Advertising Your Freedom


One of the first things people starting out with Emacs do is disabling the splash screen. This is simple enough to do, all it requires is a (setq inhibit-splash-screen t). Now, that’s not the only place Emacs uses to remind you of your freedoms. If you pay attention to the small things involved in startup, you’ll surely have noticed that it displays a more subtle notice in the echo area:

For information about GNU Emacs and the GNU system, type C-h C-a.

Disabling that one is trickier. The message itself originates from startup-echo-area-message which is invoked by display-startup-echo-area-message. A look at the sources reveals just how much more involved it is to rid Emacs of this advertisement:

(defun display-startup-echo-area-message ()
  (let ((resize-mini-windows t))
    (or noninteractive                  ;(input-pending-p) init-file-had-error
        ;; t if the init file says to inhibit the echo area startup message.
        (and inhibit-startup-echo-area-message
             (or (and (get 'inhibit-startup-echo-area-message 'saved-value)
                      (equal inhibit-startup-echo-area-message
                             (if (equal init-file-user "")
                 ;; Wasn't set with custom; see if .emacs has a setq.
                 (condition-case nil
                       (insert-file-contents user-init-file)
                         "([ \t\n]*setq[ \t\n]+"
                         "inhibit-startup-echo-area-message[ \t\n]+"
                           (if (equal init-file-user "")
                         "[ \t\n]*)")
                        nil t))
                   (error nil))))
        (message "%s" (startup-echo-area-message)))))

Looks like you’ll either need to write something appearing as if it were an invocation of the (setq inhibit-startup-echo-area-message "<user>") form in your init file (and don’t you dare putting it into another file or a byte-compiled init file or a different user!) or just redefine startup-echo-area-message to display something else. Guess what option I went with…

I concur with the variable’s comment:

;; FIXME? Why does this get such weirdly extreme treatment, when the
;; more important inhibit-startup-screen does not.
(defcustom inhibit-startup-echo-area-message nil
  "Non-nil inhibits the initial startup echo area message.
Setting this variable takes effect
only if you do it with the customization buffer
or if your init file contains a line of this form:
 (setq inhibit-startup-echo-area-message \"YOUR-USER-NAME\")
If your init file is byte-compiled, use the following form
 (eval \\='(setq inhibit-startup-echo-area-message \"YOUR-USER-NAME\"))
Thus, someone else using a copy of your init file will see the
startup message unless he personally acts to inhibit it."
  :type '(choice (const :tag "Don't inhibit")
                 (string :tag "Enter your user name, to inhibit"))
  :group 'initialization)