The Marketing of LispOS?

Rainer Joswig
Wed, 1 Apr 1998 16:58:15 +0200

At 18:23 Uhr -0800 31.03.1998, Reginald S. Perry wrote:

>Let me attempt to explain a little better here. There is this
>perception that Lisp is slow. Now current Lisps that run on stock
>hardware interact with an underlying OS. This os, probably written in
>C, has a lot of built in assumptions. I would like to know how much
>these assumptions affect the Lisp system and how much difference, if
>any, would you see from having Lisp assumptions there instead of C
>I would rather work at the application level, but if the foundation is 

Very true.

>objects, but for performance reasons, they probably shouldnt have the
>full CLOS machinery. But you might want a portion of that
>machinery. This would probably take a couple of passes to get right.

I guess for a lot of things the CLOS machinery will be fast
enough. A process scheduler sure could be written using full
CLOS. The big question comes when you have to deal with
many objects. Like in user interfaces. CLIM is CLOS
in extreme. Unless you have a fast CLOS you
won't have a fast CLIM. The Symbolics is by todays standards
slow. Most stuff is written in OO-style and is fast or
fast enough. Compiling was dead slow. Compiling CL-HTTP
may take 2-3 hours on an 3640 (design from 1985). A fast
Mac compiles the same code (some ten thousand lines
of heavy Lisp code) in little more than one minute(!!!).

Actually I'm pretty sure a Lisp OS without the
intermediate C-based layers (see above) (MCL has up to four layers
of software when your doing OS stuff: file system, network,
graphics, ...) and reduced to one or two layers will
result a spectacular performance on todays machines.

>...its not interested in another OS written in
>Lisp. But it would be cool to do anyway.

There could be a plan... I can imagine a state where
it starts to get interesting. Actually its applications
that matter. Data mining, web server, electronic commerce,
mail server, OODBMS, knowledge-based systems...
There are a lot of high end
applications in Lisp. Provide a good home for them.
Make a difference. More productivity. Less barriers.
Cool UI. Usable documentation (actually ***few*** systems
have usable documentation facilities - the last system might
be the Symbolics - I don't like Acrobat, Apple Guide,
HTML, etc. for this purpose). Be portable. (Apropos "Be".
Look at their OS. Nice, but conventional by todays
standards.) Build infrastructures.

>I cant disagree with this. I think that there are two perspectives
>here. One is to design from the top down. We develop the interfaces
>and envrironment on top of Windows/Unix that allow us to interoperate,
>embrace and extend. I like this idea, I have Harlequin LispWorks for
>Unix and Windows so this would work for me.

Me, too.

Rainer Joswig, Lavielle EDV Systemberatung GmbH & Co, Lotharstrasse 2b, D22041
Hamburg, Tel: +49 40 658088, Fax: +49 40 65808-202,
Email: , WWW: