CLISP manual page


CLISP - ANSI Common Lisp compiler, debugger and interpreter.


clisp [ -h | --help ] [ --version ] [ --license ] [ -B lisplibdir ] [ -K linking-set ] [ -M memfile ] [ -m memsize ] [ -L language ] [ -N localedir ] [ -Edomain encoding ] [ -q | --quiet | --silent ] [ -w ] [ -I ] [ -ansi ] [ -traditional ] [ -p packagename ] [ -C ] [ -norc ] [ -i initfile ... ] [ -c [ -l ] lispfile [ -o outputfile ] ... ] [ -x expression ] [ lispfile [ argument ... ] ]


Invokes the Common Lisp interpreter and compiler. Invoked without arguments, executes a read-eval-print loop, in which expressions are in turn read from standard input, evaluated by the lisp interpreter, and their results output to standard output. Invoked with -c, compiles the specified lisp files to a bytecode that can be executed more efficiently.


-h, --help
Displays a help message on how to use clisp.

Displays the clisp version number, as given by the function call (lisp-implementation-version).

Displays a summary of the licensing information, the GNU GPL.

-B lisplibdir
Specifies the installation directory. This is the directory containing the linking sets and other data files. This option is normally not necessary, because the installation directory is already built-in in the clisp executable. Directory lisplibdir can be changed at run-time using the symbol-macro *lib-directory*.

Specifies the linking set to be run. This is a directory containing at least a main executable and an initial memory image. Possible values are base, full. The default is base.

-M memfile
Specifies the initial memory image. This must be a memory dump produced by the saveinitmem function. It may have been compressed using GNU gzip.

-m memsize
Sets the amount of memory clisp tries to grab on startup. The amount may be given as Default is 2 megabytes. The argument is constrained above 100 KB. -- This version of clisp is not likely to actually use the entire memsize since garbage collection will periodically reduce the amount of used memory. It is therefore common to specify 10 MB even if only 2 MB are going to be used.

-L language
Specifies the language clisp uses to communicate with the user. This may be english, deutsch, francais, espanol, dutch. Other languages may be specified through the environment variable LANG, provided the corresponding message catalog is installed. The language may be changed at run-time using the symbol macro *current-language*,

-N localedir
Specifies the base directory of locale files. clisp will search its message catalogs in localedir/language/LC_MESSAGES/ This directory may be changed at run-time using the symbol macro *current-language*,

-Edomain encoding
Specifies the encoding used for a given domain, overriding the default which depends on the environment variables LC_ALL, LC_CTYPE, LANG. domain can be
affecting *default-file-encoding*, or
affecting *pathname-encoding*, or
affecting *terminal-encoding*, or
affecting *foreign-encoding*, or
affecting *misc-encoding*.
Note that these values cannot be saved in a memory inage. You have to use the init file to set them on startup.

-q, --quiet, --silent
Quiet: clisp displays no banner at startup and no good-bye message when quitting.

Wait for a keypress after program termination.

Be ILISP friendly. ILISP is an alternative Emacs interface to Common Lisp systems. With this option, clisp interacts in a way that ILISP can deal with. Currently the only effect of this is that unnecessary prompts are not suppressed. Furthermore, the GNU readline library treats Tab as a normal self-inserting character.

ANSI CL compliant: comply with the ANSI CL specification even where CLISP has been traditionally different. It sets the symbol macro *ansi* to t. See "Maximum ANSI CL compliance", for details.

Traditional: reverses the residual effects of -ansi in the saved image.

-p packagename
At startup the value of the variable *package* will be set to the package named packagename. The default is the package which was active when the image was saved, normally USER.

Compile when loading: At startup the value of the variable *load-compiling* will be set to t. Code being loaded will then be compiled on the fly. This results in slower loading, but faster execution.

Normally clisp loads a user run control (RC) file on startup (this happens after the -C option is processed). The file loaded is ${HOME}/.clisprc.lisp or ${HOME}/.clisprc.fas, whichever is newest. This option, -norc, prevents loading of the RC file.

-i initfile ...
Specifies initialization files to be loaded at startup. These should be lisp files (source or compiled). Several -i options can be given; all the specified files will be loaded in order.

-c lispfile ...
Compiles the specified lispfiles to bytecode (*.fas). The compiled files can then be loaded instead of the sources to gain efficiency.

-o outputfile
Specifies the output file or directory for the compilation of the last specified lispfile.

A bytecode listing (*.lis) of the files being compiled will be produced. Useful only for debugging purposes. See the documentation of compile-file for details.

-x expressions
Executes a series of arbitrary expressions instead of a read-eval-print loop. The values of the expressions will be output to standard output. Due to the argument processing done by the shell, the expressions must be enclosed in double quotes, and double quotes and backslashes must be preceded by backslashes.

lispfile [ argument ... ]
Loads and executes a lispfile. There will be no read-eval-print loop. Before lispfile is loaded, the variable *args* will be bound to a list of strings, representing the arguments. The first line of lispfile may start with #!, thus permitting clisp to be used as a script interpreter. If lispfile is -, the standard input is used instead of a file. If lispfile is an empty string "", the rest of the arguments is still available in *args*, for parsing by the init-function of the current image. This option must be the last one. No RC file will be executed.


The language implemented mostly conforms to

ANSI Common Lisp standard X3.226-1994

available online as the

Common Lisp HyperSpec ("CLHS" for short)

which supersedes the earlier specifications

Guy L. Steele Jr.: Common Lisp - The Language. Digital Press. 2nd edition 1990, 1032 pages. ("CLtL2" for short)


Guy L. Steele Jr.: Common Lisp - The Language. Digital Press. 1st edition 1984, 465 pages. ("CLtL1" for short)


to get some on-line help.

(apropos name)
lists the symbols relating to name.

(exit) or (quit) or (bye)
to quit clisp.

EOF (Ctrl-D)
to leave the current read-eval-print loop.

arrow keys
for editing and viewing the input history.

Tab key
to complete the symbol's name you are just typing.


startup driver (a script or an executable)
main executable (runtime)

initial memory image

site-dependent configuration

lisp source

lisp code, compiled by clisp

lisp source library information, generated and used by the clisp compiler

C code, compiled from lisp source by clisp (for the FFI)


specifies the language clisp uses to communicate with the user. The value may be english, deutsch, francais and defaults to english. The -L option can be used to override this environment variable.

specifies the locale which determines the character set in use. The value can be of the form language or language_country or language_country.charset, where language is a two-letter ISO 639 language code (lower case), country is a two-letter ISO 3166 country code (upper case). charset is an optional character set specification, and needs normally not be given because the character set can be inferred from the language and country.

specifies the language clisp uses to communicate with the user, unless it is already specified through the environment variable CLISP_LANGUAGE or the -L option. It also specifies the locale determining the character set in use, unless already specified through the environment variable LC_CTYPE. The value may begin with a two-letter ISO 639 language code, for example en, de, fr.

are used for determining the value of the function user-homedir-pathname. (Unix implementation only.)

SHELL (Unix implementation only)
is used to find the interactive command interpreter called by (shell).

determines the screen size recognized by the pretty printer.

See also

impnotes.html, cmucl(1), emacs(1), xemacs(1).




Bruno Haible and Michael Stoll.

CLISP manual page
Bruno Haible <>

Last modified: 31 May 2001.