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clisp - ANSI[38] Common Lisp[1] compiler, interpreter and debugger.


clisp [[-h] | [--help]] [--version] [--license] [-help-image] [-B lisp-lib-dir] [-b]
[-K linking-set] [-M mem-file] [-m memory-size] [-L language] [-N locale-dir]
[-Edomain encoding] [[-q] | [--quiet] | [--silent] | [-v] | [--verbose]]
[-on-error action] [-repl] [-w] [-I] [-disable-readline] [[-ansi] | [-traditional]]
[-modern] [-p package] [-C] [-norc] [-lp directory...] [-i init-file...]
[-c [-l] lisp-file [-o output-file]...] [-x expressions...]
[lisp-file [argument...]]


Invokes the Common Lisp[1] interpreter and compiler.

Interactive Mode
When called without arguments, executes the read-eval-print loop[2], in which expressions
are in turn

· READ[3] from the standard input,

· EVAL[4]uated by the lisp interpreter,

· and their results are PRINT[5]ed to the standard output.

Non-Interactive (Batch) Mode
Invoked with -c, compiles the specified lisp files to a platform-independent bytecode
which can be executed more efficiently.

Invoked with -x, executes the specified lisp expressions.

Invoked with lisp-file, runs the specified lisp file.


Displays a help message on how to invoke CLISP[6].

Displays the CLISP[6] version number, as given by the function
LISP-IMPLEMENTATION-VERSION[7], the value of the variable *FEATURES*, as well some
other information.

Displays a summary of the licensing information, the GNU[8] GPL[9].

Displays information about the memory image being invoked: whether is it suitable for
scripting as well as the :DOCUMENTATION supplied to EXT:SAVEINITMEM.

-B lisp-lib-dir
Specifies the installation directory. This is the directory containing the linking
sets and other data files. This option is normally not necessary, because the
installation directory is already built-in into the clisp executable. Directory
lisp-lib-dir can be changed dynamically using the SYMBOL-MACRO[10]

Print the installation directory and exit immediately. The namestring of
CUSTOM:*LIB-DIRECTORY* is printed without any quotes. This is mostly useful in module
Makefiles, see, e.g., modules/syscalls/Makefile.in (file in the CLISP sources).

-K linking-set
Specifies the linking set to be run. This is a directory (relative to the
lisp-lib-dir) containing at least a main executable (runtime) and an initial memory
image. Possible values are

the core CLISP[6]

core plus all the modules with which this installation was built, see
Section 32.2, “External Modules”.

The default is base.

-M mem-file
Specifies the initial memory image. This must be a memory dump produced by the
EXT:SAVEINITMEM function by this clisp runtime. It may have been compressed using
GNU[8] gzip[11].

-m memory-size
Sets the amount of memory CLISP[6] tries to grab on startup. The amount may be given

measured in bytes

measured in machine words (4×n on 32-bit platforms, 8×n on 64-bit platforms)

measured in kilobytes

measured in kilowords

measured in megabytes

measured in megawords

The default is 3 megabytes. The argument is constrained above 100 KB.

This version of CLISP[6] is not likely to actually use the entire memory-size since
garbage-collection will periodically reduce the amount of used memory. It is therefore
common to specify 10 MB even if only 2 MB are going to be used.

-L language
Specifies the language CLISP[6] uses to communicate with the user. This may be one of
english, german, french, spanish, dutch, russian, danish. Other languages may be
specified through the environment variable[12] LANG, provided the corresponding
message catalog is installed. The language may be changed dynamically using the

-N locale-dir
Specifies the base directory of locale files. CLISP[6] will search its message
catalogs in locale-dir/language/LC_MESSAGES/clisp.mo. This directory may be changed
dynamically using the SYMBOL-MACRO[10] CUSTOM:*CURRENT-LANGUAGE*.

-Edomain encoding
Specifies the encoding used for the given domain, overriding the default which depends
on the environment variable[12]s LC_ALL, LC_CTYPE, LANG. domain can be






affecting all of the above.

Note that the values of these SYMBOL-MACRO[10]s that have been saved in a memory
image are ignored: these SYMBOL-MACRO[10]s are reset based on the OS environment
after the memory image is loaded. You have to use the RC file, CUSTOM:*INIT-HOOKS*
or init function to set them on startup, but it is best to set the aforementioned
environment variable[12]s appropriately for consistency with other programs. See
Section 31.1, “Customizing CLISP Process Initialization and Termination”.

Change verbosity level: by default, CLISP[6] displays a banner at startup and a
good-bye message when quitting, and initializes *LOAD-VERBOSE*[13] and
*COMPILE-VERBOSE*[14] to T[15], and *LOAD-PRINT*[13] and *COMPILE-PRINT*[14] to
NIL[16], as per [ANSI CL standard]. The first -q removes the banner and the good-bye
message, the second sets variables *LOAD-VERBOSE*[13], *COMPILE-VERBOSE*[14] and
CUSTOM:*SAVEINITMEM-VERBOSE* to NIL[16]. The first -v sets variables
T[15], the second sets CUSTOM:*LOAD-ECHO* to T[15]. These settings affect the output
produced by -i and -c options. Note that these settings persist into the
read-eval-print loop[2]. Repeated -q and -v cancel each other, e.g., -q -q -v -v -v is
equivalent to -v.

-on-error action
Establish global error handlers, depending on action:.PP appease
continuable[17] ERROR[18]s are turned into WARNING[19]s (with EXT:APPEASE-CERRORS)
other ERROR[18]s are handled in the default way

ERROR[18]s INVOKE-DEBUGGER[20] (the normal read-eval-print loop[2] behavior),
disables batch mode imposed by -c, -x, and lisp-file,

continuable[17] ERROR[18]s are appeased, other ERROR[18]s are ABORT[21]ed with

continuable[17] ERROR[18]s are appeased, other ERROR[18]s terminate CLISP[6] with
EXT:EXIT-ON-ERROR (the normal batch mode behavior).


Start an interactive read-eval-print loop[2] after processing the -c, -x, and
lisp-file options and on any ERROR[18] SIGNAL[22]ed during that processing.

Disables batch mode.

Wait for a keypress after program termination.

Interact better with Emacs[23] (useful when running CLISP[6] under Emacs[23] using
SLIME[24], ILISP[25] et al). With this option, CLISP[6] interacts in a way that
Emacs[23] can deal with:

· unnecessary prompts are not suppressed.

· The GNU[8] readline[26] library treats TAB (see TAB key) as a normal
self-inserting character (see Q: A.4.6).

Do not use GNU[8] readline[26] even when it has been linked against. This can be used
if one wants to paste non-ASCII[27] characters, or when GNU[8] readline[26] misbehaves
due to installation (different versions on the build and install machines) or setup
(bad TERM environment variable[12] value) issues.

Comply with the [ANSI CL standard] specification even where CLISP[6] has been
traditionally different by setting the SYMBOL-MACRO[10] CUSTOM:*ANSI* to T[15].

Traditional: reverses the residual effects of -ansi in the saved memory image.

Provides a modern view of symbols: at startup the *PACKAGE*[28] variable will be set
to the “CS-COMMON-LISP-USER” package, and the *PRINT-CASE*[29] will be set to
:DOWNCASE. This has the effect that symbol lookup is case-sensitive (except for
keywords and old-style packages) and that keywords and uninterned symbols are printed
with lower-case preferrence. See Section 11.5, “Package Case-Sensitivity”.

-p package
At startup the value of the variable *PACKAGE*[28] will be set to the package named
package. The default is the value of *PACKAGE*[28] when the image was saved, normally

Compile when loading: at startup the value of the variable CUSTOM:*LOAD-COMPILING*
will be set to T[15]. Code being LOAD[31]ed will then be COMPILE[32]d on the fly. This
results in slower loading, but faster execution.

Normally CLISP[6] loads the user “run control” (RC)[33] file on startup (this happens
after the -C option is processed). The file loaded is .clisprc.lisp or .clisprc.fas in
the home directory USER-HOMEDIR-PATHNAME[34], whichever is newer. This option, -norc,
prevents loading of the RC file.

-lp directory
Specifies directories to be added to CUSTOM:*LOAD-PATHS* at startup. This is done
after loading the RC file (so that it does not override the command-line option) but
before loading the init-files specified by the -i options (so that the init-files will
be searched for in the specified directories). Several -lp options can be given; all
the specified directories will be added.

-i init-file
Specifies initialization files to be LOAD[31]ed at startup. These should be lisp files
(source or compiled). Several -i options can be given; all the specified files will be
loaded in order.

-c lisp-file
Compiles the specified lisp-files to bytecode (*.fas). The compiled files can then be
LOAD[31]ed instead of the sources to gain efficiency.

Imposes batch mode.

-o outputfile
Specifies the output file or directory for the compilation of the last specified

Produce a bytecode DISASSEMBLE[35] listing (*.lis) of the files being compiled. Useful
only for debugging. See Section 24.1, “Function COMPILE-FILE” for details.

-x expressions
Executes a series of arbitrary expressions instead of a read-eval-print loop[2]. The
values of the expressions will be output to *STANDARD-OUTPUT*[36]. Due to the argument
processing done by the shell, the expressions must be enclosed in double quotes, and
double quotes and backslashes must be escaped with backslashes.

Imposes batch mode.

lisp-file [ argument ... ]
Loads and executes a lisp-file, as described in Section 32.6.2, “Scripting with
CLISP”. There will be no read-eval-print loop[2]. Before lisp-file is loaded, the
variable EXT:*ARGS* will be bound to a list of strings, representing the arguments.
The first line of lisp-file may start with #!, thus permitting CLISP[6] to be used as
a script interpreter. If lisp-file is -, the *STANDARD-INPUT*[36] is used instead of
a file.

This option is disabled if the memory image was created by EXT:SAVEINITMEM with
NIL[16] :SCRIPT argument. In that case the LIST[37] EXT:*ARGS* starts with lisp-file.

This option must be the last one.

No RC file will be executed.

Imposes batch mode.

As usual, -- stops option processing and places all remaining command line arguments into


The language implemented is ANSI[39][38] Common Lisp[1]. The implementation mostly
conforms to the ANSI Common Lisp standard, see Section 31.10, “Maximum ANSI CL
compliance”. [ANSI CL] ANSI CL standard1994. ANSI INCITS 226-1994 (R1999)
Information Technology - Programming Language - Common Lisp[40]
[formerly ANSI X3.226-1994 (R1999)].


get context-sensitive on-line help, see Chapter 25, Environment.

(APROPOS name)
list the SYMBOL[41]s matching name.

(DESCRIBE symbol)
describe the symbol.

quit CLISP[6].

EOF (Control+D on UNIX[42])
leave the current level of the read-eval-print loop[2] (see also Section 1.1, “Special
Symbols ”).

arrow keys
for editing and viewing the input history, using the GNU[8] readline[26] library.

TAB key
Context sensitive:

· If you are in the “function position” (in the first symbol after an opening paren
or in the first symbol after a [44]), the completion is limited to the symbols
that name functions.

· If you are in the "filename position" (inside a string after #P[45]), the
completion is done across file names, GNU[8] bash[46]-style.

· If you have not typed anything yet, you will get a help message, as if by the help

· If you have not started typing the next symbol (i.e., you are at a whitespace),
the current function or macro is DESCRIBEd.

· Otherwise, the symbol you are currently typing is completed.


Common Lisp[1] is a programmable programming language. —John Foderaro[47].PP When
CLISP[6] is invoked, the runtime loads the initial memory image and outputs the prompt; at
which one can start typing DEFVAR[48]s, DEFUN[49]s and DEFMACRO[50]s.

To avoid having to re-enter the same definitions by hand in every session, one can create
a lisp file with all the variables, functions, macros, etc.; (optionally) compile it with
COMPILE-FILE[51]; and LOAD[31] it either by hand or from the RC file; or save a memory
image to avoid the LOAD[31] overhead.

However, sometimes one needs to use some functionality implemented in another language,
e.g., call a C[52] library function. For that one uses the Foreign Function Interface
and/or the External Modules facility. Finally, the truly adventurous ones might delve into
Extending the Core.

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