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ASIA Manual


ASIA is ASDF2 Software Installation Assistant. Unlike its competitors, ASIA only installs a project itself without its dependencies. Dependency analysis is done by ASDF2.

ASIA is released under MIT License.

Download & Installation

The source code is at git:// It’s a regular ASDF loadable libraries, put it into any directory where ASDF can load it.

ASIA uses a project manifest database to download projects. There is an "official" version at git:// By default, it should be downloaded at $XDG_DATA_HOME/repo51/ or C:\repo51\.

Of cource, you can create you own version, See Configuration for details.

Basic Usage

ASIA:SYSDEF-ASIA-SEARCH is the bridge between ASDF & ASIA.

For example, if you want to install hunchentoot:

> (cl:pushnew 'asia:sysdef-asia-search asdf:*system-definition-search-functions*)
> (asdf:load-system :hunchentoot)

Then ASIA will install hunchentoot and all its dependencies. After all the projects installed, they are loaded by ASDF.

If you want to install hunchentoot without its dependencies, use:

> (asia:install-project :hunchentoot)

To delete hunchentoot, use:

> (asia:delete-project :hunchentoot)
This doesn’t delete dependencies.


ASIA will load the first file found by ASIA:

  1. $XDG_CONFIG_HOME/common-lisp/asia.lisp

  2. $XDG_CONFIG_DIRS/common-lisp/asia.lisp

  3. For Windows, %APPDATA%/common-lisp/config/asia.lisp

  4. $HOME/.config/common-lisp/asia.lisp

Typically, the content of the config file is:

(in-package :asia)
(pushnew 'sysdef-asia-search *system-definition-search-functions*)

Project Manifest Location

*PROJECT-MANIFEST* controls where the project manifest is. It must be a pathname. Default value is $XDG_DATA_HOME/repo51/ or ~/.local/share/repo51/ on *nix, and C:\repo51\ on Windows.

Source Location

*SOURCE-LOCATION* controls where the downloaded projects is. It must be a pathname or NIL (default). NIL means the subdirectory source in *PROJECT-MANIFEST*.

Function SOURCE-LOCATION returns the current location. Do not use this variable directly unless you’re binding it.

Temporary Directory

*TEMPORARY-DIRECTORY* is used to store temporary files such as the files downloaded by cURL. It must be a pathname. Default value is $TMPDIR or /tmp/ on *nix and C:\Temp\ on Windows.

FIXME: About the pathnames which have whitespace characters

Currently all the pathnames used in ASIA must not have whitespace characters. That means you can’t use directories like Documents and Settings.

It’s because of Clozure has a "feature" that changes filename to name\\.tar.gz. We have to put all the filenames without the quote character in RUN-SHELL-COMMAND, so that the shell command such as Bash can interpret name\\.tar.gz correctly.

Concepts in ASIA

Before we describe the project manifest database, we must introduce some concepts used in ASIA.


In ASIA, a project does not mean its code, but its meta information. A project should be installed into a directory whose name is project-name. A project usually has a system file project-name.asd in its top directory. Currently a project object in ASIA is just its name, all other info can be computed from it.

Project Name

A string or a symbol except NIL. If it’s a symbol, it represents the downcase form of its symbol-name.

Pathname Specifier

A portable form of pathname from ASDF. You can use pathname specifier to tell ASIA where the system pathname is. A pathname specifier must represent a relative pathname. The function PATHSPEC translates a pathname specifier to a pathname. See ASDF manual 5.3.4 for details.

Pathname Location Designator

A list DSL that indicates a pathname from ASDF. The function LOCATION translates a location designator to a pathname. See ASDF manual 7.4 & 8.3 for details.

How to create project manifest database

Although ASIA provides an official database called repo51, you can even use your own database.

The database is like a key-value filesystem database. For example, the url of a project is in the file projects/project-name/url in the directory *PROJECT-MANIFEST*; also, the project name of a system is in the file systems/system-name/project. You can easily get the absolute pathname using (MANIFEST-PATHNAME "projects" project-name "url").

Project Information

In most cases, the only file you must provide for a project is url. Its value is a url for VCS command or download tool, such as:

  • git://


ASIA handles the url according to the following patterns:


| /git(/|$)
| \.git/?$
| ^[a-z][a-z0-9+.-]*://git\.
| ^([^:/]+@)?git\..+:


| /svn(/|$)
| ^[a-z][a-z0-9+.-]*://svn\.


| ^[a-z][a-z0-9+.-]*://darcs\.
| ^([^:/]+@)?darcs\..+:





CVS url has two parts: cvsroot and module name. ASIA uses a special form like cvsroot#module. If module is omitted, the project name is used, and the sharpsign # is optional. That means, ASIA handles :pserver:cvsroot#module by using cvs -d :pserver:cvsroot co module, and handles :pserver:cvsroot by using cvs -d :pserver:cvsroot co project-name.

If ASIA cannot determine the backend, the url is considered as a local pathname.

System Information

Several projects have more than one system files, like cffi and postmodern. Some projects have a system file whose name is different from the project’s name, like cl-sqlite. Some projects have a system file which is not in the toplevel directory. We must let ASIA search asd files in a different way.

To specify the project name of a system, put the name into the file systems/system-name/project in the directory *PROJECT-MANIFEST*, e.g., put cffi into systems/cffi-grovel/project.

To specify the pathname of a system, put the pathname specifier into the file systems/system-name/pathname, e.g., if you want to use the uffi wrapper in cffi, put uffi-compat/uffi.asd into systems/uffi/pathname and put cffi into systems/uffi/project.

Ignoring Projects

Sometimes you want to manually install a project into another place. You can use the file projects/project-name/ignore to make ASIA ignore it. The content can be anything, even empty.

ASIA has ignored many internal projects coming with implementations, such as sb-posix. ASDF & ASIA are also ignored by default.

Advanced Usage

Custom Installer

Sometimes you need a custom installation method. You can use the file projects/project-name/installer.lisp. This file should contain a lambda expression. ASIA reads it as a list, then coerce it to a closure. All the symbols in the closure are in a temporary package which uses the package COMMON-LISP, ASDF and ASIA. When it’s being evaluated, *DEFAULT-PATHNAME-DEFAULTS* is bound to /database-dir/projects/project-name/.

ASIA tries to use installer.lisp first. If it doesn’t exist, then use url. If url doesn’t exist too, ASIA raises an error.

Quickly install using INSTALL-PROJECT

If you want to install a project from a different url and you don’t want to modify the url file temporarily, use the keyword parameter :URL of INSTALL-PROJECT. See the documentation of INSTALL-PROJECT.


Here is a list of all exported symbols from package ASIA, please see their documentations for details:

  • pathspec

  • location

  • *project-manifest*

  • *source-location*

  • *temporary-directory*

  • make-temp-pathname

  • manifest-pathname

  • source-location

  • project-name

  • project-directory

  • project-installed-p

  • install-project

  • delete-project

  • sysdef-asia-search

Support and mailing lists

If you have questions, bug reports, feature requests and patches, send your email to Please visit: