The feel of a LispM/List of running machines

Mike McDonald
Wed, 30 Apr 1997 16:22:09 -0700

>Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 08:36-0500
>Subject: The feel of a LispM/List of running machines
>    Date: Wed, 30 Apr 1997 04:16 CDT
>    From: Martin Cracauer <>
>    It seems we have a lot of old LispM users over here.
>The idea of a Lisp OS we can run when we try to use inferior computers
>attracts us like a lurid picture show attracts teenagers.

  And what's wrong with that? :-)

>I think one of the foremost LispM features is the debugger system.

  Being able to find out what went wrong and fixing it is just so
cool! (Did I say cool? Better change that to "a nice feature to

>Unix's file system is a total loss.  We need things like version
>numbering, ACL's, two-level file deletion (delete/expunge), file-plists
>for arbitrary user-defined properties, Don't-Delete flags, logical
>pathnames, etc. Even more important than the above: robustness.  All of
>these and more are indispensible LispM features.  (Yeah, I know my
>earlier message derided the entire concept of "File systems", and I
>believe it; but I also realize that what I advocate is in the future,
>and we need to start simple).

  File systems still fill a needed niche. Even if we had a persistant
object store, we'd still need file system support for MSDOS floppies
and ISO9660 CDs, not to mention getting stuff off other machines on
the net.

>I won't discuss all the hairy window system stuff, since CLIM handles
>most of that adequately.
>The who-line (mouse documentation, date/time, running process,
>current syntax and package, process state, ->PROGRESS NOTES AREA<-, run

  Yes! Who-lines but format the frickin mouse documentation this time.
(aka bucky lines)

>The ability to grab and mutilate -ANY- part of memory simply by knowing
>its address -- so useful I defined a readmacro #@ to make it extra easy:
>; grab the clock string from the wholine
>#@17000014 ->
>"Wed 30 Apr 7:46:05"
>#<LOCATIVE 17000014>

  Ah, locatives. What's the ole saying "Danger Will Robinson! Danger!"

>LispM bugs:
>LMFS has tons of really cool features, but in practice it's fairly slow.

  Cheap hardware is a "bit" faster than the LispM's hardware.
Hopefully, we won't bog it down so much that the net effect is the
same as an old 36X0.

>We want something that can both replace Unix in a relatively short
>development time, and be the ultimate system on stock hardware.  These
>are wildly diverging goals, but hopefully goal/1 will lead into goal/2
>after the project has gained sufficient momentum.  Somehow we need to
>find a way to develop the system in such a way that after goal/1 is
>attained it won't mind having unix ripped out from under it and a real
>OS put it its place.  Am I off-base here?

  Nope. That's my plan. Start with Unix as developement basis so we
can make a fast start and then slowly ween the PC LispM off of it as
new and better pieces are ready.

>    Maybe we should arrage a list of machines that can be seem and used? 
>My machines are available, for those in the North Texas area (or those
>who don't mind a long drive).  There are still dozens of universities
>that have LispM's laying around (usually in deserted labs).  I know MIT
>still has half a dozen or so up at the AI Lab.  I think a fair number of
>interested people could get away with just walking in and sitting down
>at one for awhile (this is how I got my first exposure to a LispM: a TI
>Explorer at SMU, where I was not a student; I spent weeks with it and
>noone ever harassed me or even talked to me).

  I've got a 3640 loaded with memory, color, FPU at my house in the
south SF Bay area. I can arrange demos too. (I guess I'd beter crank
her up and make sure something hasn't died. The color is so so. Could
be cables or the color card. It has a yellow grid overlaid on the
screen. If anyone knows what the problem is, I'd love to hear.)

>Hmm, you might want to get SMBX's approval for something like scanning
>in manuals.  I've been wondering if they'd go for putting Release 6 into
>the public domain (for non-commercial use), perhaps now is the time to
>find out.

  Since the Symbolics manuals were generated from the online
documentation that's on the Genera CDs, you shouldn't have to scan
them. Getting Symbolics' permission is required. (And fixing freakin
Linux's ISO9660 driver so it can read the CD. It used to under 0.99.X
but they "fixed" something so it's just as broken as Win95.)

>An alternative is to find the MIT LispM manuals and scan -those-
>(assuming there aren't any hairy restrictions on them, which I think is
>a reasonably safe assumption.  Anyone know for sure?)

  I've never seen anything out of MIT that didn't have a big hairy
legal notice on it. I can check the old MIT manuals when I get home to
make sure. Let's see, I think have green, gray, blue, and orange.

>Ok, now I'm getting quite tired, so I'm stopping for real this time.

  Mike McDonald