LispOS directly on hardware or on Unix kernel?

Mike McDonald
Tue, 29 Apr 1997 18:59:37 -0700

>Date: Tue, 29 Apr 1997 20:07:52 -0500
>To: LispOS <>
>From: Chris Hanson <>
>Subject: Re: LispOS directly on hardware or on Unix kernel?
>At 3:13 PM -0500 4/29/97, Martin Cracauer wrote:
>>The CPU interface and hardware drivers alone are reason enough. If you
>>don't like Unix sematics, you probably don't want to tangle with i386
>>and Adaptec 2940, not to speak of junk like Atapi CDROMs.
>>The same applies for Video card drivers. I see no other change to get
>>these than to run the X11 server of XFree86.
>Wouldn't it be possible to -- on the PC implementation of a Lisp OS, or
>indeed on any implementation for which Linux already exists -- define some
>sort of driver compatibility layer?  That way, one could use the XFree86
>video drivers and Linux hardware drivers without having to have the whole
>Unix bag o' crap in there.

  The X video drivers are free to use any Unix system or library call
that they feel like. The rest of the X server is pretty independant of
the underlying OS, provided you have a C compiler.

  For certain classes of Linux device drivers, you probably could
write an encapsulation layer. (At one point, we considerd doing that
for Irix so we wouldn't have to write and support drivers for all of
those $25 ethernet cards out there. But we never did.)

>I guess you can put me in the camp that wants a new Lisp Machine.  I'd even
>buy one of those el-cheapo PCs at Damark to run it and do what hacking time
>permits on it.  But just another Lisp environment, this time running on
>Linux, won't hold my interest.  If I want a Lisp environment that uses the
>platform's window system and system services, why shouldn't I just run
>Macintosh Common Lisp?

  I can't think of much of a reason. Maybe the resulting environment
might be more complete in some sense. But then again, maybe not.

  Mike McDonald