Theoretically, you can run elm unconfigured, and everything works well--- if you are lucky. But there are a few options that must be set, although only required on occasions.
When it starts, elm reads a set of configuration variables from the elm.rc file in /usr/lib/elm. Then, it will attempt to read the file .elm/elmrc in your home directory. You don't usually write this file yourself. It is created when you choose ``save options'' from elm's options menu.
The set of options for the private elmrc file is also available in the global elm.rc file. Most settings in your private elmrc file override those of the global file.