Recently I tried to set up Emacs, SLIME, and SBCL, all compiled from source. The instructions that I usually refer to say that you just need this in your .emacs to get SLIME working:

;; Set up the Common Lisp environment
(add-to-list 'load-path "/usr/share/common-lisp/source/slime/")
(setq inferior-lisp-program "/usr/bin/sbcl")
(require 'slime)

This doesn’t quite do it for the latest CVS version of SLIME. For example after typing “(defun “ nothing sensible showed up in the minibuffer at the bottom of the emacs window. By looking at the latest Ubuntu distribution’s slime init file, I found that this is also needed:

(eval-after-load "slime"
    (slime-setup '(slime-fancy slime-asdf slime-banner))
    (setq slime-complete-symbol*-fancy t)
    (setq slime-complete-symbol-function 'slime-fuzzy-complete-symbol)))

My full .emacs file is on GitHub:

Note: I only had to do this because I was compiling particular versions of SLIME and SBCL on a shared workstation. If you have a normal Ubuntu/Debian setup you can just apt-get install SLIME and everything will work as expected. I figure this bit of config might be useful for people working on other systems.