for Zile 2.6.2 can be acquired from and there is also a signature file at that you can use to "verify" that whoever holds the GnuPG key 4C8EF3DA3FD37230 signed it by running gpg --keyserver-options auto-key-retrieve --verify zile-2.6.2.tar.gz.sig (We have no reason to believe 4C8EF3DA3FD37230 doesn't belong to Reuben Thomas, we have no idea one way or the other).

The Zile project page is at

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