Hi SBCL hackers,

I have downloaded the SBCL source a few times in an attempt to get familiar with the code so that eventually I can port SBCL to new architectures or make optimizations.  Unfortunately, every time I download the source I have a hard time getting going and eventually give up.  I am writing for tips about getting started hacking on SBCL.

This is a pretty general inquiry so I will give some questions that might yield helpful responses:
* How did you get started hacking SBCL?
* Can I avoid knowing much about the bootstrapping process and still learn a lot about how the compiler works.  For example, how (+ 1 2) is compiled into assembly?
* Was the Internals wiki helpful for first-timers?  for me it gives a high-level understanding of what SBCL is up to, but it doesn't teach me function names or what files to seek out.
* Are there good pet projects for beginners to work on?
* Does most development happen through the REPL on an active SBCL instance?  I can imagine there is a lot of restarting for some types of work.
* What's the best way you have found to search the mailing list to avoid repeating questions?

Some of these questions may be dumb, so appologies galor.  It just seems like it will be fun to play around with SBCL every once in a while, but I don't know how to get started with this massive piece of code.

Also there are some random questions I have about SBCL that have popped into my mind every now and again:

* How ugly is the source compared to OpenMCL, a fast Scheme implementation, a commercial lisp implementation, and GCC?
* Has anyone attempted to port to Java bytecode or some other unconventional assembly-like language?
* Are there portions of the compilation process that are currently obviously suitable for optimization via machine learning algorithms?  I do not mean really dreamy AI as in "hey computer, optimize my program for me," but more deciding which functions to inline or something.

Thanks for any answers.  I know there are more SBCL would-be hackers like me that will benefit greatly from this thread.