Wednesday, June 30

On Lisp

As part of the language complexity article I'm writing I'd thought I'd look at lisp. Getting back to lisp is tougher than I thought. Maybe it's because of
the beta-ish nature of the implementation I'm using (Steel Bank Common
). Nothing seems to 'just work', in the manner you'd expect from
the more common configure; make; make install triad. I understand that
SBCL was actually an attempt to address this and make LISP much easier
to compile and bootstrap onto other platforms. If so, it's a step in
the right direction.

The other issue is the asdf system. Some thought has gone into it, but
I still had problems with it. It took me about half an hour to figure
out how to use asdf-install to configure a package. There were
websites about the internals of asdf, but not an idiots guide. It took
me awhile to realise that installing cl-ncurses was as simple as
typing (asdf-install '"cl-ncurses") but when I did, I was very
impressed - a simple way of downloading definitive packages off the
web. Definitely one of the things lisp needs.

The other problem I'm having is with the packages themselves: cl-sdl
crashes after awhile when an sdl app is running. I'm told this is a
drawback fixed with 1.2.7, so I'm off to try that. And cl-nucurses apps
just can't be used from SLIME for love or money. (initwin) causes the
SLIME prompt to hang. Problems, problems. Meanwhile, pygame works
flawlessy...LISP has a lot of catching up to do, but at least it's
headed in the right direction.

I upgraded from SBCL 0.8.8 to 0.8.11 to try and deal with all
this. Now cl-sdl and cl-ncurses refuse to load because the .fasl files
contain out-of date versions of the compiled bytecode. How the hell do
I recompile? If only I could find a page that dealt with all this for
newbies. It's the sort of thing one could pick up in an hour - or -
two's conversation with a lispmeister, but such people are hard to

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