Short answer for the web searchers: if /usr/bin/emacs points to jove, install emacs.
I've had the privilege of starting to play around with Angstrom (fork of OpenEmbedded) on the BeagleBone. I needed to build some bleeding-edge software with bitbake on an Ubuntu 10.10 but I ran into an interesting problem. When building the distribution, it builds all of the tools from the ground up, including automake. However, automake would crash when building some sort of support for emacs with a jove crash. I couldn't understand how they were related.
In the end, I found that since jove was installed but Emacs was not, /usr/bin/emacs actually pointed to starting jove. Automake was trying to use some kind of compiler for emacs (I guess it was making some emacs macros or syntax thing?). It must have thought emacs was properly installed and called Jove with a set of parameters that caused it to crash. In the end, the solution was to install Emacs. The build system itself wasn't in error, it was my machine, so it can't be reasonably "fixed" in the code so I put this post in hopes of people finding it if they search for the same problem.