Get Lisp running on OS X (easy version!)

A few days ago I posted instructions for getting a freeware based Common Lisp installation running on your Mac. I have since discovered a better alternative: just install LispWorks Personal Edition, a free environment with a superb set of debugging and profiling tools. Note that it does have the restriction that it will only run for five hours at a time. Once you hit the four hour mark, it gives you a warning, after which you should shutdown and restart the environment. But really, if you’re Lisping for more than four hours every day, that’s great news.

The other option is Lisp in a Box, which offers a completely self-contained freeware Lisp environment that’s ready to download and run on your Mac.

Since the Lisp in a Box site has gotten a little stale with regard to OS X, I’ve created a new package based on Aquamacs, which I call Ready Lisp. The advantage to this package is that it downloads as a single Application bundle. You just drag-and-drop it into your /Applications directory, double-click and go! You’ll have all of the following tools immediately at your disposal:

  • Aquamacs 1.2a
  • SBCL 1.0.10
  • SLIME (CVS version 2007-09-27)

But the nicest part for those new to Emacs and Lisp is that everything is pre-configured and setup for you. Once you double-click the packaged application, you will find yourself at a REPL where you can start right away:

CL-USER> (format nil "Hello, world!")
"Hello, world!"

The disk image is 44 Mb and can be downloaded from my Lisp repository over FTP. Also, please note that this package is for Intel Macs only. If you need an easy Lisp to run on the PowerPC architecture, I suggested you visit the Lisp in a Box site and download one of their packages based on OpenMCL.

Happy Lisping!