CSCE476/876: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence

Instructions on using xemacs and Allegro Common Lisp (ACL)

First, learn how to use the (great) editor emacs, then try to run ACL from within emacs. A terrific combination.

On the PC under Linux:

  1. Boot a PC under Linux (not Windows) and log yourself on the localhost
  2. Start emacs by typing in a command shell "emacs &". If you are having trouble starting emacs, inform the System Administrator (

On Solaris:

  1. Log to or another Solaris machine that has ACL installed (check with CSE System Administrators).
  2. Start xemacs by typing in a command shell "xemacs &". If you are having trouble starting emacs, inform the System Administrator (

Now you are read to start playing with emacs:

  1. The on-line tutorial of Emacs can be obtained by typing "ESC-x help-with-tutorial" or by printing the same file stored here for your convenience.
  2. Go through the entire tutorial of Emacs, and execute it step by step, it is well worth your time.

Instructions for starting Allegro Common Lisp in Emacs (both PC/Linux and Solaris):

  1. Create, if you don't have one, a initialization file for emacs (likely, a file ~/.emacs on Linux or a file ~/.xemacs/init.el on Solaris).
  2. In the initialization file, add the following two lisp-like expressions (emacs itself is written in a Lisp-like language). For Linux, add:
      ;;; Allegro Common Lisp
      (load "/usr/local/acl90/eli/fi-site-init.el")
      (setq fi:common-lisp-image-name "/usr/local/acl90/alisp")

    For Solaris, add:
      ;;; Allegro Common Lisp
      (load "/usr/local/acl90/xeli/fi-site-init.el")
      (setq fi:common-lisp-image-name "/usr/local/acl90/alisp")

    The first line is a comment. The second line tells emacs how to interface with Lisp to facilitate your life, and the third line tells emacs which image of Lisp to load.
  3. To allow emacs to evaluate these two expressions (and thus account for the initialisations), exit emacs and re-start it by typing "emacs &" (alternatively, "xemacs &") in an xterm/console or from the dinosaur
  4. Start ACL by typing "ESC-x fi:common-lisp". "fi" stands for Franz Inc., the vendor of Allegro Common Lisp.

Using composer:
ACL has a terrific interactive development environment with a graphical inspector, debugger, profiler (time and space), etc. etc. To use it, you check out "Start composer" button in the menu buttons of emacs.  Alternativelyt, type i n your *common-lisp* buffer the following:

(require 'composer)
(composer:start-composer) alternatively, you can also use the buttons on the top of the emacs window.

Warning about X:
The following problem is likely solved, but may arise on some computers.
Sometimes, especially when you are working remotely, you need to tell Xwindows to allow Lisp to open new windows and to tell the computer running your Lisp where to open up a window.  The following two commands (respectively) may be handy/necessary. You should type them before you start emacs/xemacs, then ACL, then composer...:

  1. From the machine you are sitting on: xhost + (or xhost <the name of the machine where Lisp is running>)
  2. From the machine running the Lisp image: setenv DISPLAY <the name of the specific station you are working on>.<domain-name>.<extension>:0.0.  For example: setenv DISPLAY

Please let us know quickly if you are encountering any problems. Contact the instructor and TA during office hours or ask for an appointment.

Last modified: Sun Jan 27 21:58:43 CST 2008