GNU Zile

GNU Zile is a lightweight Emacs clone. Zile is short for Zile Is Lossy Emacs. Zile has been written to be as similar as possible to Emacs; every Emacs user should feel at home.

Zile has all of Emacs's basic editing features: it is 8-bit clean (though it lacks Unicode support), and the number of editing buffers and windows is only limited by available memory and screen space respectively. Registers, minibuffer completion and auto fill are available. Function and variable names are identical with Emacs's.

However, all of this is packed into a program which typically compiles to about 130Kb.

Zile logo


Stable source releases of Zile can be found on the main GNU download server (HTTPSHTTPFTP) and its mirrors; please use a mirror if possible.


Zile is self-documenting: it has built-in help on its features. It also comes with a brief man page, obtained by running man zile, and a FAQ, which can be found along with a few other files in /usr/share/doc/zile/, /usr/local/share/doc/zile/, or similar directories on your system.


Screenshot: syntax highlighting
Screenshot: syntax highlighting

Mailing lists

Zile has two mailing lists:

  • <> for discussing most aspects of Zile, including development and enhancement requests, as well as bug reports.
  • <> for general user help and discussion.

Announcements about Zile and most other GNU software are made on <>.

To subscribe to these or any GNU mailing lists, please send an empty mail with a Subject: header of just “subscribe” to the relevant -request list. For example, to subscribe yourself to the GNU announcement list, you would send mail to <>. Or you can use the mailing list web interface.

Getting involved

Development of Zile, and GNU in general, is a volunteer effort, and you can contribute. For information, please read How to help GNU. If you'd like to get involved, it's a good idea to join the discussion mailing list (see above).


For development sources, bug and patch trackers, and other information, please see the Zile project page at


Zile is currently being maintained by Reuben Thomas. Please use the mailing lists for contact.


Zile is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 3 of the License, or (at your option) any later version.