> Well, so what? Why do you think having a Lisp Machine is important?
I used Genera 7.1 for about two years until my monitor cable broke,
and I found it hard to get a replacement--plus it was getting slow by
What I liked about it was:
1.) It never crashed on me. Windows gave me the Blue Screen of Death,
and Linux gave me coredumps--but my Lispm gave me a menu that allowed
me to interactively fix any errors and continue. I never lost
important data because the the OS locked up, or a page fault was
encountered because some lazy programmer at Microsoft forgot to check
the bounds of an array, or forgot to free some memory.
2.) Everything was written in Lisp, from the lowest device driver, to
the file systems, and network protocols--not that I understood
everything. But, I could look at a Lisp reference, or interactivally
test each function to find out how it worked.
3.) Everything was intergrated. The Word Processor/Text Editor,
E-Mailer, GUI-Toolkit, Web Browser. And, I could switch from one to
the other without worrying about wasting system resources, or having
too many apps opened at once. It was like the OS was a large Lisp
Interperter--that seemed to have unlimited virtual memory, and a great
4.) you did not have to specify what datatypes a function expected.
Each operator knew what datatypes it operated on and how to handle
exceptions. This freed the programmer from having to worry about
making sure data types matched and from having to write fifteen
functions that did the same operation to different datatypes.
5.) The OS was Object Oriented. It was easy to extend a class to add
new functionality to the system.
6.) Each user was on the same OS as a different instance of the class
OS. This means that if one user screwed up the OS--it could be
restored to the default class OS. And also prevented one users
mistakes from affecting other users.
7.) A new instance of the OS could be loaded when the OS was running.
These instances called worlds could be loaded in real time--plus a
user could create a new version of the OS for his own use.
8.) Even the microcode could be written in Lisp.
9.) Security made sure that no code could be loaded from the net
without the sysadmins concent.
10.) The system could be configured to be bootable from the net. So,
sysadms could manage systems from far away.
> I wouldn't want to connect a machine running a single-user OS focusing
> on openness and easy tweakability to todays internet.
The new system would have to have a layer of security to prevent
people from the net from modifying the system. Linux is an open system
too. But, most users would want a system that's easy to modify. It
would make developing code on the system easier, and would also make
adding new features to the system easier.
As for a single user system--Lisp does not require a system to be
single user. With CLOS or Multithreading, or even Scheme-like
continuations it should be very easy to write a multi-user Lispm.
When network protocols such as TCP/IP, Sockets, Chaosnet, or Ethernet
are added to the Lispm security could be added as well to make sure
that only the sysadm could change the system. And by providing a
function in microcode--that could not be changed--to restore the
system to some default. This one concession should make a Lispm safe
on the Net.
It a GNU Lispm OS were developed--I'm sure people would use it. What
kept people from Lisp based OSes in the past was the high prices and
the speciallized hardware requirements.
But, If we write our own we could make it run on stock hardware
(Intel,AMD,Motorola) everything Linux runs on.
We could make Linux the FEP (Front End Processor) and have the
Lisp OS load on top of Linux.
Any OS could be the FEP. The FEP was used to debug a faulty Lisp OS
The Lispm would need an Editor, a GUI Builder, an E-Mailer, Lisp
Debugger, and other Lisp tools. Any OS could be the FEP even Windows
but I would shy away from Windows.
The only key difference between a Lisp Compiler and a Lisp OS is
support for a file system, a verious development tools.
I'm sure that someone could write Linux code to emulate one of the
older Lispm environments--kind of like OpenGenera...& this would be a
good start to creating a new Lispm.