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Qi - Package Manager for Common Lisp

Qi is a package manager for Common Lisp.

The State of Qi

Qi is a new project. There are still bugs. There are still missing features. It might not work sometimes. It has not been tested on multiple Lisp implementations (only SBCL). Pull-requests, issues, feedback are appreciated.

View the HTML version of this documentation here.


Qi has a few Common Lisp dependencies, but they are all bundled with the repository to allow Qi to bootstrap itself (see qi/dependencies for a full list).


  1. Clone Qi anywhere:
    git clone
  2. Load Qi when SBCL starts by adding these lines to your .sbclrc:
    (load "path/to/qi")

To test if Qi is installed correctly, run the following the a REPL:

CL-USER> (qi:hello)

See docs/ and bin/ for some work that can/should be done around this part.


Using Qi for a project

This section covers using Qi for a single project.

The only requirement to installing a systems dependencies with Qi, is a qi.yaml.

The qi.yaml specifies a projects dependencies. For an example of what this looks like, checkout out Qi’s qi.yaml.

Two required pieces to the qi.yaml are name and packages. So a basic project would look like this:

name: my-project
  - name: zlib
    branch: import-1.1.1

  - name: clack

  - name: postmodern
    tag: v1.19

Above there are three types of packages: Manifest, tarball, and git.

  • Manifest: “Known” packages from the Qi manifest.
  • Tarball: An HTTP URL to tarball.
  • Git: A git repository.
  • Mercurial: A link to a mercurial repository.

For manifest and git packages, you can optionally specify a tag, revision, or branch.

With the above qi.yaml in your project, you can run the following to install and load the systems:

* (load "myproject.asd")
* (qi:install :myproject)

qi:install will also load the dependencies into the system for you, using ASDF. If you don’t want Qi as a runtime dependency of your application, you can alternatively add something like this to your .asd file:

   (:tree (:here ".dependencies/packages/"))))

In addition to qi:install, you can also install project dependencies from the command-line:

qi --install path/to/qi.yaml # the path is unnecessary if qi.yaml is in the working directory

Qi takes care of any transitive dependencies and will let you know of any that it could not install. In a case where Qi can not install some dependencies, add direct links to those packages in your qi.yaml.

Using Qi for global packages

You can also manage global packages with Qi. This is useful for downloading and install packages that you want to always have available. There’s a simple interface, and two commands are the most useful:


* (qi:install-global :cl-project)

Running install-global installs the package into the global package directory (share/qi/packages). The installed package is made available in the current session.


* (qi:up :cl-project)

Running up loads a package that’s in your global package directory and makes it available in the current session.


Qi’s API is composed of a few commands, documented below:


Prints some information about Qi to standard-output. If this prints, Qi is installed correctly.



Installs a system and it’s dependencies. All dependencies are installed local to the project’s .dependencies/ directory.

  • For any dependencies that are not already available, Qi will try to download them from the Manifest. If all else fails, it will print to standard-output what packages could not be installed.
(qi:install :system)

Install Global

Installs a system to the global package directory share/qi/packages. The system should be from the Manifest. The system is made available in the current session.

(qi:install-global :system &optional version)

To make a global system available at any time, you can use =(qi:up :system)=


Have ASDF load a system to be available in the current session.

(qi:up :system)

This is the equivalent of running =(asdf:load-system :system)=

Coming Soon

Not implemented (qi:new ...)

Generate a new project scaffold.

Not implemented (qi:setup ...)

Generate a qi.yaml for an existing project.

Not implemented (qi:publish ...)

Publish a new package to the Qi Manifest


The Qi Manifest is a list of known packages - which makes it easy to simply install packages by their name. Qi’s Manifest was initially seeded by Quicklisp’s projects which means that any project you can find in Quicklisp can be found in Qi.

Adding a package to the Qi Manifest

Any and all packages are welcome in the Qi Manifest. The only requirement is that it is a lisp project that is asdf-loadable.

To add a package to the manifest, submit a pull-request at, or send a patch file to

See docs/ for some work to be done in this area. Ideally, we have recipes/ that contains the information about each Qi package. That way a new recipe can be added and the Manifest can be updated.


The Qi CLI provides a few basic commands (more coming soon!). Make sure that bin is in your $PATH, or move bin/qi into your $PATH.

Run $ qi --help For info on the available commands:

λ qi -h
Qi - A simple, open, free package manager for Common Lisp.

Usage: qi [-h|--help] [-u|--upgrade] [-m|--update-manifest] [-i|--install] [Free-Args]

Available options:
  -h, --help               Print this help menu.
  -u, --upgrade            Upgrade Qi (pull the latest from git)
  -m, --update-manifest    Update the Qi manifest
  -i, --install            Install packages, named on the command-line or specified in qi.yaml
                             If named on the command-line, packages will be
                             installed globally into the Qi shared packages

                             If specified in a qi.yaml file, packages will be
                             installed into the local project's .dependencies



PRs and Issues are extremely welcomed and will likely all be merged or addressed. See the docs/ for a list of tasks that I’d like to see done. Make a PR or start a conversation if there’s anything you’d like to see.

If you can, add new tests to cover the changes you make! You can run tests locally with Roswell (run-prove) or with make t:

bin/qi -i prove
make t

With any PR, add your name to the Contributors section below.


  • Cody Reichert (
  • Nicolas Lamirault (@nlamirault)
  • Alex Dunn (@dunn)


Copyright (c) 2015 Cody Reichert (




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