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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:

  To run SBCL without installing it, from the top of binary distribution

    $ sh

  The following command installs SBCL and related documentation under
  the "/usr/local" directory (typically run as root):

    # 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 INSTALL_ROOT is not specified, SBCL is installed into location
  configured at build-time: for official binary distributions under
  "/usr/local" directory.

  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

  To configure SBCL to install to a non-standard location, you can use
  the --prefix option:

    $ sh --prefix=/opt/mysbcl

  This also sets the default SBCL_HOME to prefix/lib/sbcl/ for the
  built binaries.

  To configure SBCL with a non-standard default dynamic-space size,
  use the --dynamic-space-size option:

    $ sh --dynamic-space-size=4Gb
    $ sh --dynamic-space-size=800Mb

  If mega- or gigabytes are not specified, the number is taken to be
  in megabytes. The standard default is 512Mb for 32-bit systems, and
  1Gb for 64-bit systems (with the exception of OpenBSD where 444Mb
  are used to fit under default ulimits.)

  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 --xc-host='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 using commandline arguments to

    --fancy                    Enables all supported feature enhancements.
    --with-<feature>           Enables a specific feature.
    --without-<feature>        Disables a specific feature.

  Some features of interest:

    :SB-THREAD (--with-sb-thread, --without-sb-thread)

      Native threads. Enabled by default on x86[-64] Linux only, also
      available on x86[-64] Max OS X, x86[-64] FreeBSD, x86 Solaris,
      and PPC Linux.

      NOTE: --fancy enables threads on all platforms where they can be
      built, even if they aren't 100% stable on that platform.

    :SB-CORE-COMPRESSION (--with-sb-core-compression)

      Adds zlib as a build-dependency, and makes SBCL able to save
      compressed cores. Not enabled by default.

    :SB-XREF-FOR-INTERNALS (--with-sb-xref-for-internals)

      XREF data for SBCL internals. Not enabled by default, increases
      core size by 5-6mb.

    :SB-UNICODE (--without-sb-unicode)

      Unicode support. Enabled by default. Disabling this feature
      limits characters to the 8-bit ISO-8859-1 set.

  A catalog of available features and their meaning can be found in

  Please do NOT edit base-target-features.lisp-expr in order to enable
  or disable build features.

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:

    CCL (formerly known as OpenMCL)
    ABCL (recent versions only)
    CLISP (only some versions: 2.44.1 is OK, 2.47 is not)

    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 CCL on a PPC and CMUCL elsewhere.

  Supported operating systems and architectures:

                           x86 x86-64 PPC Sparc Alpha MIPS MIPSel
    Linux 2.6               X     X    X    X     X     X     X
    Darwin (Mac OS X)       X     X    X
    Solaris                 X               X
    FreeBSD                 X     X
    NetBSD                  X          X
    OpenBSD 3.4, 3.5        X
    Windows                 X

    Some operating systems are more equal than others: most of the
    development and testing is done on x86/x86-64 Linux and x86/PPC
    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.

    For further support, see Getting Support and Reporting Bugs
    in the manual, or

    if you do not have the manual for some reason.