19.3.3 Customizing Saving of Files

If the value of the variable require-final-newline is t, saving or writing a file silently puts a newline at the end if there isn’t already one there. If the value is visit, Emacs adds a newline at the end of any file that doesn’t have one, just after it visits the file. (This marks the buffer as modified, and you can undo it.) If the value is visit-save, Emacs adds such newlines both on visiting and on saving. If the value is nil, Emacs leaves the end of the file unchanged; any other non-nil value means Emacs asks you whether to add a newline. The default is nil.

Some major modes are designed for specific kinds of files that are always supposed to end in newlines. Such major modes set the variable require-final-newline to the value of mode-require-final-newline, which defaults to t. By setting the latter variable, you can control how these modes handle final newlines.

If this option is non-nil and you’re visiting a file via a symbolic link, Emacs will break the symbolic link upon saving the buffer, and will write the buffer to a file with the same name as the symbolic link, if the value of file-precious-flag is non-nil (see file-precious-flag in The Emacs Lisp Reference Manual). If you want Emacs to save the buffer to the file the symbolic link points to (thereby preserving the link) in these cases, customize the variable file-preserve-symlinks-on-save to t.

Normally, when a program writes a file, the operating system briefly caches the file’s data in main memory before committing the data to disk. This can greatly improve performance; for example, when running on laptops, it can avoid a disk spin-up each time a file is written. However, it risks data loss if the operating system crashes before committing the cache to disk.

To lessen this risk, Emacs can invoke the fsync system call after saving a file. Using fsync does not eliminate the risk of data loss, partly because many systems do not implement fsync properly, and partly because Emacs’s file-saving procedure typically relies also on directory updates that might not survive a crash even if fsync works properly.

The write-region-inhibit-fsync variable controls whether Emacs invokes fsync after saving a file. The variable’s default value is nil when Emacs is interactive, and t when Emacs runs in batch mode (see Batch Mode).

Emacs never uses fsync when writing auto-save files, as these files might lose data anyway.