I recently had to re-install my work laptop with Oracle Linux 7. With backups, it didn’t take too long to reinstall. The most time consuming task was compiling Emacs 24.5 from source. Emacs 24.5 is required for the excellent Prelude starter kit I have recently adopted. There are a lot of pre-requisite packages for Emacs that are available (but not included) in Oracle Linux 7.

As part of the ‘Emacs for Everything’ experiment, I have also started to use an Emacs package called ‘elfeed’ to read RSS feeds and while it worked in my new, shiny environment, I noticed it ran much slower then previously. I tracked this degradation to the fact that OL7 ships with a dated version of ‘GnuTLS’ (3.3.8 released in September 2014) whereas the latest version is 3.4.9 (released in February 2016).

As GnuTLS is a secure transport communications layer, I decided to upgrade it and recompile Emacs including the updated libraries as I’d done before.

Usually, I remove the bundled software package using yum and install the new version from source in ‘/usr/local’. However, in this case, lots of packages depend on GnuTLS including fundamental ones like Gnome 3 so I had to leave the existing package alone.

Inevitably, since I last built it, the GnuTLS package had been updated and now depended on a crypto package called Nettle that was installed but version 2.x. More yak shaving ensued involving ‘pkgconfig’ and LD_LIBRARY_PATH but finally I was able to build Emacs using the latest version of GnuTLS.

I was rewarded by ’elfeed’ performance reverting to its previous stellar levels. elfeed fetches feeds in parallel and is very fast. It takes less than 20 seconds to update my 150 feeds and the keyboard interface enables me to process feeds very quickly compared with a Web interface like Feedly although the latter does sync between multiple platforms.