Re: Lisp Optimised Workstation
- From: Rainer Joswig <joswig@xxxxxxx>
- Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2005 21:52:45 +0200
In article <88wae.10593$yq6.208@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>,
"Takuon Soho" <Tak@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
> "nikhilketkar" <nikhilketkar@xxxxxxxxx> wrote in message
> > What would be the best way to put together a workstation optimized for
> > running and developing in lisp?
> > What architecture to go ahead with? Or that dosent make a difference?
> > Would it make sense in investing in more RAM than CPU ?
> I have read that the best development environments
> for Lisp were the Lisp machines of the early 1990's, now
> owned by but a few devotees and some museums.
> There are some postings here and there about how wonderful they
> were, the unsurpassed efficacy of their environments... etc. etc.
> There are some movies demonstrating these environments on the web here and
> and they are indeed quite impressive.
> Yet... here is the curious part:
> The hardware of today probably easily surpasses the even microcoded
> environments of 15 years ago.
> And yet...no Lisp machines on our desktop - yes, most certainly several
> excellent Lisp implementations by various vendors
> and some excellent open sourced or gnu stuff - but hardly to be
> considered in the same league with LM and Symbolics and TI Explorer.
> Is what ZMacs and all the other much ballyhooed features of the old systems
> so hard to emulate with the very powerful software of today??
> Has anyone even tried?? Or were the MIT (and other) programmers
> of 20 years ago somehow smarter than today's developers??
It is not easy to create these environments. It took large
companies like Xerox or DARPA paid research labs and companies
to do it. Several thousand person years went into building these
systems and it took lots of money.
At the end they were large complicated software systems
that had all kinds of legacy code and were a bit hard to move
on. The important achievement was not the hardware (this was
to go away anyway), but the software. Unfortunately
ports of the software to stock hardware (Suns, Macs, later PCs, ...)
did not evolve with the underlying software/hardware platform.
It was also at a time when monetary resources were getting smaller
all the time. The AI winter started... Then all the legal issues
and a lack of interest of the owners to settle those
made it impossible to use the legacy code later by other
companies. Companies like TI complete lost interest... Research
labs moved on.
> ECB in Emacs seems a step in the right direction, but just a baby step
> towards the "what might be".
It's not mysterious. Customers are needed and you need some clue
how to scale your community (which is certainly not easy,
but a key to success). The previous vendors scaled with the
growing research labs and offered systems that came with full
source code to enable all kinds of experimentations. You can
see that Franz has taken some lessons from that, otherwise
they would have been long dead. They are doing a lot of
good/clever things to build a community around ACL
(education, PR, source code, source code sharing, ...). But
they seem to have some other limits (business model, target
markets, gui technology, ...).
For developers willing to dedicate some time I think it is best
to improve some of the better free implementations (like OpenMCL,
SBCL, ...) and get familiar with hacking/improving McCLIM
and CLIMACS (http://common-lisp.net/project/climacs/). It is quite
possible to create something useful based on these. But it
will take many person years...
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