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Common Lisp Docker Images for Development


Docker Hub:

See also: slime-docker


Common Lisp is a great language, but it can be a bit of a pain to get started with it, particularly if you are running Windows or OSX. And if you do get your favorite implementation installed and working, you then have to deal with installing foreign libraries to get your favorite packages from Quicklisp working. This project attempts to make the whole setup process easier, letting users get right into coding, by providing a series of Docker images.

These images are sufficient for a newbie to get coding and also form a good starting point for teams of Common Lisp developers that need to work in the exact same environment.

These images are not meant for packaging Common Lisp code for deployment. They are very heavy weight from their "batteries included" approach. Look for extensible, lightweight deployment images to be developed in the near future.


There are three tags defined in this repository, base, ql, and latest. ql and latest are the same image, built off base. There may be more tags defined in the future for versioning (i.e., monthly versions when a new Quicklisp release comes out).

Base Image

This image is based off Debian Buster. It contains only the bare necessities needed to run four Common Lisp implementations:

  • SBCL
  • CCL
  • ECL
  • ABCL

The entrypoint to the image is configured to automatically create and switch to a user named lisp when executing commands. The UID of the Lisp user is configured by the environment variable LISP_DEVEL_UID. It defaults to 0, but most people will probably want to set this to 1000 (or whatever their UID on their host machine is).

ASDF Integration

/usr/local/share/common-lisp/slime/ is added to ASDF's source registry, to allow for easy mounting of Slime/Swank


To get started experimenting with SBCL, you can run the following:

docker run --rm -it daewok/lisp-devel:base sbcl

But, it's pretty common that you'll want to actually, you know, work on code that isn't lost when the container goes down! To do that, simply mount your folder containing your code like so:

docker run --rm -it -v /path/to/local/code:/usr/local/share/common-lisp/source daewok/lisp-devel:base sbcl

Your code will even be discoverable by ASDF!

QL Image

OK, enough with the bare bones, how about an image you can do something with. The ql and latest tags point to an image that has Quicklisp installed, along with the foreign libraries necessary to compile every library currently in Quicklisp. As such, it is much larger than the base image.

Quicklisp is installed to the path /home/lisp/quicklisp.

This image behaves exactly the same as the base image, except that it loads Quicklisp on start, so simply run:

docker run --rm -it daewok/lisp-devel:latest sbcl

and start playing with Quicklisp!

Notes and Gotchas

  • Lisp is more fun when you're using Emacs and Slime to interact with it! See slime-docker for information on a library that makes setting that up easy!

  • Please open an issue if you find a package in Quicklisp that is missing a dependency in the ql image.

  • SBCL does its best to turn off Address Space Layout Randomization (ASLR) when it starts. However, Docker's default security profile (if seccomp is compiled in) prevents SBCL from doing this. If you are afraid this might be an issue (I haven't personally seen an issue yet, but it was presumably done for a reason) or you're just tired of seeing:


Couldn't re-execute SBCL with proper personality flags (/proc isn't mounted? setuid?)

Trying to continue anyway.

whenever you start SBCL, you can either use a more lax seccomp profile by adding --security-opt=seccomp=/path/to/docker-sbcl-seccomp.json to the run command (docker-sbcl-seccomp.json is found in the project's git repo). Or you can disable seccomp altogether (not recommended!) by adding --security-opt=seccomp=unconfined. I will make a good faith effort to keep docker-sbcl-seccomp.json up to date with Docker's defaults, but no guarantees are provided!


Docker images for Lisp development







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