XEmacs, nee Lucid Emacs, is a code fork from the FSF
s GNU Emacs around version 19 or so. JWZ created this project when the FSF refused to accept code whose copyright has not been assigned to them. (This is standard FSF policy; all official GNU projects must be wholly owned by the FSF; details and explanations at the GNU website.) Since that time, XEmacs has grown apart from its parent, gaining a more useful text representation mechanism which allows for considerably more flexibility in specifying fonts, text attributes, etc, as well as a package system that allows for downloading and updating packages written in Emacs Lisp. Contrary to popular myth, XEmacs does not only run in X; it works very well in a TTY, and in fact offers syntax highlighting in that environment, which FSF Emacs does not.

Learn more at http://www.XEmacs.org

I think of the "X" in XEmacs as standing for Experimental. It's an independently maintained code fork that contains Emacs Lisp modules and other features that are still being tested before they are reimplemented in the official Emacs by somebody who's not too lazy to assign copyright to the Free Software Foundation (per standard policy for patches to GNU software).

At this rate, GNU Emacs is becoming a mere clone of XEmacs.

(thanks to bis for the correction)

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