[Openmcl-devel] Historical Question

Gary Byers gb at clozure.com
Sat Dec 16 08:23:59 UTC 2006

On Fri, 15 Dec 2006, Bill Clementson wrote:

> Hi Brent,
>> I remember someone (probably Gary) mentioning that OpenMCL had originally been envisioned for use in spacecraft and so forth.
>> I was curious if OpenMCL had ever been used for such an application?
> You'll find some background on Erann Gat's page "Lisping at JPL"
> (http://www.flownet.com/gat/jpl-lisp.html) - in particular, the
> section titled "2000 - MDS".
> There is also some information in the presentation that Gary Byers
> gave to the ACL2 seminar (http://bc.tech.coop/blog/050824.html).
> I'm sure Gary has a lot of additional tidbits that he can share. ;-)

I'm not sure if there's too much to add to that.  The idea was to
target VxWorks/PPC (a real-time OS that was used on most flight
hardware) that had a fairly spartan development environment. It
happened to be the case that PPC Linux used the same object file
format and foreign calling sequence, but Linux (usually) didn't
have to be rebooted every time a buggy application scribbled
over memory randomly, so it was generally a lot more sensible
to port to Linux, try to get the Linux version stable, and use
a PPC Linux box to develop for VxWorks.

(This eventually became OpenMCL, which was available for about
a year on LinuxPPC before it was ported to Darwin.)

As both Erann's paper and my presentation mention, none of what
eventually became OpenMCL ever flew on a JPL mission.

It's probably worth mentioning that the idea of trying to get
an MCL source license and using MCL as the basis for a small-
footprint CL for embedded systems was Erann's; I was pretty
skeptical about a lot of the things that were involved in
that, but that skepticism turned out to be mostly unfounded.

> --
> Bill Clementson

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