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1.1. Quick start
1.2. Finding ancillary files
1.3. Anatomy of SBCL
2.1. Quick start
2.2. Customizing SBCL
2.3. Troubleshooting
2.4. Tracking SBCL sources
2.5. Supported platforms
1.1. Quick start:
The following command installs SBCL and related documentation under
the "/usr/local" directory:
# INSTALL_ROOT=/usr/local sh
You can also install SBCL as a user, under your home directory:
$ INSTALL_ROOT=/home/me sh
In other words, "" installs SBCL under the directory named
by the environment variable "INSTALL_ROOT".
If you install SBCL from binary distribution in other location than
"/usr/local", see section 1.2, "Finding ancillary files".
1.2. Finding ancillary files
The SBCL runtime needs to be able to find the ancillary files
associated with it: the "sbcl.core" file, and the contrib modules.
Finding core can happen in three ways:
1. By default, in a location configured when the system was built.
For binary distributions this is in "/usr/local/lib/sbcl".
2. By environment variable, in the directory named by the
environment variable "SBCL_HOME". Example:
$ export SBCL_HOME=/foo/bar/lib/sbcl
$ sbcl
If your "INSTALL_ROOT" was FOO, then your "SBCL_HOME" is
3. By command line option:
$ sbcl --core /foo/bar/sbcl.core
The usual, recommended approach is method #1. Method #2 is useful if
you're installing SBCL on a system in a non-standard location
(e.g. in your user account), instead of installing SBCL on an entire
system. Method #3 is mostly useful for testing or other special
Contributed modules are primarily looked for in "SBCL_HOME", or the
directory the core resides in if "SBCL_HOME" is not set.
ASDF:*CENTRAL-REGISTRY* serves as an additional fallback for
ASDF-based modules.
1.3. Anatomy of SBCL
The two files that SBCL needs to run, at minimum, are:
In addition, there are a number of modules that extend the basic
sbcl functionality, in
The "src/runtime/sbcl" is a standard executable, built by compiling
and linking an ordinary C program. It provides the runtime
environment for the running Lisp image, but it doesn't know much
about high-level Lisp stuff (like symbols and printing and objects)
so it's pretty useless by itself. The "output/sbcl.core" is a dump
file written in a special SBCL format which only sbcl understands,
and it contains all the high-level Lisp stuff.
The standard installation procedure, outlined in section 1.1 "Quick
start", is to run the "", which copies all the files to
right places, including documentation and contrib-modules that have
passed their tests. If you need to install by hand, see ""
for details.
Documentation consists of a man-page, the SBCL Manual (in info, pdf
and html formats), and a few additional text files.
2.1. Quick start
To build SBCL you need a working toolchain and a Common Lisp system
(see section 2.5 "Supported platforms"). You also need approximately
128 Mb of free RAM+swap.
To build SBCL using an already installed SBCL:
$ sh
If you don't already have an SBCL binary installed as "sbcl" on your
system, you'll need to tell what Lisp to use as the
cross-compilation host. For example, to use CMUCL (assuming has
been installed under its default name "lisp") as the
cross-compilation host:
$ sh 'lisp -batch -noinit'
The build may take a long time, especially on older hardware. A
successful build ends with a message beginning: "The build seems to
have finished successfully...".
To run the regression tests:
$ cd tests && sh
To build documentation:
$ cd doc/manual && make
This builds the Info, HTML and PDF documentation from the Texinfo
sources. The manual includes documentation string from the build
SBCL, but if SBCL itself has not been yet built, but one if found
installed documentation strings from the installed version are used.
Now you should have the same src/runtime/sbcl and output/sbcl.core
files that come with the binary distribution, and you can install
them as described in the section 1. "BINARY DISTRIBUTION".
2.2. Customizing SBCL
You can tweak the *FEATURES* set for the resulting Lisp system,
enabling or disabling features like documentation strings, threads,
or extra debugging code.
The preferred way to do this is by creating a file
"customize-target-features.lisp", containing a lambda expression
which is applied to the default *FEATURES* set and which returns the
new *FEATURES* set, e.g.
(lambda (features)
(flet ((enable (x)
(pushnew x features))
(disable (x)
(setf features (remove x features))))
;; Threading support, available on x86/x86-64 Linux only.
(enable :sb-thread)))
This is the preferred way because it lets local changes interact
cleanly with CVS changes to the main, global source tree.
A catalog of available features and their meaning can be found in
2.3. Troubleshooting
"GNU Make not found"
If the GNU make command is not available under the names "make",
"gmake", or "gnumake", then define the environment variable
GNUMAKE to a name where it can be found.
Segfaults on Fedora
Try disabling exec-shield. The easiest way is to use
setarch: "setarch i386 -R sbcl".
Build crashes mysteriously, machine becomes unstable, etc
You may be running out of memory. Try increasing swap, or
building SBCL with fewer other programs running simultaneously.
* Check that the host lisp you're building with is known to work as
an SBCL build host, and that your operating system is supported.
* Try to do a build without loading any initialization files
for the cross-compilation host (for example
"sh 'sbcl --userinit /dev/null --sysinit /dev/null'").
* Some GCC versions are known to have bugs that affect SBCL
compilation: if the error you're encountering seems related to
files under "src/runtime", down- or upgrading GCC may help.
* Ask for help on the mailing lists referenced from
2.4. Tracking SBCL sources
If you want to be on the bleeding edge, you can update your sources
to the latest development snapshot (or any previous development
snapshot, for that matter) by using anonymous CVS to
SourceForge. (This is not recommended if you're just using SBCL as a
tool for other work, but if you're interested in working on SBCL
itself, it's a good idea.) Follow the "CVS Repository" link on
<> for instructions.
2.5. Supported platforms
Last updated for SBCL (2005-08-20).
All of the following platforms are supported in the sense of "should
work", but some things like loading foreign object files may lag
behind on less-used operating systems.
Supported toolchains:
GNU toolchain
Sun toolchain with GCC
Supported build hosts are:
CLISP (recent versions only)
ABCL (recent versions only)
Note that every release isn't tested with every possible host
compiler. You're most likely to get a clean build with SBCL itself
as host, otherwise OpenMCL on a PPC and CMUCL elsewhere.
Supported operating systems and architectures:
x86 PPC Alpha Sparc HPPA MIPS MIPSel x86-64
Linux 2.2, 2.4, 2.6 X X X X X X X X
OpenBSD 3.4, 3.5 X
Solaris X X
Tru64 X
Darwin (Mac OS X) X
Some operating systems are more equal than others: most of the
development and testing is done on x86 Linux and *BSD, PPC Linux
and Mac OS X.
If an underprivileged platform is important to you, you can help
by e.g. testing during the monthly freeze periods, and most
importantly by reporting any problems.
If you need support beyond what is available on the mailing lists,
see "Consultants" in the "SUPPORT" file.
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