Lisp Machine operating system with complete source code leaked

The whole Reddit thread


mrbill 3 points 3 days ago*

I'm sad to see this happen.

I know it's been passed around privately between trusted individuals for a while now, but it hitting BitTorrent is just going to piss off the people left at Symbolics.

There were people working behind the scenes trying to get the Symbolics VLM stuff legitimately released in some way to the hobbyist community - and this is likely to throw a wrench into that effort.


yourapostasy 33 points 3 days ago*

Two years ago, I looked into Lisp and from there into Genera. I concluded that the odds of Genera ever making it out of cult platform status were slim to none, because what I read of what I could find through Google was that Dave Schmidt was completely unwilling to listen to any conversation about Genera other than license and maintenance purchase orders. Shrug. Best of luck to 'em, I say. I'm not in the least bit inclined to invest effort into building new production systems around such a closed platform. Sure the source code is available; but with an installed base likely numbering fewer than 10,000 WW that's only one tiny step better than writing my own Lisp dialect and building business-critical software around that (Arc notwithstanding; PG being PG, he can get away with doing that). We'd probably see a usable resurrection of the LMI K-Machine (as daunting and insane an undertaking that is), or something Genera-inspired arise out of Movitz before we ever see Genera available in a community-friendly form. The Genera lesson is the strongest one for me personally on the dangers of basing critical parts of my business on closed source software. It could be the most kick ass platform ever, but if the owners decide to take it in a technical or business direction I don't like, then I'm along for the ride whether I like it or not. I'll pass on that dysfunctional relationship, thanks.

Anyways, there's some pretty exciting and nifty activity happening around Erlang, Haskell, OCaml and friends these days. I'd hate to see something like Genera get lost to the mists of time, to only reappear in the future as some emulated curio for nostalgic kicks like folks preserve the Apple ][ or TRS-80 code bases these days. As advanced as Genera is however, it would take a Microsoft-sized cash hoard to fund further development to bring it to the point where it was relevant in today's production systems: support for Unicode, concurrency, web frameworks, web-related tech like synchronization, etc. So Genera is only a hobby curiosity for me, and practical work at the bleeding edge takes place on other platforms.

What were other people's experiences with looking into Genera? Is anyone setting out to create new production environments using Genera-based systems?

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mrbill 6 points 3 days ago

As far as I know, Genera is dead as a modern platform - its mostly of interest to Lisp hobbyists. What's wrong with any of the modern Common Lisp versions, dev environments (SLIME, etc) and web frameworks?

I dont think anyone has claimed that OG is adequate for today, just that it is/was a pretty spiffy product.

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sickofthisshit 3 points 1 day ago

Well, even SBCL depends pretty heavily on a non-Common Lisp Emacs to be useful, and therefore lacks a powerful well-integrated editor substrate to build on. Debuggers are not as good as Genera's. There is no good integrated solution to Lisp version control, packaging, and patch delivery. I think McCLIM is still a work very much in progress. I don't think anything matches the ability of Genera to be totally aware of every piece of code in the machine. I'm not sure, but I think Genera stream support is much more integrated with networking.

And my keyboards don't have both left and right Super and Hyper keys!

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logistix 5 points 2 days ago

They're running on windows and unix...

[Waiting to get modded into oblivion]

Anyway, see the whole Rob Pike presentation on systems research:

http://herpolhode.com/rob/utah2000.pdf

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sickofthisshit 9 points 3 days ago

To be fair to DKS, he is not the owner of Symbolics' property. He is pretty much an independent contractor who is handling folks who need refurbished hardware and hardware maintenance on existing systems.

He is not in a position to make decisions regarding Symbolics' intellectual property.

The person who could make such decisions, AFAIK, is Andrew Topping who passed away, leaving Symbolics assets tied up in probate.

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sjs 1 point 23 hours ago

Check out the only comment from dkschmidt. It shows good form on his part to just point people in the right direction instead of getting his panties in a bunch.

http://thepiratebay.org/tor/3769989/Symbolics_Open_Genera_2.0_for_Alpha_-_complete_package_with_Lisp

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mrbill 1 point 23 hours ago*

Already mentioned further down in the comments here. Cool, regardless.

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aim2free 8 points 3 days ago

mrbill says:

There were people working behind the scenes trying to get the Symbolics VLM stuff legitimately released in some way to the hobbyist community - and this is likely to throw a wrench into that effort.

For how long? Maybe a move like this is exactly what was needed to get it going (growing community). This VLM for linux sounds very interresting.

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mrbill 3 points 3 days ago*

At least the past couple of years - the last public mention of that I saw said "we're working on something for summer 2006".

As far as I know, it was legal and intellectual-property issues, not lack-of-coders.

From http://www.unlambda.com/cadr/cadr_faq.html:

"Symbolics today is owned by one person and is really just a maintaince group for old lisp machines. The sole owner recently passed away and all of the software is now in probate. A group of ex-symbolics people are working to free the software and get it released. We're hoping for something in the summer of 2006."

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kirghiz_light 19 points 3 days ago

it was legal and intellectual-property issues,

Ah yes, Symbolics, the company that was so badly managed that it succeeded in taking Lisp down with it. The Symbolics/Genera story is one of software second-to-none, with ridiculous troglodyte management and obsession with 'intellectual property', in the purely dog-in-a-manger sense.

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morty 4 points 3 days ago*

link? I love gossip.

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mrbill 7 points 2 days ago

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AI_winter#The_collapse_of_the_Lisp_machine_market_in_1987

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Symbolics#Endgame

H.P. Newquist's book "The Brain Makers" is a good overview and history of Symbolics, LMI, and the "AI Market" in the early 80s:

http://www.amazon.com/Brain-Makers-HP-Newquist/dp/0672304120

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asciilifeform 11 points 3 days ago

As I recall, the skeleton of Symbolics makes a living through maintenance contracts for ancient government-owned systems. The warez in question is unlikely to threaten this income.


mrbill 15 points 3 days ago*

They still sell OpenGenera - $5K/seat, or $999 with educational discount.

Their actual Lisp Machine hardware ranges from $675 to $3500.

Dave Schmidt sent me their price list when I was considering the purchase of a MacIvory board:

http://www.lispmachine.net/symbolics.txt (price list updated 8/15/07)

I ended up using mostly SBCL and SLIME on a Mac, but have an Alpha system running Tru64 that I use to play with OpenGenera occasionally.

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jimbokun 2 points 2 days ago

lemonodored?


cchooper 2 points 2 days ago

Fun fact: your comment is only 3 hours old and is already the number one link on Google for 'lemonodored'.

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bobcat 2 points 2 days ago

reddit has mighty googlejuice.

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asciilifeform 3 points 3 days ago

but have an Alpha system running Tru64

What made you decide to pony up the $5k? Or did you get to the leeched one before we did?

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jfs 2 points 2 days ago

hrrhrr trusted individuals, behind the scenes. what a disgusting attitude.

The more exposure I have to MIT, the farther I want to be away from the culture that has evolved there. The stench is overpowering.

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asciilifeform 0 points 1 day ago

Agreed about MIT.

However, the secrecy is understandable given that Symbolics once had notoriously sharp teeth (and even now could conceivably go RIAA on us.)

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zitterbewegung 10 points 3 days ago

Now all I need is an alpha...


speciousfool 3 points 3 days ago

This project will let you do similar things on x86 hardware:

http://labs.aezenix.com/lispm/index.php?title=VLM_On_Linux

And of course, these is always the world's most ubiquitous lisp machine, EMACS.

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asciilifeform 1 point 3 days ago

Were you able to get Linux VLM to work? It simply hangs on my machine, and under VMWare.

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speciousfool 1 point 3 days ago

I got hung up on having to set my clock before year 2000. However, I hear that SDF has a public access alpha system with OpenGenera working though:

http://lemonodor.com/archives/000775.html

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jaybee 1 point 2 days ago

I use sdf and have no access to lisp. I think ISLISP is available to MetaARPA users, which costs $36 p.a.

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sjs 1 point 3 days ago

By running sudo ./genera -w Genera-8-5.vlod I've gotten somewhere... no login yet though.

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sjs 1 point 3 days ago*

Do I have to change my network to use this? My router is 10.0.0.1 and my workstation is 10.0.0.2.

edit: I can get it to ask me for the date & time. It can't get the time from the network or calendar clock (whatever that is). Can anyone help out a curious guy with a format it'll accept? I've tried mm/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss and just mm/dd/yyyy ... with a date before 2000. I've also tried all sorts of combinations such as yyyymmddhhmm[ss], mmddyyyyhhmm, mmddhhmmyyyy, mm-dd-yy hh:mm, etc.

edit2: entering hhmmss mmddyyyy gets me "Hour specified twice." ... nearly any 2 strings of numbers get me that. argh.

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unknown_lamer 5 points 3 days ago*

The cold boot stuff is calling PARSE-UNIVERAL-TIME which is a very hairy function (see io1/timpar.lisp). The constant *TEST-CASES* has examples of the formats that it will accept. My favorites:

;; Leave these last in case server is down!
"my birthday" "the day before my birthday"
"1 hour before dlw's birthday"
"ED@MIT-MC's birthday"

I will now curse you heathens who got OpenGenera from this torrent. Some of us had to search on IRC for years (even with an educational discount paying the $1000 just to futz around occasionally with OpenGenera is painful)! I even got banned from #lisp in my quest ...

Returning to the topic at hand, a natural date like "April 1 1990" should suffice. I've had the OG ISO for a while, and I still can't get it to do more than cold boot with the x86-64 VLM (it dies with an arithmetic error when trying to set the calendar time).

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sjs 1 point 2 days ago*

Heh, "Cannot find user NOT LOGGED IN's birthday". It was worth a shot. :)

In any case, io1/timpar.lisp held the solution. Thanks for the pointer in the right direction, I really appreciate the help.

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bbklyn -1 points 3 days ago*

I believe the format should be

Monday August 13th 2007 1:20AM
=
081301202007

MMDDHHMMYYYY

Edit: Thats the basic linux command to set the time, i have no experience with Lisp so i cant really delve into that, but from whats stated its running on linux so the command to change or set the time is 'date MMDDHHMMYYY' and optional is seconds i believe thats 'date MMDDHHMMYYY.SS'

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sjs 0 points 3 days ago

Ah, I have changed my system time in Linux just in case, but I'm only confused about the date & time format in genera. Google isn't giving me much on this one.

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masterchef 1 point 1 day ago*

Go down to the docks, find a boat with a chain going down into the water, and pull it up.

Shouldn't take too long...

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bobcat 0 points 3 days ago

People are throwing them away every day. Just ask around.

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Saoshyant 6 points 3 days ago

Hey, HEEEEEY, does anyone have a spare Alpha system that has no use anymore for you? If so, send it to me, please.

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EsIeX3 1 point 3 days ago*

I'd like one too, better to give it to me than throw it away, pm me for details...

BTW QEmu has an alpha processor emulator, doesn't it?

EDIT: argh, yes it does but it's dev only code... i doubt it's stable enough

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unknown_lamer 0 points 3 days ago

And you'd still need Tru64.

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asciilifeform 1 point 3 days ago

$100 legit, if I recall (or bittorrent, if you dare, or the HD of that used Alpha you bought.)

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unknown_lamer 1 point 2 days ago

Tru enough (ok, so I'm going to Hell)

The idea of buying an Alpha running Tru64 instead of GNU/Linux dropped from my mind into a deep dark hole.

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bobcat 1 point 3 days ago

That may work. I've had people tell me, 'If you don't take one of these out of my car, I'm leaving all 10 of them on the curb.'

Someone hook this brutha up

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asciilifeform 2 points 3 days ago

ebay?

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sjs 0 points 3 days ago*

I can only find one, but I barely looked.
http://tinyurl.com/2e996u

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zitterbewegung 0 points 3 days ago

I guess I could do that.

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asciilifeform 4 points 1 day ago

Seems like D. K. Schmidt, possibly the last man aboard the Symbolics ship, commented on the torrent!


mrbill 2 points 1 day ago

Now that is amusing. Might as well turn it into a sales opportunity! DKS deserves all the profit he can make - I think it's pretty much a one-man operation now.

I wonder if any progress has been made with regards to the rights to everything being tied up in probate since Topping's death?

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medavidson 3 points 17 hours ago

Agreed... bought a 36xx machine from him a few years ago. Nice guy and very pleasant to deal with. He even remembered me when he was going to be driving through my town and offered me a complete set of Genera manuals for my machine (at a very reasonable price).

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sickofthisshit 2 points 1 day ago

I laughed out loud when I read his quote. What a salesman!

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newbill123 31 points 3 days ago*

( (Wow (This is big news) ) Shout it from the outermost parentheses! )


mr_luc 3 points 2 days ago

I don't like seeing stuff that is all ((x (x)) x), or worse, (((x) x) x) it's unsettling. It always makes me breathe easier to see something that works out more like (x (x (x))).

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sabetts 27 points 3 days ago

It's bad luck to make jokes about parens.

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atomicthumbs -3 points 3 days ago

unless they have gnomes in them

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GotMex 2 points 3 days ago

So what the hell is this?


notany 16 points 3 days ago

Oh, man. Where can I start?

It is:

  1. important piece of history,
  2. indicator of what future looks alike,
  3. work of great talents.

I don't intend to use that code any way. I just want to look and learn and satisfy my curiosity.

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Athas 5 points 2 days ago*

Kind of an anticlimax. To a modern Lisp programmer, much of the Genera code is pretty ugly and old-fashioned.

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GotMex 13 points 3 days ago

"Symbolics.com, owned by the aforementioned corporation is largely regarded as the first registered domain of the modern internet."
That's actually pretty cool.

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morner 5 points 3 days ago

There's a list of the oldest still-functioning domains kicking around somewhere, I've lost the link though. It's interesting reading.

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Yst 4 points 3 days ago*

Here it is, and though it isn't particularly current, this matters little for the purpose of the list.

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jfs 1 point 2 days ago

Has anyone figured out how Tru64 licensing works? What I've found so far:

(1) a Base'' license is included with each Alpha system, but if you have a used Alpha that's become dissociated from itsBase'' license, HP wants you to buy another. (2) Licenses have model numbers like QL-MT4AE-67 that are specific to the model of Alpha on which it's running. (3) you have to buy extra licenses for all sorts of garbage, like having an unlimited number of users logged in, having more than one CPU, or functioning as a server.'' It sounds like a real load of garbage. (4) Thedeveloper and enthusiast'' noncommercial license is gone.

Here is what I don't know: (1) what are the licenses? CD-ROM's? numbers? forms that you FAX to HP and then are turned into numbers? fancy-looking sheets of paper that provide legal proof of license but have nothing to do with operating the machine? (2) what license is appropriate for my XP1000, where do I get it, and how much does it cost? It is all this have a salesman contact you'' brain damage, so they can quote a different price to each customer, but in my experience the price they'll quote to me ishahaha we won't bother to return your calls because I won't get enough commission from you to justify my time.'' I don't know if it's even possible, in reality, to buy a single license without being extremely pushy and having insider knowledge. (3) are licenses specific to the version of Tru64, or can I use any media kit with any license?

http://h21007.www2.hp.com/portal/site/dspp/menuitem.863c3e4cbcdc3f3515b49c108973a801/?ciid=2508713ba4f02110713ba4f02110275d6e10RCRD

I've used Alphas since 1999, but always used NetBSD on them. Now that I see what Tru64 is like, thank god I never had to deal with it before.


asciilifeform 2 points 2 days ago

If you're going to run pirated Genera, why not leech Tru64 and its serial? Do you have more love for HP than for Symbolics?

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jfs 4 points 1 day ago

I guess those are two separate questions. Why not? why not indeed---but I'm not sure how to leech it, since I don't understand how Tru64 licenses work hence the question! Do you have an answer, or are you just being contrary?

To review, I don't even know what the so-called licenses are. Are you saying you've seen them, and that Tru64 licenses are simply serial numbers? What does the serial number have to match, the model of your alpha? the version of Tru64? the serial number of the Alpha? nothing at all? "Why not" doesn't get the job done.

Do I have more love for HP than Symbolics? Maybe. HP is mostly just thoroughly mediocre, while Symbolics's almost unfathomable arrogance killed an entire platform and wasted generations of minds. Their attitude was more than our culture can afford, and I feel very strongly that they should not be praised for it just because the quality of their work was by some metrics exceptional.

I feel about the same way about Symbolics as Linux zealots feel when some technomidget says "oh computer geek huh. Are you gonna be the next Bill Gates? Whatever else you say about him, you have to respect him, because he's the richest man in the world." in other words, sickened and offended.

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asciilifeform 1 point 1 day ago*

Good points, regarding Symbolics.

The licenses do appear to be simply serial numbers, not linked to a particular machine. They match the version of Tru64 you have. More specifically, a license key randomly pulled off eMule seems to work with an aging Alphastation I found.

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newton_dave 18 points 3 days ago

OpenGenera and hot babe linkage on one page; I'm all in a tizzy.


jimbokun 4 points 2 days ago

And the girls live right in my area! Amazing!

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newton_dave 3 points 2 days ago

No kidding; you must be from where I am.

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paulwhit 9 points 3 days ago

It has open in the name, so they must've wanted it to be free!


mnu 5 points 3 days ago

I've never understood why libraries/software name themselves "open" when they, you know... aren't. Like, you know, OpenGL.

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rahul 16 points 3 days ago

Off on a tangent: What's not open about OpenGL? It's a public API specification. You are free to implement it if you please.

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leoc 12 points 3 days ago

Actually getting your implementation certified is or was another matter, if I recall correctly.

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masklinn 5 points 3 days ago

That's a completely different issue. It's completely free to implement OpenGL (I don't know if the full spec is free though), having your implementation certified to be able to use the OpenGL™ trademark isn't because , well, it's SGI's trademark and an important name.

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mnu 2 points 3 days ago

OOOOhhh. I'd always considered it to be like open source. That makes a lot more sense, actually.

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harsman 6 points 3 days ago

The specs are open but the name "OpenGL" is trademarked so you can't claim to have an OpenGL implementation unless you have a license from sgi.

This was done to keep buggy low quality implementations tarnishing the OpenGL name.

http://www.sgi.com/products/software/opengl/license.html

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rahul 3 points 3 days ago

Ah. I had hoped that you could freely claim to have an unlicensed implementation without any legal repercussions. I'll admit I don't know much about all this.

On the other hand, this bit from the license page sounds good:

Trademark License. for new licensees who want to use the OpenGL trademark and logo and claim conformance. This license is available free of charge if you are developing open source implementations on open source platforms.

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asciilifeform 7 points 3 days ago

"Open" as in, say, OpenVMS once meant that the system could inter-operate with products from other sources - a break from the tradition of each computing vendor's wares being a self-contained universe.

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encinarus 2 points 3 days ago

If you don't know what it is, you almost certainly don't want it. Otherwise, your dreams have come true.

How true!


encinarus 0 points 3 days ago

Laugh... I passed over the comments and somehow I didn't notice someone else had pointed it out already. Doh!

Well, it's worth repeating. ;)

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serhei 19 points 3 days ago

If you don't know what it is, you almost certainly don't want it. Otherwise, your dreams have come true.

Pretty much sums it up..


dtr 3 points 3 days ago

Sweet!!
This is indeed awesome news!


anachronic 4 points 3 days ago

Mmmmm... delicious delectable bit torrent.


bobcat -10 points 3 days ago*

[comment score below threshold]
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asciilifeform 11 points 3 days ago*

RMS quit sometime around 1982. You can see LMI's code here. Symbolics continued to develop their OS for another decade or so, adding various features.

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bobcat -15 points 3 days ago*

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anonymous-coward 28 points 3 days ago*

(if (have-alpha-p you)
    (this-might-be-slightly-amusing)
    (just-get (list 'sbcl 'slime-for-emacs)))

sneakums -3 points 3 days ago

You must be a hacker.

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diogames 0 points 3 days ago

Any emulator to run it on?

Any emulator to run it on?

Thank you