Version 1 (modified by gb, 13 years ago) (diff)

initial import; needs lots of reformatting

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-070722

  • This will hopefully be the last set of snapshots whose version number contains the string "pre-"; whether or not the last 20 months worth of "1.1-pre-yymmdd" snapshot releases are more or less stable than something without "pre-" in its name doesn't have too much to do much to do with whether or not "pre-" is in the version number (and has lots to do with other things.) I'd like to move to a model that's mostly similar to how things have been (new version every month or two, old versions become obsolete soon after, sometimes changes introduce binary incompatiblity) but drop the "prerelease" designation and change the name of the "testing" directory to something like "current".
  • The FASL version didn't change (for the first time in a long time.) It's probably a lot easier to bootstrap new sources with a new lisp and it's probably desirable to recompile your own source code with the new lisp, but there shouldn't be any user-visible low-level ABI changes that make that mandatory.
  • CCL::WITH-ENCODED-CSTRS (which has been unexported and somewhat broken) is now exported and somewhat less broken.

(ccl:with-encoded-cstrs ENCODING-NAME ((varI stringI)*) &body body)

where ENCODING-NAME is a keyword constant that names a character encoding executes BODY in an environment where each variable varI is bound to a nul-terminated, dynamic-extent foreign pointer to an encoded version of the corresponding stringI.

(ccl:with-cstrs ((x "x")) (#_puts x))

is functionally equivalent to:

(ccl:with-encoded-cstrs :iso-8859-1 ((x "x")) (#_puts x))

CCL:WITH-ENCODED-CSTRS doesn't automatically prepend byte-order-marks to its output; the size of the terminating #\NUL depends on the number of octets-per-code-unit in the encoding.

There are certainly lots of other conventions for expressing the length of foreign strings besides NUL-termination (length in code units, length in octets.) I'm not sure if it's better to try to come up with high-level interfaces that support those conventions ("with-encoded-string-and-length-in-octets ...") or to try to support mid-level primitives ("number of octets in encoded version of lisp string in specified encoding", etc.)

  • STREAM-ERRORs (and their subclasses, including READER-ERROR) try to describe the context in which they occur a little better (e.g., by referencing the file position if available and by trying to show a few surrounding characters when possible.) Since streams are usually buffered, this context information may be incomplete, but it's often much better than nothing.
  • Hashing (where some objects are hashed by address) and OpenMCL's GC (which often changes the addresses of lisp objects, possibly invalidating hash tables in which those objects are used as keys) have never interacted well; to minimize the negative effects of this interaction, most primitive functions which access hash tables has disabled the GC while performing that access, secure in the knowledge that hash table keys won't be moving around (because of GC activity in other threads) while the hash table lookup is being performed.

Disabling and reenabling the GC can be somewhat expensive, both directly (in terms of the primitive operations used to do so) and indirectly (in terms of the cost of - temporarily - not being able to GC when otherwise desirable.) If the GC runs (and possibly moves a hash-table key) very rarely relative to the frequency of hash-table access - and that's probably true, much of the time - then it seems like it'd be desirable to avoid the overhead of disabling/reenabling the GC on every hash table access, and it'd be correct to do this as long as we're careful about it.

I was going to try to change all hash-table primitives to try to make them avoid inhibiting/enabling the GC for as long as possible, but wimped out and only did that for GETHASH. (If another thread could GC while we're accessing a hash table, there can still be weird intercations between things like the GC's handling of weak objects and code which looks at the hash table, and that weirdness seemed easier to deal with in the GETHASH case than in some others.)

If GETHASH's performance has improved without loss of correctness, then it'd likely be worth trying to make similar changes to REMHASH and CCL::PUTHASH (which implements (SETF (GETHASH ...) ...). If problems are observed or performance still hasn't improved, it'd probably be worth re-thinking some of this.

  • Leading tilde (~) characters in physical pathname namestrings are expanded in the way that most shells do:

"~user/...." can be used to refer to an absolute pathname rooted at the home directory of the user named "user"

"~/..." can be used to refer to an absulte pathname rooted at the home directory of the current user.

  • The break-loop colon commands for showing the contents of stack frames try to present the frame's contents in a way that's (hopefully) more meaningful and useful. For each stack frame shown in detail, the corresponding function's argument list is printed, followed by the current values of the function's arguments (indented slightly), a blank line, and the current values of the function's local variables (outdented slightly.) The old method of showing a stack frame's "raw" contents is still available as the :RAW break loop command.

The new style of presenting a stack-frame's contents is also used in the Cocoa IDE.

  • It's historically been possible to create stacks (for threads other than the original one) whose size exceeds the nominal OS resource limits for a stack's size. (OpenMCL's threads use multiple stacks; the stack in question is the one that OpenMCL generally refers to as the "control" or "C" stack.) It's not entirely clear what (if anything) the consequences of exceeding these limits have been, but OpenMCL's GC can use all of the available (C) stack space that it thinks it has under some conditions, and, under OSX/Mach/Darwin, there have been reports of excessive page file creation and paging activity that don't seem related to heap behavior in environments where the GC is running on (and possibly using much of) a stack whose size greatly exceeds the hard resource limit on stack size.

Trying to determine exactly what was causing the excessive pages got me trapped in a twisty maze of Mach kernel sources, all alike. I tried to pin C stack size to the hard resource limit on stack size and have not been able to provoke the excessive paging problems since, but am not confident in concluding (yet) that the problems had to do with resource limits being exceeded.

The hard resource limits on stack size for the OS versions that I have readily available (in bash, do "ulimit -s -H"; in tcsh, it's "limit -h s", don't know offhand about other shells) are:

unlimited on Linux ~512M on FreeBSD ~64M on Darwin

The effect of observing (rather than exceeding) this limit on the maximum depth of lisp recursion in OpenMCL is:

  • nothing, on x86-64 (the C stack is not used by lisp code on x86-64)
  • visible on ppc32, which uses 4 32-bit words on the control stack for each lisp function invocation
  • more visible on ppc64, which uses 4 64-bit words of control stack for each lisp function invocation.

That seems to suggest that (given that the actual stack resource limit is a bit under 64M and that OpenMCL signals stack overflow when the stack pointer gets within a few hundred KB of the actual limit) that ppc64 threads are now limited to a maximum of about 2000000 function calls.

(All of this only matters if attempts are made to create threads with large stacks; the default stack sizes in OpenMCL are usually 1-2 MB.)

  • On a cheerier (and certainly less confusing) note: for the last few years, OpenMCL has shipped with an extended example which provides an integrated development environment (IDE) based on Cocoa; that's often been described as "the demo IDE" and could also be fairly described as "slow", "buggy", "incomplete", and "little more than a proof of concept."

I think that it's fair to describe the current state of the IDE as being "less slow", "less buggy", "less incomplete", and "much more than a proof of concept" than it has been (e.g., there's been some actual progress over the last few months and there are plans to try to continue working on the IDE and related tools.) It'd probably be optimistic to call it "usable" in its current state (that may depend on how low one's threshold of usability is), but I hope that people who've been discouraged by the lack of IDE progress over the last few years will see reason to be encouraged (and that anyone interested will submit bug reports, patches, feature requests, code ...)

  • There are now "objc-bridge" and "cocoa-ide" subdirectories; by default, REQUIRE will look in these directories for files whose name matches a module name. Several files were moved from the "examples" directory to "objc-bridge"; other example files, the "" skeleton bundle, and the "hemlock" directory were moved to "cocoa-ide".

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-070512

  • The FASL version changed (old FASL files won't work with this lisp version), as did the version information which tries to keep the kernel in sync with heap images. Note that it's generally a lot easier to recompile recent sources with recent images, e.g., trying to compile 070512 sources with an 070407 image is unlikely to work without tricky bootstrapping.
  • Most of the changes in this release involve the calling sequence used on x86-64. In very general terms, some kinds of function-call intensive code may see a significant performance boost, most code should see a slight improvement, some code might see a (hopefully very slight) degradation, and anything significantly slower than previous releases should be reported as a bug. It is -possible- that some of these changes may cause errors to be reported differently (the function reported as the function executing when the error ocurred might be different/wrong). I have not seen as many cases of this as I expected to when making the change, but am also not sure that I fixed all possible cases.
  • The FFI-related reader macros #_, #$, and #& all read a case-sensitive foreign function, constant, or variable name from the input stream and try to find the corresponding definition in the interface files. If the name is prefixed with a #\? - as in #_?foo - the macros return true if the definition could be found and false otherwise. (The general idea is that this might be useful for conditionalizing code in some cases, and there should be -some- way of quietly testing that something's defined.)
  • There is now support for making the contents of (possibly very large) files accessible as lisp vectors. (This may be many times faster than something like

(let* ((stream (open pathname :direction :input :element-type 'whatever))

(vector (make-array (file-size-to-vector-size stream)

:element-type 'whatever)))

(read-sequence vector stream))

but has the similar effect of making the contents of VECTOR match the contents of the file.)

CCL:MAP-FILE-TO-IVECTOR pathname element-type [Function]

"element-type" should be a type specifier such that (UPGRADED-ARRAY-ELEMENT-TYPE element-type) is a subtype of either SIGNED-BYTE or UNSIGNED-BYTE.

Tries to open the file named by "pathname" for reading and to map its contents into the process's address space via #_mmap; if successful, returns a lisp vector of element-type (UPGRADED-ARRAY-ELEMENT-TYPE element-type) which is displaced to an underlying (SIMPLE-ARRAY element-type (*)) whose contents match the mapped file's.

Because of alignment issues, the mapped file's contents will start a few bytes (4 bytes on 32-bit platforms, 8 bytes on 64-bit platforms) "into" the vector; the displaced array returned by CCL:MAP-FILE-TO-IVECTOR hides this overhead, but its usually more efficient to operate on the underlying simple 1-dimensional array. Given a displaced array (like the value returned by CCL:MAP-FILE-TO-IVECTOR), the CL function ARRAY-DISPLACEMENT returns the underlying array and the displacement index in elements.

Currently, only read-only file mapping is supported; the underlying vector will be allocated in read-only memory, and attempts to use (e.g.) (SETF (AREF ...) ...) to modify the mapped vector's contents will result in memory faults.

CCL:MAP-FILE-TO-OCTET-VECTOR pathname [Function]

Equivalent to (CCL:MAP-FILE-TO-IVECTOR pathname '(UNSIGNED-BYTE 8)).

CCL:UNMAP-IVECTOR displaced-vector

If the argument is a mapped vector (as returned by MAP-FILE-TO-IVECTOR) that has not yet been "unmapped" by this function, undoes the memory mapping, closes the mapped file, and adjusts its argument so that it's displaced to a 0-length vector.


Note that whether a vector's created by MAKE-ARRAY or by mapping a file's contents, it can't have ARRAY-TOTAL-SIZE-LIMIT or more elements. (ARRAY-TOTAL-SIZE-LIMIT is (EXPT 2 24) in 32-bit OpenMCL and (EXPT 2 56) in 64-bit versions.

  • The lisp kernel now tries to signal memory faults that occur when running lisp code as lisp errors. As a silly example:

? (defun foo (x)

"Crash and burn if X is not a list" (declare (optimize (speed 3) (safety 0)) (list x)) (car x))

FOO ? (foo 0)

Error: Fault during read of memory address #x4 While executing: FOO, in process listener(1).

The fact that things are handled this way (rather than going into the kernel debugger with no easy way of recovering) makes it possible to continue a session without losing work in many cases. In a trivial example like the one above, it's relatively easy to see that no harm has been done and the error should not be hard to recover from. In some other cases, it may be true that a buggy function has been scribbling ofer memory for a while before that scribbling resulted in a machine exception.

Moral: if you get an unexpected "memory fault" error (the condition type is actually CCL::INVALID-MEMORY-ACCESS) and don't understand why the fault occurred and the consequences of continuing in the lisp session where the fault occurred, you should view the state of that session with some suspicion.

Faults in foreign code (should) still trap into the kernel debugger. (It'd be nice to be able to treat these as lisp errors with the same caveats as described above, but that is more complicated in some cases and isn't yet implemented.)

  • An obscure kernel debugger command - (A), which tries to advance the program counter by one instruction - is now disabled on x86-64. (On the PPC, "one instruction" always meant "4 bytes"; implementing this correctly on x86-64 would require the ability to at least partially disassemble arbitrary x86-64 instructions.)

On the other hand, the kernel debugger should be able to show FPU registers on x86-64.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-070408

  • The FASL version changed (old FASL files won't work with this lisp version), as did the version information which tries to keep the kernel in sync with heap images. Note that it's generally a lot easier to recompile recent sources with recent images, e.g., trying to compile 070408 sources with an 070214 image is unlikely to work without tricky bootstrapping.
  • There's now a Trac bug-tracking/wiki site for OpenMCL at <>. It needs bug reports; please visit that site and use the features there to report any bugs that you find.
  • DEFSTATIC (aka DEFGLOBAL) (CCL:DEFSTATIC var value &optional doc-string) is like DEFPARAMETER in that it proclaims the variable "var" to be special, sets its value to "value", and sets the symbol's VARIABLE documentation to the optional doc-string. It differs from DEFPARAMETER in that it further asserts that the variable should never be bound dynamically in any thread (via LET/LAMBDA/etc.); the compiler treats any attempts to bind a "static" variable as an error. It is legal to change the value of a "static" variable, but since all threads see the same (static) binding of that variable it may be necessary to synchronize assignments made from multiple threads. (A "static" variable binding is effectively a shared, global resource; a dynamic binding is thread-private.) Access to the value of a static variable is typically faster than is access to the value a special variable that's not proclaimed to be "static". This functionality has been in MCL/OpenMCL for a long time under the name CCL:DEFGLOBAL; CCL:DEFGLOBAL is an alias for CCL:DEFSTATIC, but the latter seemed to be a better name.
  • The type of foreign object that a MACPTR points to can now be asserted (this means that a MACPTR object can contain a small integer which identifies the alleged FOREIGN-TYPE of the object that the points to. RLET, MAKE-RECORD, and MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD (see below) assert the foreign type of the object that the MACPTR object they create (as do some new features of the ObjC bridge, described further below.) PRINT-OBJECT on a MACPTR will try to print information about the asserted type of that pointer, as well as information about where the pointer was allocated (heap, stack) and whether it's scheduled for automatic reclamation by the GC. A few constructs that conceivable should assert the type of the pointers they create (e.g., some flavor of PREF, SLOT-VALUE in the ObjC bridge) don't yet do so. A rather obvious way of exploiting typed pointers - namely, extending DESCRIBE and INSPECT to show the contents of foreign records - is not yet implemented.
  • MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD is like MAKE-RECORD, in that it "makes an instance of a foreign record type". (Or, to be more banal about it, uses #_malloc to allocate a block of foreign memory of the size of the foreign record type named by its argument.) MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD additionally tells the lisp garbage collector that it should free the foreign memory when the MACPTR object that describes it becomes garbage. When using "gcable pointers", it's important to remember the distinction between a MACPTR object (which is a lisp object, more- or-less like any other) and the block of foreign memory that the MACPTR object points to. If a gcable MACPTR is the only thing in the world ("lisp world" or "foreign world") that references the underlying block of foreign memory, then freeing the foreign memory when it becomes impossible to reference it is convenient and sane. If other lisp MACPTRs reference the underlying block of foreign memory or if the address of that foreign memory is passed to and retained by foreign code, having the GC free the memory may have unpleasant consequences if those other references are used.
  • CCL:FREE (which is mostly just a wrapper around #_free that allows #_free to be called early in the bootstrapping process) is now exported; if its argument is a gcable pointer (e.g., created via MAKE-GCABLE-POINTER), it will tell the GC that the pointer's foreign memory has been freed "manually" before calling #_free.
  • The mechanisms used to implement locks has changed (for the curious, the changes involve the use of spinlocks rather than a sequence of atomic additions.) Someone demonstrated a case of deadlock (where a thread was waiting for a lock that was available) under the old implementation. I'm not sure that I fully understand how that could have happened, but the new implementation at least has the advantage of being a little easier to understand and might be a tiny bit faster. Please let me know if either of these assumptions was incorrect.
  • An EOF (control-d) in the REPL (when standard input is a tty or pty device) has traditionally caused an exit to the outer break loop (or had no effect if the REPL was not in a break loop). If CCL:*QUIT-ON-EOF* is set, an EOF causes the lisp to quit. (It actually invokes a listener-specific method, so in a multi-listener window system environemt, it might simply cause the listener which receives the EOF to exit.) None of this has any effect when running under environments like SLIME, and (as mentioned above) only matters if the standard input devices is a tty or pseudo-tty (where it's possible to continue reading after an EOF has been read.) If running under an xterm or OSX, standard input is probably a pty; if running in an Emacs shell buffer or under other means under emacs, different types of IPC mechanisms (pipes, sockets) might be used.
  • SAVE-APPLICATION has historically changed the type of all MACPTR objects (turning them into "dead macptrs", since it's generally meaningless to refer to a foreign pointer from a previous session and generally better to get a type error than some more mysterious or severe failure). This no longer happens for null pointers (pointers to address 0); COMPILE-FILE also now allows null pointers to be referenced as constants in compiled code.
  • Not entirely coincidentally, CCL:+NULL-PTR+ is now defined as a constant (whose value is a null pointer.) In some cases, it may be more efficient or convenient to pass CCL:+NULL-PTR+ to foreign code than it would be to call (CCL:%NULL-PTR) to "produce" one.
  • Historically, OpenMCL (and MCL) have maintained a list of open file streams in the value of CCL:*OPEN-FILE-STREAMS*; maintaining this list helps to ensure that streams get closed in as orderly a manner as possible when the lisp exits. The code which accessed this list didn't do so in a thread-safe manner. The list is now maintained in a lexical variable; the function CCL:OPEN-FILE-STREAMS returns a copy of that list, CCL:NOTE-OPEN-FILE-STREAM adds its argument (a file stream) to the list, and CCL:REMOVE-OPEN-FILE-STREAM removes its argument (a file stream) from the list. (All of these functions use appropriate locking.)
  • There were a number of timing-related problems related to PROCESS-INTERRUPT (usually involving rapidly and repeatedly interrupting a thread over a long period of time.) This should be a lot more reliable now (exactly what could go wrong and why and how is all a little hard to describe.)
  • Some Linux distributions may initialize the user's environment in a way that imposes a soft limit on the amount of virtual memory that a process is allowed to map. OpenMCL now tries to raise this limit before reserving what may be a very large amount of address space, thanks to a patch from Andi Kleen.
  • There were a number of problems with UTF-16 streams, found and fixed by Takehiko Abe.
  • Takehiko Abe also provided fixes for some code in "ccl:lib;xref.lisp" and in source-file recording/reporting that (still) didn't understand the concept of EQL-SPECIALIZER metaobjects.
  • ObjC bridge and ObjC examples The ObjC bridge provides a few new mechanisms for defining ObjC methods, for calling ObjC "generic functions" (e.g., message sending), and for dealing with frequently-used record types and with differences between 32-bit and (forthcoming) 64-bit ObjC/Cocoa implementations.

A lot of macros/functions/other things that really should have been exported from some package for the last few years finally have been exported from the OBJC or NS packages (and a lot of things that have historically been internal to CCL are re-imported into CCL).

Cocoa (and the underlying Core Graphics libraries) have historically used 32-bit floats and 32-bit integers in data structures that describe geometry, font sizes and metrics, and elsewhere. 64-bit Cocoa will use 64-bit floats and 64-bit integers in many cases.

The bridge defines the type NS:CGFLOAT as the lisp type of the preferred float type on the platform, and the constant NS:+CGFLOAT+. On DarwinPPC32, the foreign types :cgfloat, :<NSUI>nteger, and :<NSI>nteger are defined by the bridge (as 32-bit float, 32-bit unsigned integer, and 32-bit signed integer, respectively.); these types are defined (as 64-bit variants) in the 64-bit interfaces.

All ObjC classes are properly named, either with a name exported from the NS package (in the case of a predefined class declared in the interface files) or with the name provided in the DEFCLASS form (with :METACLASS NS:+NS-OBJECT) which defines the class from lisp. The class's lisp name is now proclaimed to be a "static" variable (as if by DEFSTATIC, as described above) and given the class object as its value. In other words:

(send (find-class 'ns:ns-application) 'shared-application)


(send ns:ns-application 'shared-application)

are equivalent. (Since it's not legal to bind a "static" variable, it may be necessary to rename some things so that unrelated variables whose names coincidentally conflict with ObjC class names don't do so.)

  • A new reader macro - #/ - reads a sequence of "constituent" characters (including colons) from the stream on which it appears and interns that sequence - with case preserved and colons intact - in a new package whose name is NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS, exporting the symbol from that package. This means that the act of reading "#/alloc" returns the the symbol NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS:|alloc|, and the act of reading "#/initWithFrame:" returns the symbol NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS:|initWithFrame:|. The intent is that the reader macro can be used to construct symbols whose names match ObjC message names; the reader macro tries to do some sanity checks (such as insisting that a name that contains at least one colon ends in a colon), but isn't totally rigourous about enforcing ObjC message name conventions.

A symbol read using this macro can be used as an operand in most places where an ObjC message name can be used, such as in the (@SELECTOR ...) construct (which is now OBJC:@SELECTOR, btw.)

Marco Baringer proposed the idea of using a reader macro to construct lisp symbols which matched ObjC message names.

  • The act of interning a new symbol in the NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS package triggers an interface database lookup of Objc methods with the corresponding message name. If any such information is found, a special type of dispatching function is created and initialized and the weird-looking symbol is given that dispatching function as its function definition.

The dispatching knows how to call declared ObjC methods defined on the message. In many cases, all methods have the same foreign type signature, and the dispatching function merely passes any arguments that it receives to a function that does an ObjC message send with the indicated foreign argument and return types. In other cases, where different ObjC messages have different type signatures, the dispatching function tries to choose a function that handles the right type signature based on the class of the dispatching function's first argument.

If new information about ObjC methods is introduced (e.g., by using additional interface files or as ObjC methods are defined from lisp), the dispatch function is reinitialized to recognize newly-introduced foreign type signatures.

The argument and result coercion that the bridge has tradionally supported is supported by the new mechanism (e.g., :<BOOL> arguments can be specified as lisp booleans and :<BOOL> results are returned as lisp boolean values, and an argument value of NIL is coerced to a null pointer if the corresponding argument type is :ID.

Some ObjC methods accept variable numbers of arguments; the foreign types of non-required arguments are determined by the lisp types of those arguments (e.g., integers are passed as integers, floats as floats, pointers as pointers, record types by reference.)

Some examples:

;;; #/alloc is a known message. ? #'#/alloc #<OBJC-DISPATCH-FUNCTION NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS:|alloc| #x300040E94EBF> ;;; Sadly, #/foo is not ... ? #'#/foo

Error: Undefined function: NEXTSTEP-FUNCTIONS:|foo|

;;; We can send an "init" message to a newly-allocated instance of ;;; "NSObject" by:

(send (send ns:ns-object 'alloc) 'init)

;;; or by

(#/init (#/alloc ns:ns-object))

ObjC methods that "return" structures return them as gcable pointers when called via dispatch functions. E.g., if "my-window" is an NS:NS-WINDOW instance, then

(#/frame my-window)

will return a gcable pointer to a structure that describes that window's frame rectangle. (The good news is that there's no need to use SLET or special structure-returning message send syntax; the bad news is that #_malloc, #_free, and the GC are all involved in the creation and eventual destruction of structure-typed return values. Unless and until those factors negatively affect performance, the advantages seem to outweigh the disadvantages.)

  • Since foreign pointers are now (sometimes, somewhat) typed, it's possible to treat pointers to some foreign types as "instances of built-in classes." Specifically, a pointer to an :<NSR>ect is recognized as an instance of the built-in class NS:NS-RECT, a pointer to an <NSS>ize is treated as an instance of NS:NS-SIZE, <NSP>oint is recognized as NS:NS-POINT, and <NSR>ange maps to NS:NS-RANGE. (There are a few other more obscure structure types that get this treatment, and with a little more work the mechanism could be made extensible.)

For each of these built-in classes:

  • a PRINT-OBJECT method is defined
  • a foreign type name derived from the class name (e.g., :NS-RECT for NS:NS-RECT) is made an alias for the corresponding type (so it's possible to say (RLET ((R :NS-RECT)) ...)).
  • the class is is integrated into the type system (so that (TYPEP R 'NS:NS-RECT) is fairly efficently implemented.)
  • inlined accessor and setf inverses are defined for the structure type's fields. In the case of an :<NSR>ect, the fields in question are the fields of the embedded point and size, so NS:NS-RECT-X, NS:NS-RECT-Y, NS:NS-RECT-WIDTH, NS-RECT-HEIGHT and SETF inverses are defined. The accessors and setter functions typecheck their arguments and the setters handle coercion to the approprate type of CGFLOAT where applicable.
  • an initialization function is defined; (NS:INIT-NS-SIZE s w h) is roughly equivalent to (SETF (NS:NS-SIZE-WIDTH s) w (NS:NS-SIZE-HEIGHT s) h), but might be a little more efficient.
  • a creation function is defined: (NS:NS-MAKE-POINT x y) is basically equivalent to: (LET ((P (MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD :NS-POINT)))


  • a macro is defined which (much like RLET) stack-allocates an instance of the foreign record type, optionally iniitializes that instance, and executes a body of code with a variable bound to that instance. E.g.

(ns:with-ns-range (r loc len)

(format t "~& range has location ~s, length ~s"

(ns:ns-range-location r) (ns:ns-range-length r)))

which is probably not the world's most realistic example.

Note that it's possible to construct a record instance that has a very short useful lifetime:

(#/initWithFrame: new-view (ns:ns-make-rect 100 100 200 200))

The rectangle above will -eventually- get reclaimed by the GC; if you don't want to give the GC so much work to do, you might prefer to do:

(ns:with-ns-rect (r 100 100 200 200)

(#/initWithFrame: new-view r))

  • The macro OBJC:DEFMETHOD can be used to define ObjC methods. It looks superficially like CL:DEFMETHOD in some respects. The syntax is:

(OBC:DEFMETHOD name-and-result-type ((receiver-arg-and-class) &rest other-args) &body body)


"name-and-result-type" is either an ObjC message name (use #/ !) for methods that return a value of type :ID, or a list of an ObjC message name and a foreign type specifier for methods with a different foreign result type

"receiver-type-and-class" is a two-element list whose CAR is a variable name and whose CADR is the lisp name of an ObjC class or metaclass. The receiver variable name can be any bindable lisp variable name, but SELF (in some package) might be a reasonable choice. The receiver variable is declared to be "unsettable", i.e., it is an error to try to change the value of the receiver in the body of the method definition.

"other-args" are either variable names (denoting parameters of type :ID) or 2-element lists whose first element is a variable name and

whose second element is a foreign type specifier.

For example:

(objc:defmethod (#/characterAtIndex: :unichar)

((self hemlock-buffer-string) (index :<NSUI>nteger))


The method "characterAtIndex:", when invoked on an object of class HEMLOCK-BUFFER-STRING with an additional argument of type :<NSU>integer returns a value of type :unichar.)

Arguments that wind up as some non-:ID pointer type (pointers, records passed by value) are represented as typed foreign pointers (so the higher-level, type-checking accessors can be used on arguments of type :ns-rect, :ns-pointe, etc.)

Within the body of methods defined via OBJC:DEFMETHOD, the local function CL:CALL-NEXT-METHOD is defined. It isn't quite as general as CL:CALL-NEXT-METHOD is when used in a CLOS method, but it has some of the same semantics. It accepts as many arguments as are present in the containing method's "other args" list and invokes version of the containing method that would have been invoked on instances of the receiver's class's superclass with the receiver and other provided arguments. (The idiom of passing the current method's arguments to the next method is common enough that the CALL-NEXT-METHOD in OBJC:DEFMETHODs should probably do this if it receives no arguments.)

A method defined via OBJC:DEFMETHOD that returns a structure "by value" can do so by returning a record created via MAKE-GCABLE-RECORD, by returning the value returned via CALL-NEXT-METHOD, or by other similar means. Behind the scenes, there may be a pre-allocated instance of the record type (used to support native structure-return conventions), and any value returned by the method body will be copied to this internal record instance. Within the body of a method defined with OBJC:DEFMETHOD that's declared to return a structure type, the local macro OBJC:RETURNING-FOREIGN-STRUCT can be used to access the internal structure:

(objc:defmethod (#/reallyTinyRectangleAtPoint: :ns-rect)

((self really-tiny-view) (where :ns-point)) (objc:returning-foreign-struct (r)

(ns:init-ns-rect r (ns:ns-point-x where) (ns:ns-point-y where)

single-float-epsilon single-float-epsilon)


  • If OBJC:DEFMETHOD introduces a new ObjC message, a ... message to that effect. Sometimes, these messages are merely informative (and barely informative, at that ...), but they may also indicate that a message name is misspelled (or possibly missing a trailing colon.) If a method is redefined in such a way that it's type signature changes, a continuable error is signaled.
  • there used to be some fairly obscure reasons that led to MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE being a bit more efficient than MAKE-INSTANCE in some cases (some of the methods invoked by MAKE-INSTANCE did some extra work to handle Lisp slots even if the class didn't define any Lisp slots. This work isn't done anymore, and consequently there's less reason to prefer MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE. (MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE is still defined and exported from the OBJC:PACKAGE).
  • the preferred means of loading an add-on framework and processing the declarations in its interfaces has changed several times over the last several months. The currently preferred (new) way to do that is via the new function OBJC:LOAD-FRAMEWORK

(OBJC:LOAD-FRAMEWORK framework-name interface-dir)

where "framework-name" is a string which names the framework and "interface-dir" is a keyword that names the associated set of interfaces. OBJC:LOAD-FRAMEWORK should find and initialize the framework bundle (looking in standard framework search paths), introduce new ObjC classes to CLOS, update information about declared messages and their methods' type signatures, adjust affected dispatch functions, and make the interfaces other definitions available. The order in which it does these things isn't specified, and may change in the future.

  • Most Cocoa-related examples (the demo IDE, the Rubix and Webkit examples) have been rewritten to use the new bridge features. (I may have missed some contributed examples; if people want to convert these, that'd be great.) It's too early to say whether the new approach is better or worse than the old, but I've (so far) found some of the code easier to read and maintain. We might find that some things that (for instance) SEND does more efficiently could and should be done via SEND (I'm thinking mostly of struct-return stuff), but so far I haven't seen the new stuff keel over.

The converted code looks like "lisp code with strange-looking function names" at first glance, and that seems about right. The function names might get to look more familiar as the reader becomes more familiar with Cocoa; as someone here pointed out, it's arguably good that the function names are distinctive in that that helps to remind the reader that these are likely lower-level functions that are less tolerant of type- and other errors than the typical lisp function would be.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-070214

  • The FASL version changed (old FASL files won't work with this lisp version), as did the version information which tries to keep the kernel in sync with heap images.
  • There are new interface files for all platforms. These files encode some foreign type information a little differently than older ones did (notably information about foreign functions that return structures or accept structure args by value.) The new .cdb files can't be used by older versions of OpenMCL; using older .cdb files with this version is "allowed, but not supported or recommended."
  • Almost all of the changes in functionality since the last (061231) snapshots and since the CVS freeze on 070117 have to do with relatively obscure issues having to do with passing structures to foreign functions by value and/or returning structures from foreign function calls.

These idioms are fairly rare in traditional C code (though it's fairly common to pass -pointers- to structures by reference and sometimes to return pointers to structures. There are a few C compiler runtime routines that perform some flavor of integer division and return a two-element structure that contains "quotient" and "remainder" fields, but that's typically about the extent of the use of this idiom.) The idioms are used much more often in Apple's Carbon and Cooca libraries and in some of the frameworks (CoreGraphics?, CoreFoundation?) that those libraries are based on.

OpenMCL's FFI has provided some support for this in the past; notably, it's provided support for (most of the) structure-returning and struct-by-value conventions used on 32-bit PPC Darwin. In these conventions, a foreign function that returned a structure received a pointer to an instance of that structure type as a first argument, and a function that received a structure argument by value received the structure's contents in 32-bit word-size integer chunks (regardless of the types or sizes of the structure's fields.) Knowledge of these conventions was hardwired into various parts of the system (e.g., the interface database), so that it was not generally possible to tell whether a given foreign function returned a structure type (or just happened to take an extra pointer argument.)

Unfortunately, there are at least 4 other sets of conventions for dealing with structure arguments/return values on the platforms that OpenMCL runs on (and even the DarwinPPC32 conventions weren't fully/correctly implemented.) OpenMCL's FFI is generally pretty low-level, but to the extent that it's reasonable to talk about "higher level" constructs (EXTERNAL-CALL, SEND, FF-CALL, #_), those higher-level constructs try to enforce uniform syntax and try to hide the platform-specific details in backend-specific functions.

The impact of these changes should generally be pretty minimal. In a "higher-level" construct used to call a foreign function that returns a structure type, the first parameter in the call should be a pointer to an instance of that structure type.

For example, if a :rect structure is defined as:

(def-foreign-type nil

(:struct :rect

(:width :int) (:height :int) (:x :int) ; x coordinate of origin (:y :int)))

and a foreign function named "inset_rect" takes a rect and an integer delta and returns a new :rect "inset" by that delta, a call to that foreign function might look like:

(rlet ((result :rect))

(ff-call *address-of-inset-rect* result (:struct :rect) r :int delta :(:struct rect)) ;; or, if "inset_rect" was declared in the interface database: (#_inset_rect result r delta))

A callback that returns a :rect likewise should accept a pointer to an instance of the :rect type as a first (unqualified) argument and explicitly declare that it returns a (:STRUCT :RECT).

(defcallback *address-of-inset-rect (result (:struct :rect) r :int delta (:struct :rect))

(setf (pref result :rect.x) (+ (pref r :rect.x) delta)

(pref result :rect.y) (+ (pref r :rect.y) delta) (pref result :rect.width) (- (pref r :rect.width) (* 2 delta)) (pref result :rect.height) (- (pref r :rect.height) (* 2 delta))))

Note that this is very similar to what's been (implicitly) supported on DarwinPPC32; the basic difference is that the return type ("(:STRUCT :RECT)") is explicitly specified (or, in the case of #_, specified in the interface database). Whether the "result" pointer is actually passed as an argument or not is platform-dependent (on DarwinPPC64, the :rect structure would be "returned" by returning 4 :int values in 4 different machine registers), but the same syntax can be used (and hides those details) on all platforms.

In the examples above, we said that the (presumed source) rectangle was passed by value as a value of type (:struct :rect), and we let the FFI deal with the details. Historically, this parameter could have been specified as a small unsigned integer N (denoting the DarwinPPC32 convention of passing the structure value a N native-word-size integer arguments.) Again, there are several different conventions for passing and receiving structure values, and it's best to let the FFI decide how to follow those conventions. (Some of those conventions are quite complicated, and depend on the size of the structure as well as the types of its fields.)

In all cases, a callback which declares a parameter to be of a structure type can treat that parameter as a pointer an instance of that structure type with fields initialized by the caller (as in the case of "r" in the example above.)

In the ObjC bridge, the DEFINE-OBJC-METHOD macro has always provided syntax for specifiying that the method "returns" a structure. (That syntax is (:struct <struct-type> <parameter-name>). That continues to be supported.

Apple's ObjC runtime provides different functions (#_objc_msgSend and #_objc_msgSend_stret) to handle the cases of sending messages which return non-structure and structure results. These low-level functions are very sensitive to whether the structure is actually returned via an "invisible" first argument or not (this is only one of a few different conventions on some platforms.) OpenMCL's ObjC bridge makes similar distinctions, but uses simple, consistent rules: a message that returns a structure should always be sent via SEND/STRET (or some variant of SEND/STRET) and should have a first parameter of type "pointer to returned structure type", regardless of whether or not that pointer is actually passed to the method implementation or just used as by some platform-specific code to transfer register values.)

The end result of all of this (several weeks of bootstrapping) is that most things are pretty much the same, at least on DarwinPPC32; only foreign function calls/callbacks that involve passing structures by value or returning structures need change at all, and the changes generally involve being more explicit/declarative about what's going on. These changes -do- allow these idioms to be used on other (64-bit) platforms, and since they're heavily used in Apple GUI libraries and since 64-bit versions of Carbon and Cocoa are announced features of Leopard, it seemed appropriate to get support for this stuff into the FFI on those platforms and to try to do it in a way that hid the platform-dependent details. (I didn't expect all of this to take so long.)

  • The initial listener PROCESS now persists across SAVE-APPLICATION. This means that (for instance):

? (defvar *listener-process* (current-process)) *LISTENER-PROCESS* ? (save-application "new.image") shell> openmcl new.image ? (eq (current-process) *listener-process*) T ;; though of course the underlying OS thread, stacks, etc are unlikely ;; to be "equal" in any sense.

The current process is sometimes used to mark "ownership" of thread-private hash-tables and streams. (Even though it doesn't make much sense for STREAMs to persist across SAVE-APPLICATION, it does make sense for HASH-TABLEs to do so; HASH-TABLES created with the :PRIVATE T option and "owned" by the initial listener process continue to be owned by that the current listener process in the new image.)

  • All of the FFI changes above do seem to allow the Cocoa IDE example to run on ppc64/x86-64 (as well as ppc32) under Leopard, and hopefully that'll soon be true of applications generated via Mikel Evins' Bosco system as well. The bridge and demo code have been conditionalized to support ObjC 2.0 on 64-bit systems, to avoid deprecated functions and methods, and to support 64-bit Cocoa changes. Hopefully, this has been done in a way that doesn't break PPC32 Cocoa under Tiger (he said, quickly rushing to the nearest PPC32 Tiger machine and breathing a sigh of relief when the Cocoa listener appeared ..) 64-bit Cocoa sometimes used 64-bit signed and unsigned integers in place of 32-bit integers; accordingly, the foreign types :<NSI>nteger and :<NSUI>nteger are defined (as 32-bit signed/unsigned integers) on 32-bit platforms, and these types are used in some method and type definitions. (Those integer types are predefined in Objc 2.0, and are 64 bits wide on 64-bit platforms.)

More pervasively (and a little more problematically), CoreGraphics? (and things built on top of it, including Cocoa) uses double-floats instead of single-floats for many things on 64-bit hardware; the difference is abstracted (a little) via the new CGFloat type. This means that (for instance) code which initializes a constant-sized NSRect on a 32-bit machines and has traditionally done so via something like:

(ns-make-rect 0.0 0.0 500.0 200.0)

now needs to do something like:

(ns-make-rect (float 0.0 ccl::+cgfloat-zero+) ..)

in order to compile and run on both 32-bit and 64-bit platforms.

where ccl::+cgfloat-zero+ is defined as 1.0f0 on 32-bit platforms and as 1.0d0 on 64-bit machines. Cases involving constants won't incur any runtime overhead and the occasional runtime overhead in other cases -probably- isn't that great in context (compared to initializing a view hierarchy ...) but it's certainly ugly to look at. It's possible that some of this ugliness could be hidden in the bridge/FFI (by making them do the necessary coercions for you), but there are tradeoffs there.

  • The ObjC bridge has had a long-standing bug whereby a standalone Cocoa application may have needed to find the interface databases at runtime in order for MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE and MAKE-INSTANCE of an ObjC class to work. (These functions needed to be able to send an "init" message to the newly-allocated instance, and needed to know the type signature of that init message in order to do that.) The current scheme tries to avoid this by pre-compiling helper functions to enable calling all known "init" message signatures. (More accurately, all fixed-argument "init" message signatures.) This scheme avoids the need to send messages whose argument and result types are computed at runtime (via %SEND), and %SEND (a) was known to be inefficient and (b) would have a lot of difficulty handling all known structure return/passing conventions on supported platforms. Accordingly, %SEND has been deprecated (with extreme prejudice, e.g., removed.)
  • a couple of little functions are defined (but their names are not yet exported) on x86-64: ccl::rdtsc and ccl::rdtsc64 provide access to the values returned by on-chip cycle counting instructions. For instance:

? (let* ((start (ccl::rdtsc)))

(sleep 1) (- (ccl::rdtsc) start))


Hmm. Apparently, the 2.0GHz MacBook? I tried that on is actually a 1.995GHz MacBook?.

There are all kinds of ways for rdtsc to lose (and return inaccurate or misleading results): the cycle counters for each CPU core in a multi-core system aren't necessarily kept in sync, and many modern systems allow CPU clock rates to vary (for power-management reasons) and/or allow the CPU to sleep/hibernate. OSes seem to offer some support for compensating for these effects, and it seems like ccl::rdtsc and ccl::rdtsc64 can be used to obtain interesting results.

The RDTSC instruction actually returns an unsigned 64-bit result; apparently, some Intel documentation claims that this value will not "wrap around" to 0 at contemporary clock rates for at least 10 years after the system was booted. (If you can keep an Intel system running for 9 years between reboots, you might consider telling Intel that the RDTSC counter wrapped around a year early; they might give you a refund. Or maybe not.) A non-negative OpenMCL64 fixnum is limited to 60 bits; the ccl::rdtsc function truncates the 64-bit counter value so that it fits in a non-negative fixnum; if the 10 year limit for the 64-bit value is accurate, the 60-bit value would wrap around after about 223 days of uptime.

ccl::rdtsc64 returns the full 64-bit counter value, but may return a bignum after 223 days of uptime.

  • lots of bug fixes (not all of which involved the FFI or ObjC bridge.)

openmcl 1.1-pre-061231

  • The FASL version changed (old FASL files won't work with this lisp version), as did the version information which tries to keep the kernel in sync with heap images. The binary incompatibility has to do with how a few pages of low memory in the lisp kernel's address space are mapped and used. OpenMCL was generally assuming that these pages were otherwise unused and could be used to map a small static data area from the heap image file; on some platforms, the dynamic linker may have already allocated data in those unused pages before the lisp kernel even starts to run. Fixing this involved changing the address of that small static data area slightly, and this caused the addresses of some objects contained within that static data area - notably NIL - to change, as well.
  • This snapshot is otherwise just a set of bug fixes/work-in-progress changes.
  • Even though no supported filesystem actually supports versioned files, OpenMCL now tries to retain PATHNAME-VERSION informaton for physical pathnames. (The fact that it didn't caused several ANSI test failures.) This change introduced/exposed a few other bugs; I think that I've caught at least the most obvious ones, but it's possible that some new pathname-related bugs have been introduced.
  • The cron job that runs on and updates the ChangeLog? from CVS commit info stopped running as of a system upgrade in late November. The problem was fixed a couple of weeks ago, so it's once again meaningful to refer to the ChangeLog? for details of bug fixes.
  • FSQRT and FSQRTS instructions are "optional" on the PPC. In practice, that often meant that they are implemented on chips made by IBM and not on chips made by Motorola/FreeScale?. This version of OpenMCL assumes that they're implemented and emulates them if they aren't.
  • OSX 10.2 (Jaguar) and earlier versions are officially no longer supported. (I honestly don't know if things have actually worked on Jaguar in a while, but some recent changes are known not to work on Jaguar and the kernel now inists on at least Panther on startup.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-061205

  • This release is intended to package up the bug fixes since the 061110 tarballs. There aren't too many changes in functionality or any deep architectural changes since 061110, and it should be easy to bootstrap from current sources with 061110 images. (It'd still be a good idea to recompile your code with up-to-date images, whether you download those images or build them yourself from CVS.)
  • The one (barely) notable change in functionality has to do with how the lisp sets up pathname translations for the "ccl" logical host when the "CCL_DEFAULT_DIRECTORY" environment variable isn't set (e.g., when a shell script isn't used to invoke the lisp.) Previous versions just used the current directory; this version tries to use the directory containing the current heap image. The new scheme might get fooled by symbolic links (either following them or not following them could be wrong), but it's more likely to work for people who don't read or understand the discussion of the shell script in the documentation.
  • All (knock wood) bugs that have been reported since the 061110 images were released should be fixed. Well, almost all. The fixes include:
  • a typo (wrong register) in the "generic" version of the code which implements (SETF AREF) on 2-dimensional arrays on x86-64
  • incorrect bounds checking on vector references on x86-64, which caused some invalid indices to be treated as valid (usually leading to a segfault). IIRC, the invalid indices that were erroneously accepted were fixnums whose absolute value was > (expt 2 56). (More or less.).
  • Missing stream methods (especially involving string streams) affecting all platforms.
  • Several bugs involving GCD, some of which were specific to 64-bit platforms and some of which affected all platforms. (These bugs sometimes affected results returned by #'/, LCM, and other funtions.)
  • OpenMCL has only ever supported an ELEMENT-TYPE argument of ([signed,unsigned]-byte 8|16|32|64) on binary file streams (with 64-bit types supported only on 64-bit platforms.) It has not previously tried to upgrade a supplied element-type to a supported one (it does now) and any errors that resulted from supplying an element-type that was not supported (and could not be upgraded) were either obscure side-effects or quiet misbehavior; an error (a SIMPLE-ERROR complaining about the unsupported element type) is now signaled as soon as attempts to upgrade to a supported element type fail. I believe that the current behavior is both compliant and reasonable; it's probably better to discuss that issue on openmcl-devel than to do so here.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-061110

  • The FASL version changed (old FASL files won't work with this lisp version), as did the version information which tries to keep the kernel in sync with heap images.
  • Several bug fixes (see ChangeLog?), and modest-to-moderate performance improvements. Notably, AREF and (SETF AREF) of 2- and 3-dimensional arrays are open-coded in more cases and are usually at least 5x faster than in previous versions. If the compiler knows that the array in question is a SIMPLE-ARRAY of appropiate dimensionality and knows the array's element-type, the speedup can be much greater. There are certainly opportunities for further improvements here, both in breadth (handling more cases) and depth (eliminating some type-and-bounds checking in safe code, doing parts of index calculations at compile-time when bounds and indices are constants ...), but things are generally improved.
  • QUIT and SAVE-APPLICATION work a little differently; in particular, SAVE-APPLICATION sometimes runs after #_exit is called (via the #_atexit mechanism). The motivation for this change has to do with how some environments (Cocoa, to name one) conflate the ideas of "shutting down the GUI" with "exiting the application". Previous versions of OpenMCL tried to work around this by overriding some internal Cocoa methods; that approach was never particularly attractive and (predictably) it'll break in future OSX releases. The new scheme (which involves letting code run after #_exit has been called) certainly offers other ways to lose; so far, I haven't seen evidence of such lossage.
  • For historical reasons (forgotten historical reasons, in fact) the PPC versions of OpenMCL run with floating-point underflow exceptions disabled (the x86-64 versions enable these exceptions by default.) This should change soon (as soon as I remember to change it ...); it's unlikely that this will affect much user code, but it's possible that it'll do so.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-061024

  • The FASL version changed (old FASL files won't work with this lisp version), as did the version information which tries to keep the kernel in sync with heap images.
  • Linux users: it's possible (depending on the distribution that you use) that the lisp kernel will claim to depend on newer versions of some shared libraries than the versions that you have installed. This is mostly just an artifact of the GNU linker, which adds version information to dependent library references even though no strong dependency exists. If you run into this, you should be able to simply cd to the appropriate build directory under ccl/lisp-kernel and do a "make".
  • There's now a port of OpenMCL to FreeBSD/amd64; it claims to be of beta quality. (The problems that made it too unstable to release as of a few months ago have been fixed; I stil run into occasional FreeBSD-specific issues, and some such issues may remain.)
  • The Darwin X8664 port is a bit more stable (no longer generates obscure "Trace/BKPT trap" exits or spurious-looking FP exceptions.) I'd never want to pass up a chance to speak ill of Mach, but both of these bugs seemed to be OpenMCL problems rather than Mach kernel problems, as I'd previously more-or-less assumed.
  • I generally don't use SLIME with OpenMCL, but limited testing with the 2006-04-20 verson of SLIME seems to indicate that no changes to SLIME are necessary to work with this version.
  • CHAR-CODE-LIMIT is now #x110000, which means that all Unicode characters can be directly represented. There is one CHARACTER type (all CHARACTERs are BASE-CHARs) and one string type (all STRINGs are BASE-STRINGs.) This change (and some other changes in the compiler and runtime) made the heap images a few MB larger than in previous versions.
  • As of Unicode 5.0, only about 100,000 of 1114112./#x110000 CHAR-CODEs are actually defined; the function CODE-CHAR knows that certain ranges of code values (notably #xd800-#xddff) will never be valid character codes and will return NIL for arguments in that range, but may return a non-NIL value (an undefined/non-standard CHARACTER object) for other unassigned code values.
  • The :EXTERNAL-FORMAT argument to OPEN/LOAD/COMPILE-FILE has been extended to allow the stream's character encoding scheme (as well as line-termination conventions) to be specified; see more details below. MAKE-SOCKET has been extended to allow an :EXTERNAL-FORMAT argument with similar semantics.
  • Strings of the form "u+xxxx" - where "x" is a sequence of one or more hex digits- can be used as as character names to denote the character whose code is the value of the string of hex digits. (The + character is actually optional, so #\u+0020, #\U0020, and #\U+20 all refer to the #\Space character.) Characters with codes in the range #xa0-#x7ff (IIRC) also have symbolic names (the names from the Unicode standard with spaces replaced with underscores), so #\Greek_Capital_Letter_Epsilon can be used to refer to the character whose CHAR-CODE is #x395.
  • The line-termination convention popularized with the CP/M operating system (and used in its descendants) - e.g., CRLF - is now supported, as is the use of Unicode #\Line_Separator (#\u+2028).
  • About 15-20 character encoding schemes are defined (so far); these include UTF-8/16/32 and the big-endian/little-endian variants of the latter two and ISO-8859-* 8-bit encodings. (There is not yet any support for traditional (non-Unicode) ways of externally encoding characters used in Asian languages, support for legacy MacOS encodings, legacy Windows/DOS/IBM encodings, ...) It's hoped that the existing infrastructure will handle most (if not all) of what's missing; that may not be the case for "stateful" encodings (where the way that a given character is encoded/decoded depend on context, like the value of the preceding/following character.)
  • There isn't yet any support for Unicode-aware collation (CHAR> and related CL functions just compare character codes, which can give meaningless results for non-STANDARD-CHARs), case-inversion, or normalization/denormalization. There's generally good support for this sort of thing in OS-provided libraries (e.g., CoreFoundation? on MacOSX), and it's not yet clear whether it'd be best to duplicate that in lisp or leverage library support.
  • Unicode-aware FFI functions and macros are still in a sort of embryonic state if they're there at all; things like WITH-CSTRs continue to exist (and continue to assume an 8-bit character encoding.)
  • Characters that can't be represented in a fixed-width 8-bit character encoding are replaced with #\Sub (= (code-char 26) = Z) on output, so if you do something like:

? (format t "~a" #\u+20a0)

you might see a #\Sub character (however that's displayed on the terminal device/Emacs buffer) or a Euro currency sign or practically anything else (depending on how lisp is configured to encode output to *TERMINAL-IO* and on how the terminal/Emacs is configured to decode its input.

On output to streams with character encodings that can encode the full range of Unicode - and on input from any stream - "unencodable characters" are represented using the Unicode #\Replacement_Character (= #\U+fffd); the presence of such a character usually indicates that something got lost in translation (data wasn't encoded properly or there was a bug in the decoding process.)

  • Streams encoded in schemes which use more than one octet per code unit (UTF-16, UTF-32, ...) and whose endianness is not explicit will be written with a leading byte-order-mark character on (new) output and will expect a BOM on input; if a BOM is missing from input data, that data will be assumed to have been serialized in big-endian order. Streams encoded in variants of these schemes whose endianness is explicit (UTF-16BE, UCS-4LE, ...) will not have byte-order-marks written on output or expected on input. (UTF-8 streams might also contain encoded byte-order-marks; even though UTF-8 uses a single octet per code unit - and possibly more than one code unit per character - this convention is sometimes used to advertise that the stream is UTF-8- encoded. The current implementation doesn't skip over/ignore leading BOMs on UTF8-encoded input, but it probably should.)

If the preceding paragraph made little sense, a shorter version is that sometimes the endianness of encoded data matters and there are conventions for expressing the endianness of encoded data; I think that OpenMCL gets it mostly right, but (even if that's true) the real world may be messier.

  • By default, OpenMCL uses ISO-8859-1 encoding for *TERMINAL-IO* and for all streams whose EXTERNAL-FORMAT isn't explicitly specified. (ISO-8859-1 just covers the first 256 Unicode code points, where the first 128 code points are equivalent to US-ASCII.) That should be pretty much equivalent to what previous versions (that only supported 8-bit characters) did, but it may not be optimal for users working in a particular locale. The default for *TERMINAL-IO* can be set via a command-line argument (see below) and this setting persists across calls to SAVE-APPLICATION, but it's not clear that there's a good way of setting it automatically (e.g., by checking the POSIX "locale" settings on startup.) Thing like POSIX locales aren't always set correctly (even if they're set correctly for the shell/terminal, they may not be set correctly when running under Emacs ...) and in general, *TERMINAL-IO*'s notion of the character encoding it's using and the "terminal device"/Emacs subprocess's notion need to agree (and fonts need to contain glyphs for the right set of characters) in order for everything to "work". Using ISO-8859-1 as the default seemed to increase the likelyhood that most things would work even if things aren't quite set up ideally (since no character translation occurs for 8-bit characters in ISO-8859-1.)
  • In non-Unicode-related news: the rewrite of OpenMCL's stream code that was started a few months ago should now be complete (no more "missing method for BASIC-STREAM" errors, or at least there shouldn't be any.)
  • I haven't done anything with the Cocoa bridge/demos lately, besides a little bit of smoke-testing.

Some implementation/usage details:

Character encodings.

CHARACTER-ENCODINGs are objects (structures) that're named by keywords (:ISO-8859-1, :UTF-8, etc.). The structures contain attributes of the encoding and functions used to encode/decode external data, but unless you're trying to define or debug an encoding there's little reason to know much about the CHARACTER-ENCODING objects and it's generally desirable (and sometimes necessary) to refer to the encoding via its name.

Most encodings have "aliases"; the encoding named :ISO-8859-1 can also be referred to by the names :LATIN1 and :IBM819, among others. Where possible, the keywordized name of an encoding is equivalent to the preferred MIME charset name (and the aliases are all registered IANA charset names.)

NIL is an alias for the :ISO-8859-1 encoding; it's treated a little specially by the I/O system.

The function CCL:DESCRIBE-CHARACTER-ENCODINGS will write descriptions of all defined character encodings to *terminal-io*; these descriptions include the names of the encoding's aliases and a doc string which briefly describes each encoding's properties and intended use.

Line-termination conventions.

As noted in the <=1.0 documentation, the keywords :UNIX, :MACOS, and :INFERRED can be used to denote a stream's line-termination conventions. (:INFERRED is only useful for FILE-STREAMs that're open for :INPUT or :IO.) In this release, the keyword :CR can also be used to indicate that a stream uses #\Return characters for line-termination (equivalent to :MACOS), the keyword :UNICODE denotes that the stream uses Unicode #\Line_Separator characters to terminate lines, and the keywords :CRLF, :CP/M, :MSDOS, :DOS, and :WINDOWS all indicate that lines are terminated via a #\Return #\Linefeed sequence.

In some contexts (when specifying EXTERNAL-FORMATs), the keyword :DEFAULT can also be used; in this case, it's equivalent to specifying the value of the variable CCL:*DEFAULT-LINE-TERMINATION*. The initial value of this variable is :UNIX.

Note that the set of keywords used to denote CHARACTER-ENCODINGs and the set of keywords used to denote line-termination conventions is disjoint: a keyword denotes at most a character encoding or a line termination convention, but never both.


EXTERNAL-FORMATs are also objects (structures) with two read-only fields that can be accessed via the functions EXTERNAL-FORMAT-LINE-TERMINATION and EXTERNAL-FORMAT-CHARACTER-ENCODING; the values of these fields are line-termination-convention-names and character-encoding names as described above.


MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT &key domain character-encoding line-termination

(Despite the function's name, it doesn't necessarily create a new, unique EXTERNAL-FORMAT object: two calls to MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT with the same arguments made in the same dynamic environment will return the same (eq) object.)

Both the :LINE-TERMINATION and :CHARACTER-ENCODING arguments default to :DEFAULT; if :LINE-TERMINATION is specified as or defaults to :DEFAULT, the value of CCL:*DEFAULT-LINE-TERMINATION* is used to provide a concrete value.

When the :CHARACTER-ENCODING argument is specifed as/defaults to :DEFAULT, the concrete character encoding name that's actually used depends on the value of the :DOMAIN argument to MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT. The :DOMAIN-ARGUMENT's value can be practically anything; when it's the keyword :FILE and the :CHARACTER-ENCODING argument's value is :DEFAULT, the concrete character encoding name that's used will be the value of the variable CCL:*DEFAULT-FILE-CHARACTER-ENCODING*; the initial value of this variable is NIL (which is an alias for :ISO-8859-1). If the value of the :DOMAIN argument is :SOCKET and the :CHARACTER-ENCODING argument's value is :DEFAULT, the value of CCL:*DEFAULT-SOCKET-CHARACTER-ENCODING* is used as a concrete character encoding name. The initial value of CCL:*DEFAULT-SOCKET-CHARACTER-ENCODING* is NIL, again denoting the :ISO-8859-1 encoding. If the value of the :DOMAIN argument is anything else, :ISO-8859-1 is also used (but there's no way to override this.)

The result of a call to MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT can be used as the value of the :EXTERNAL-FORMAT argument to OPEN, LOAD, COMPILE-FILE, and MAKE-SOCKET; it's also possible to use a few shorthand constructs in these contexts:

  • if ARG is unspecified or specified as :DEFAULT, the value of the variable CCL:*DEFAULT-EXTERNAL-FORMAT* is used. Since the value of this variable has historically been used to name a default line-termination convention, this case effectively falls into the next one:
  • if ARG is a keyword which names a concrete line-termination convention, an EXTERNAL-FORMAT equivalent to the result of calling (MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT :line-termination ARG)

will be used

  • if ARG is a keyword which names a character encoding, an EXTERNAL-FORMAT equvalent to the result of calling (MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT :character-encoding ARG) will be used
  • if ARG is a list, the result of (APPLY #'MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT ARG) will be used

(When MAKE-EXTERNAL-FORMAT is called to create an EXTERNAL-FORMAT object from one of these shorthand designators, the value of the :DOMAIN keyword argument is :FILE for OPEN,LOAD, and COMPILE-FILE and :SOCKET for MAKE-SOCKET.)

STREAM-EXTERNAL-FORMAT. The CL function STREAM-EXTERNAL-FORMAT - which is portably defined on FILE-STREAMs - can be applied to any open stream in this release and will return an EXTERNAL-FORMAT object when applied to an open CHARACTER-STREAM. For open CHARACTER-STREAMs (other than STRING-STREAMs), SETF can be used with STREAM-EXTERNAL-FORMAT to change the stream's character encoding, line-termination, or both.

If a "shorthand" external-format designator is used in a call to (SETF STREAM-EXTERNAL-FORMAT), the "domain" used to construct an EXTERNAL-FORMAT is derived from the class of the stream in the obvious way (:FILE for FILE-STREAMs, :SOCKET for ... well, for sockets ...)

Note that the effect or doing something like:

(let* ((s (open "foo" ... :external-format :utf-8)))

... (unread-char ch s) (eetf (stream-external-format s) :us-ascii) (read-char s))

might or might not be what was intended. The current behavior is that the call to READ-CHAR will return the previously unread character CH, which might surprise any code which assumes that the READ-CHAR will return something encodable in 7 or 8 bits. Since functions like READ may call UNREAD-CHAR "behind your back", it may or may not be obvious that this has even occurred; the best approach to dealing with this issue might be to avoid using READ or explicit calls to UNREAD-CHAR when processing content encoded in multiple external formats.

There's a similar issue with "bivalent" streams (sockets) which can do both character and binary I/O with an :ELEMENT-TYPE of (UNSIGNED-BYTE 8). Historically, the sequence:

(unread-char ch s) (read-byte s)

caused the READ-BYTE to return (CHAR-CODE CH); that made sense when everything was implicitly encoded as :ISO-8859-1, but may not make any sense anymore. (The only thing that seems to make sense in that case is to clear the unread character and read the next octet; that's implemented in some cases but I don't think that things are always handled consistently.)

Command-line argument for specifying the character encoding to be used for *TERMINAL-IO*.

Shortly after a saved lisp image starts up, it creates the standard CL streams (like *STANDARD-OUTPUT*, *TERMINAL-IO*, *QUERY-IO*, etc.); most of these streams are usually SYNONYM-STREAMS which reference the TWO-WAY-STREAM *TERMINAL-IO*, which is itself comprised of a pair of CHARACTER-STREAMs. The character encoding used for any CHARACTER-STREAMs created during this process is the one named by the value of the variable CCL:*TERMINAL-CHARACTER-ENCODING-NAME*; this value is initially NIL.

The -K or --terminal-encoding command-line argument can be used to set the value of this variable (the argument is processed before the standard streams are created.) The string which is the value of the -K/--terminal-encoding argument is uppercased and interned in the KEYWORD package; if an encoding named by that keyword exists, CCL:*TERMINAL-CHARACTER-ENCODING-NAME* is set to the name of that encoding. For example:

shell> openmcl -K utf-8

will have the effect of making the standard CL streams use :UTF-8 as their character encoding.

(It's probably possible - but a bit awkward - to use (SETF EXTERNAL-FORMAT) from one's init file or --eval arguments or similar to change existing streams' character encodings; the hard/awkward parts of doing so include the difficulty of determining which standard streams are "real" character streams and which are aliases/composite streams.)

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-069826

  • There's an (alpha-quality, maybe) port to x86-64 Darwin (e.g., the Mac Pro.) Some known problems include:

  • infrequently (but not infrequently enough) the lisp dies on startup with a spurious "Trace/BKPT trap" error message. This seems to be timing-dependent and (very generally) seems to involve the Mach exception thread not recognizing an exception used to effect exception return. Sometimes, this shows up as a (:SIGNALED 5) error when REBUILD-CCL runs the lisp to create a new image.
  • some math library primitives (#_asin, for one) generate spurious incidental FP exceptions that have nothing to do with the validity of the arguments or result. To work around this, the lisp ignores FP exceptions which might have occurred during a call into the math library; that means that it doesn't detect -real- FP exceptions when they're signaled. (This bug only affects things that call into the system math library; lisp arithmetic operations that're done inline are not affected.)
  • The version of OSX/Darwin that shipped with the Mac Pro is missing some functionality that from OpenMCL's point of view is highly desirable (namely, the ability to keep application-level thread- specific data in a per-thread block of memory addressed by an otherwise unused segment register.) To get things working (as well as they are), the lisp "shares" the segment register that the pthreads library uses to access thread data. This scheme isn't intended to be long-lived (and negatively affects performance of things like foreign-function calls, callbacks, and exception handling).

  • The .cdb files (libc only for Tiger) in ccl:darwin-x86-headers64; were cross-developed on a Linux x86-64 system, since Apple has not yet released the sources to their x86-64 enabled gcc.
  • On all platforms, stream code has been rewritten and often offers better (sometimes substantially better) performance. OPEN and MAKE-SOCKET have each been extended to take additional keyword arguments.

:SHARING, which can have the values :PRIVATE (the default), :LOCK, or :EXTERNAL (NIL is also accepted as synonym for :EXTERNAL)

:PRIVATE specifies that the stream can only be accessed by the thread that created it. (There was some discussion on openmcl-devel about the idea of "transferring ownership" of a stream; this has not yet been implemented.) Attempts to do I/O on a stream with :PRIVATE sharing from a thread other than the stream's owner yield an error.

:LOCK specifies that all access to the stream require the calling thread to obtain a lock; there are separate "read" and "write" locks for IO streams (so it's possible for one thread to read from such a stream while another thread writes to it, for instance.) :LOCK was the implicit default for all streams prior to this change. (See below - under the discussion of the AUTO-FLUSH mechanism - for a discussion of one of the implications of this change that affects SLIME users.)

:EXTERNAL (or NIL) specifies that I/O primitives enforce no access protocol. This may be appropriate for some types of application which can control stream access via application-level protocols. Note that since even the act of reading from a stream changes its internal state (and simultaneous access from multiple threads can therefore lead to corruption of that state), some care must be taken in the design of such protocols.

The :BASIC keyword argument influences whether or not the stream will be an instance of the class FUNDAMENTAL-STREAM (the superclass from which all Gray stream classes inherit) or a subclass of the built-in class CCL::BASIC-STREAM. The default value of :BASIC is T and this has effect for FILE-STREAMs created via OPEN; SOCKETs are still always implemented as FUNDAMENTAL (Gray) streams, though this should change soon.

The tradeoff between FUNDAMENTAL and BASIC streams is entirely between flexibility and (potential or actual) performance. I/O primitives can recognize BASIC-STREAMs and exploit knowledge of implementation details; FUNDAMENTAL stream classes can be subclassed in a semi-standard way (the Gray streams protocol.)

For existing stream classes (FILE-STREAMs, SOCKETs, and the internal CCL::FD-STREAM classes used to implement file streams and sockets), a lot of code can be shared between the FUNDAMENTAL and BASIC implementations. The biggest difference should be that that code can be reached from I/O primitives like READ-CHAR without going through some steps that're there to support generality and extensibility, and skipping those steps when that support isn't needed can improve I/O performance.

Gray stream methods (STREAM-READ-CHAR) should work on appropriate BASIC-STREAMs. (There may still be cases where such methods are undefined; such cases should be considered bugs.) It is not guaranteed that Gray stream methods would ever be called by I/O primitives to read a character from a BASIC-STREAM (though there are still cases where this happens.)

A simple loop reading 2M characters from a text file runs about 10X faster when the file is opened the new defaults (:SHARING :PRIVATE :BASIC T) than it had before these changes were made. That sounds good, until one realizes that the "equivalent" C loop can be about 10X faster still ...

  • Forcing output to interactive streams.

OpenMCL has long had a (mostly undocumented) mechanism whereby a mostly idle thread wakes up a few (~3) times per second and calls FORCE-OUTPUT on specified OUTPUT-STREAMS; this helps to ensure that streams with which a user would be expected to interact (the output side of *TERMINAL-IO*, listener windows in a GUI, etc.) have all buffered output flushed without requiring application or I/O library code to be concerned about that.

The SLIME lisp interaction mode for Emacs uses this mechanism, but the changes described above interfere with SLIMEs use of it: in order to be safely accessed from multiple threads (the SLIME REPL thread and the thread which does the background periodic flushing of buffered output), a stream must have been created with :SHARING :LOCK in effect. This is no longer the effective default; the code which does the periodic output flushing ignores streams which do not use locks as an access/sharing mechanism. THIS MEANS THAT BUFFERRED OUTPUT TO SLIME REPLs WILL NOT BE AUTOMATICALLY FLUSHED TO THE SCREEN. A small change to SLIME's "swank-openmcl.lisp" is required to restore this functionality. First, a brief description of a couple of new primitives:


Adds "s", which should be a "simple" OUTPUT-STREAM as returned by OPEN or MAKE-SOCKET, to a list of streams whose buffered output should be periodically flushed. If S was not created with :SHARING :LOCK in effect, the stream will have its :SHARING mode changed to put :SHARING :LOCK into effect.


Removes S from the internal list of automatically flushed streams. Does not restore the stream's :SHARING mode, which may have been changed by a previous call to ADD-AUTO-FLUSH-STREAM.

  • SLIME changes In slime:swank-openmcl.lisp, around line 182, the method

(defmethod make-stream-interactive ((stream ccl:fundamental-output-stream))

(push stream ccl::*auto-flush-streams*))

should be changed to use CCL:ADD-AUTOFLUSH-STREAM if it's defined:

(defmethod make-stream-interactive ((stream ccl:fundamental-output-stream))

(if (fboundp 'ccl::add-auto-flush-stream)

(ccl::add-auto-flush-stream stream) (push stream ccl::*auto-flush-streams*)))

That's adequate for the moment, since sockets are still FUNDAMENTAL-STREAMs. When that changes, some more extensive changes to swank-openmcl.lisp may become necessary.

  • on x86-64, floating-point-underflow exceptions are now enabled by default. (They really should be on ppc as well.) Again, this affects FP operations that are done in lisp code and the results of FP operations that are reported in response to calls to reasonable (non-Darwin) math libraries. This can affect whether or not some "potential number" reader tokens are representable as numbers, e.g., whether or not attempts to read something like "1.0f-50" signal underflow or are quietly mapped to 0.0f0.
  • examples: Phil (from the mailing list) has added code which supports some of the ffi examples from the documentation.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-060705

  • Bug fixes again. Some internal changes to support a FreeBSD/AMD64 port that's not quite ready.
  • :MCL is back on *features*; there seem to be too many packages out there that expect it to be, and there hasn't been enough advance notice of its pending removal.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-060623

  • Mostly bug fixes (a CLOS bug that prevented the ObjC bridge from working, FIXNUM arrays weren't quite finished on PPC)
  • Use Tiger inferfaces (from XCode 10.4u SDK) on DarwinPPC32
  • Add gl, gtk2, gnome2 interfaces for x86-64. Add a tiny "gtk2-clock" example, tweak the opengl-ffi (GLUT) example so that it works on x86-64.
  • Some changes to the ObjC bridge to support loading additional frameworks; update the WebKit? example to use these new features.
  • Still an outstanding issue where things like MAKE-OBJC-INSTANCE need access to the interfaces at runtime (and can crash if they aren't available.)
  • Build snapshots for LinuxPPC{32,64}.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-060608

  • The FASL version changed, as did the version number which pairs the lisp kernel with heap images. Images saved with older kernels can't be loaded on this one; the images/kernels in the 060608 snapshot tarballs should match.

Most of the ABI changes that caused these version changes were x86-64 specific; some auxiliary stack pointers that had been kept in MMX registers are now kept in per-thread memory. (Signal/ exception handlers generally need to be able to access these stack pointers, but at least some versions of the Linux kernel don't reliably pass correct values of the MMX registers in the signal contexts passed to signal handlers. Moral: some kinds of stack-allocation and foreign-function operations may (or may not) be a few cycles slower, but OpenMCL should be a bit less prone to fatal segfault exceptions.)

Other than that, most changes since the 060530 snapshots are bugfixes (see the ChangeLog? for details). The x86-64 port has been exercised fairly heavily (if somewhat narrowly) and its welcome banner now claims that it's a beta release. I think that that's probably fair, and hope that anyone who may have been reluctant to test an alpha release will agree and be less reluctant.

  • There's still much more to be done, but some preliminary 1.1 documentation is now online at:


Note that some relative links on "newsite" may be invalid, but the internal links in the Doc directory should work.

As noted above, it still needs a lot of work; feedback, criticism, and help would all be appreciated.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-060530

  • These release notes have gotten woefully out of date.
  • OpenMCL now runs on x86-64 (AMD64, Intel EM64T) systems under Linux. It announces itself as an alpha release in the Welcome banner; it should in fact be very nearly feature-complete (but possibly still buggy.) There's a chicken-and-egg issue in that it needs more testing before it can be formally released and some people may be waiting for a more stable version.

The build process and most user-visible things should behave the same way as on PPC; using REBUILD-CCL (described below) is generally the simplest way to rebuild from sources. A few (intentional) differences:

  • the lisp kernel is named "lx86cl64", the default heap image is named "LX86CL64" (e.g., the kernel name, case-inverted) and the bootstrapping image is conventionally named "x86-boot64".
  • FASL files have the extension "lx64fsl"
  • the kernel build directory is "ccl/lisp-kernel/linuxx8664"
  • the "openmcl64" shell script can be used to invoke the lisp, as on 64-bit PPC platforms.

Other changes tend to be a little more modest:

  • there is now a specialized FIXNUM array element type on all platforms. (distinct from T or (SIGNED-BYTE <machine-word-size>)). Access to such vectors is a little cheaper than the SIGNED-BYTE case (since elements are known to be fixnums) and a little easier on the GC than the T case (the GC can avoid looking at their contents and there are no associated EGC write-barrier issues.)
  • "colon" commands entered into the REPL/break loops don't need to be parenthesized if the command and all operands are on the same line. E.g.

1> :f 0


1> (:f 0)

are equivalent (and have the effect of examining the raw contents of the 0th stack frame)

  • the syntax of the :B (backtrace) break-loop has changed; rather than taking an optional argument which specifies whether or not frame details should be shown, it now accepts keyword arguments for specifying:

:start ; unsigned integer: the index of the first frame to show :count ; unsigned integer: the maximum number of frames to show :detailed-p ; boolean: whether or not to show frame detail

  • a new break-loop command :NFRAMES returns the number of stack frames accessible to backtrace. (Both this change and the previous are intended to help deal with deep recursion/stack overflow cases.)
  • any command-line arguments that follow a "--" pseudo-argument are not processed by the lisp startup code and are stored (as a list of strings) in CCL:*UNPROCESSED-COMMAND-LINE-ARGUMENTS*. E.g.:

shell> openmcl -- -foo 17 [...] ? ccl:*UNPROCESSED-COMMAND-LINE-ARGUMENTS* => ("-foo" "17")

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-060226

  • The --thread-stack-size (or -Z) command-line argument changes the values of the variables used to determine the sizes of the listener thread. The values of these variables will persist accross SAVE-APPLICATION; these values have no effect on the sizes of stacks in threads created under explicit user control.
  • New functions:

(CCL:GC-VERBOSE on-full-gc &optional (on-egc on-full-gc))

Causes the GC to print (or stop printing ...) informational messages on entry and exit. The ON-FULL-GC argument controls whether or not these messages are printed on ... a full GC, and the ON-EGC argument (which defaults to the value of the ON-FULL-GC argument) controls whether messages are printed on ephemeral GCs.


Returns two values (corresponding to the arguments of the last call to CCL:GC-VERBOSE.)



Depending on the values of its arguments, recompiles lisp and/or kernel sources and optionallly re-generates ("reloads") a heap image.


clean deletes FASL and .o files before performing other steps kernel rebuilds the lisp kernel force forces recompilation, even if binary is newer than source reload tries to rebuild a full heap image after other build steps exit quits after all other steps full equivalent to :CLEAN T :KERNEL T :RELOAD T reload-arguments a list of strings, passed as additional arguments

to the reload step. E.g. '("--thread-stack-size" "128M").

Output from the :KERNEL and :RELOAD steps is ordinarily only displayed if an error occurs.

  • Changes

TRACE now prints an integer (corresponding to the level of indentation) on each line of output.

Tracing callbacks is currently broken (it may be reimplemented; if so, it'd be implemented somewhat differently ...)

  • Bugs

Several bugs involving interactions between the GC and (many) active threads have been fixed; at least one such bug remains (the symptom involves a recently allocated array somehow getting trashed or GCed incorrectly; the cause has been under investigation for weeks but is still not known.)

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-060125

  • FASL version changed; delete old FASL (.dfsl, .pfsl, .dfsl64, .pfsl64) files

  • "kernel ABI version" changed; build a new lisp kernel before trying to load/use

060125 images.

New variable:


Initialized on application startup to contain the MMU/OS page size in bytes. This is 4K on PPC platforms (and likely on most? all? x86 platforms).

New functions:


Returns an integer, the value of which is used by the lisp kernel when mapping heap memory from the OS. Mapping requests are usually made in multiples of this value.

This value is read-only; currently, it's 64KB on 32-bit platforms and 128KB on 64-bit platforms.


Returns the (per-thread) allocation quantum of the process P. By default, this is the same value as that returned by CCL:DEFAULT-ALLOCATION-QUANTUM, but lower values can be specified on a per-process basis (see below.)

This value is read-only.


Equivalent to (CCL:PROCESS-ALLOCATION-QUANTUM *CURRENT-PROCESS*), but can be used with SETF to change the current processes's allocation quantum to a value which is between *HOST-PAGE-SIZE* and (DEFAULT-ALLOCATION-QUANTUM), inclusive, and which is a power of 2.

Changes to existing functions:

Both PROCESS-RUN-FUNCTION and MAKE-PROCESS accept an :ALLOCATION-QUANTUM &key argument, which defaults to the value returned by (DEFAULT-ALLOCATION-QUANTUM). If provided, the value of the argument should should satisfy the same constraints that (SETF (CURRENT-PROCESS-ALLOCATION-QUANTUM) is subject to.


In general, larger per-thread allocation quanta are appropriate for programs where a relatively small number of threads need to allocate memory frequently and small per-thread quanta are appropriate for larger numbers of threads that are expected to do small, infrequent memory allocations.

The worst-case scenarios would involve a large number of threads doing incidental memory allocation with large quanta (that wastes memory and may trigger the GC too frequently) or a small number of threads doing frequent memory allocation with small quanta (since such threads could be expected to fill up their small per-thread memory allocations quickly and frequently and would waste time frequently allocating more small chunks.)

All of these values interact with the GC and EGC thresholds; the ability to exercise some control over how much per-threads memory is allocated at a time can help to ensure that those interactions are appropriate. When these mechanisms are insufficient, applications should consider the use of available mechanisms for adjusting GC and EGC thresholds.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-051027

  • A lot of internal changes in the way that special bindings, UNWIND-PROTECT, and WITHOUT-INTERRUPTS are implemented (and in how they interact with each other.

One user-visible aspect of this is that UNWIND-PROTECT cleanup forms are run with interrupts disabled (the protected form is run with interrupts enabled if they were enabled on entry to the UNWIND-PROTECT.) This means that something like:




will loop uninterruptibly.

  • CCL:WITH-INTERRUPTS-ENABLED &body body executes the body with interrupts enabled. The example above could be rewritten as:



(with-interrupts-enabled (loop)))

and the loop would be interruptible.

These changes introduce binary incompatibility (the FASL version changed, as did an internal version number that tries to keep the kernel and heap image in synch.)

Things basically work, but there may be lingering bugs (e.g., as of a little while ago, QUIT didn't work because the initial process was running with interrupts disabled.)

  • PROCESS-TERMINATION-SEMAPHORE MAKE-PROCESS and PROCESS-RUN-FUNCTION accept a :TERMINATION-SEMAPHORE argument; processes have a PROCESS-TERMINATION-SEMAPHORE accessor method. If the argument is specified and non-null, its value should of type SEMAPHORE.

If a process dies by any means after it's been successfully enabled and it has a non-null termination semaphore "at the time of its death", that semaphore will be signaled just before the underlying OS thread is destroyed.

SETF can be used with PROCESS-TERMINATION-SEMAPHORE to change or clear a the termination semaphore of a process. If the target process is not the current process when this happens, it's possible that the process could die before the SETF takes effect; this possibility must be addressed at the application level (i.e., the implementation doesn't try to synchronize the calling thread and the target in any way.

A simple example:

(let* ((s (make-semaphore)))

(process-run-function `(:name "sleepy" :termination-semaphore ,s)

#'(lambda () (sleep 10)))

(wait-on-semaphore s))

The calling thread will wait for (roughly) 10 seconds (until the "sleepy" thread has had its nap and signals its termination semaphore.)

  • A change that was introduced prior to 0.14.3 led to strange, usually fatal crashes (usually an unhandled bus error, occasionally a cryptic "can't find active area" message and a trip to the kernel debugger) under Darwin. This was caused by an attempt to use certain Mach primitives to suspend and resume threads (the way that those primitives were used, Mach exception messages were sometimes sent twice if the first send was interrupted, and the second send occurred after the exception had already been handled (because the first send was recieved but not replied to ...)

1.0 backed out of this change, and used signal handling primitives (instead of Mach primitives) to suspend and resume threads. I -think- that I understand the issue with the Mach primitives (#_thread_abort_safely isn't necessary and caused the duplicate exception messages to be sent) and have tried to revert to using the Mach thread suspension mechanisms. (If unhandled bus errors - that exit to the shell - or cryptic "can't find active area" messages reappear, this experiment will be shown to be a failure.)

There are some obscure but good reasons for favoring the Mach primiitves, so it'd be good to know if the problem with using them has indeed been identified.

(The test case involves bad luck and bad timing: two or more threads having pending exceptions at the same time and the thread whose exception is handled first tries to suspend the others, typically on behalf of the GC. It was possible to run stress tests for many hours in 0.14.3 without encountering the bug, and possible to encounter it under seemingly light loads.)

  • INCF and DECF argument order and fixnum arithmetic.

Bryan fixed some ANSI test failures related to the order in which INCF and DECF evaluate their args. (One example is:

(let* ((x 3))

(incf x (setq x 5)))

where the correct answer is 10, not 8.) We both found that fixing some cases involving INCF caused some OpenMCL code to compile incorrectly and were nervous about introducing these changes fairly late in the development cycle, so we backed out of them prior to the 1.0 code freeze.

The reasons for the miscompiled code have to do with how the compiler interprets fixnum declarations under typical optimization settings. If A and B are both declared to be FIXNUMS, then the expression

(setq a (+ a b))

will usually compile to a simple ADD instruction (with no overflow checking); if A and B are fixnums, the result will be a fixnum, though if an undetected overflow occurred in the addition, the result might be missing a significant bit.

There was code in OpenMCL that assumed that

(incf a b)

was exactly the same as

(setq a (+ a b))

and in fact that was true under the old (incorrect) definition of INCF. The new definition introduced some temporary bindings:

(let* ((...)

(#:temp (+ a b)) (...))

(setq a #:temp))

In this case, the addition was allowed to generate an overflow (no type declaration on #:temp), and the SETQ quietly violated a type declaration (assigning a non-FIXNUM value to A), leading to further problems.

So far, I found a couple of cases of this in the OpenMCL sources. (FWIW, both functions were originally transliterated from C code and were trying to mimic C's silent overflow behavior.)

Moral: if you have code that assumes that INCF or DECF expand into simple assignments and are trying to exploit the ways that those assignments interact with type declarations, you may want to review those assumptions. If you write code that has side effects in the DELTA arguments of INCF or DECF rorms, you'll (hopefully) be pleased to see that Bryan's changes allow these side-effects to be handled correctly (at the right time.) If you don't fall into either of these categories, you probably won't notice any difference ...

  • 64-bit Linux support

There's a 64-bit LinuxPPC heap image and some rudimentary (libc-only) 64-bit Linux interfaces in the testing directory.

(Unlike 64-bit Darwin, 64-bit Linux distributions typically provide 64-bit versions of "all" standard libraries; I haven't gotten around to building 64-bit gnome/gtk/X11/... interfaces yet, but wouldn't expect there to be a problem.)

The 64-bit Linux OpenMCL seems to basically work, but ... OpenMCL likes to map its kernel into low addresses (around #x5000); this allows compiled lisp code to use conditional branches to "short" (16-bit) absolute addresses. Newer Linux kernels provide a "vdso" shared library that's intended to simply communication between the OS kernel and userspace libraries and programs; when a program is mapped at "non-standard" addresses, the vdso gets mapped at address 0.

I don't fully understand the imlications of this (beyond the fact that indirecting through a NULL pointer will access bits and pieces of the vdso instead of segfaulting.) As far as I know, this is seen as a minor bug in the Linux kernel, and I -think- that I've seen kernel ChangeLog? entries that indicate that the problem's been fixed in the relatively recent past (and will likely start to make it into Linux distributions in the near future.)

That said - and seeing a library at address 0 certainly makes me a little nervous - the LinuxPPC64 port seems to work at least as well as the DarwinPPC64 port does (i.e., there may be word-size or other bugs lurking around or hiding in plain sight, but it's not usually easy to encounter them.)

  • As documented (and as hasn't been true in a long time), EOF from *STANDARD-INPUT* terminates the REPL when the --batch argument is in effect (even if *STANDARD-INPUT* is a tty.)
  • QUIT does a FRESH-LINE on and FORCE-OUTPUT to the standard output stream (people had reported that output wasn't always flushed when --batch or --eval was used; 1.0 was better about this than previous versions were, but it still wasn't reliable.)

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-051028 I had been doing development on G5s, and hadn't noticed that the 32-bit lisp had been using a 64-bit instruction. (I'm a little confused about how that could have worked; perhaps the 64-bit instruction gets emulated by the OS, or perhaps my model of whether 64-bit instructions can be executed in 32-bit mode is simply incorrect.)

In any case, the 32-bit images produced yesterday don't run on G4s (or presumably G3s or older systems.) Ooops. New images.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-051029

A function used by both SET-USER-ENVIRONMENT

and SET-DEVELOPMENT-ENVIRONMENT wasn't properly changing saved bindings of *PACKAGE*; the last few 1.1-pre releases have come up in the CCL package, as a result. Ooops again; new images, again.

OpenMCL 1.1-pre-051204 Not a lot of user-visible changes, but the changes that're there are a little hard to bootstrap. Note that new kernel build directories (darwinppc, darwinppc64, linuxppc, linuxppc64, ...) repace the old versions that don't have "ppc" in their names. CVS may not prune the old directories, especially if they contain files (.o, random junk).