various thoughts

Richard Coleman
Wed, 23 Apr 1997 00:47:30 -0400

Ok... I've been thinking about some type of lispOS for
a while now.  But there are many things to consider.  It
makes sense to not invent the wheel and initially use as
much of other peoples work as possible.  But that still
leaves many possibilities.  Here are a few things to
grapple with.

1) What OS to start with.  The possibilites seem to be
   Linux, BSD (FreeBSD, etc..), Hurd 0.2 (coming out soon
   I understand).  I've also had people recommend using the
   OS toolkit from the Flux project.  Using Linux or FreeBSD
   is probably the easiest, but the other might have more

2) What Lisp to start with.  CMU seems to be the leading choice,
   due to good native code generation.  But other might be good.
   But I understand CMU is also complicated.  So something easier
   to hack on, might be better.

3) Lisp or Scheme.  It might make sense to use a Scheme distribution
   to get started rather than Common Lisp.  Continuations might make
   certain things easier.  There are plenty good ones to use (scm, guile, 
   maybe Gambit-C).  Of course you lose all the Common Lisp extras such
   as CLOS, etc...

   I guess this is a religious issue, but in this case it probably
   doesn't matter much.  Much of the philosophical arguments between
   Lispers and Schemers are minimalists/pragmatists arguments.  I believe
   working on a lispOS is more in the Common Lisp philosophy in this

4) How ambitious to be.  I'm a big believer in starting small in order
   to get started.  If you set initial goals that are too hard, frustation
   will set in.  A good starting point might be a small, minimal Linux
   distribution with pre-built Lisp (or Scheme or scsh) and lots of Lisp


Richard Coleman