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In addition to your personal initialization file, Emacs automatically loads various site-wide initialization files, if they exist. These have the same form as your `.emacs' file, but are loaded by everyone.
Two site-wide initialization files, `site-load.el' and `site-init.el', are loaded into Emacs and then `dumped' if a `dumped' version of Emacs is created, as is most common. (Dumped copies of Emacs load more quickly. However, once a file is loaded and dumped, a change to it does not lead to a change in Emacs unless you load it yourself or re-dump Emacs. See section `Building Emacs' in The GNU Emacs Lisp Reference Manual, and the `INSTALL' file.)
Three other site-wide initialization files are loaded automatically each time you start Emacs, if they exist. These are `site-start.el', which is loaded before your `.emacs' file, and `default.el', and the terminal type file, which are both loaded after your `.emacs' file.
Settings and definitions in your `.emacs' file will overwrite
conflicting settings and definitions in a `site-start.el' file,
if it exists; but the settings and definitions in a `default.el'
or terminal type file will overwrite those in your `.emacs' file.
(You can prevent interference from a terminal type file by setting
nil. See section A Simple Extension.)
The `INSTALL' file that comes in the distribution contains descriptions of the `site-init.el' and `site-load.el' files.
The `loadup.el', `startup.el', and `loaddefs.el' files control loading. These files are in the `lisp' directory of the Emacs distribution and are worth perusing.
The `loaddefs.el' file contains a good many suggestions as to what to put into your own `.emacs' file, or into a site-wide initialization file.
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