Free Common Lisp Compilers / Interpreters

Free ANSI Common Lisp development systems

Free Common Lisp Compilers, Interpreters, Development Systems

This page lists free Common Lisp interpreters, compilers and development systems. Some of the compilers/interpreters comply with the ANSI Common Lisp specification, others will handle standard prolog with the Edinburgh syntax. (Check their documentation for details.) A number of development systems here also supply full source code. If you are looking for a hardcopy book that you can use to learn Common Lisp, try Practical Common Lisp by Peter Seibel, which seems to be a favourite ("favorite" if you use a different variant of English) of many. Guy Steele's Common LISP: The Language, 2nd edition (online version) was at one time considered the Common Lisp programmer's bible (now out of print), though you should note that it's more of a reference book than a tutorial.

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Free Common Lisp Interpreters and Compilers


Poplog is a software development system that includes incremental compilers for Pop11 (a Lisp-like language with more conventional syntax), Common Lisp (compatible with CLTL2 - Common LISP: The Language, 2nd edition), Prolog (compatible with the Edinburgh definition), and Standard ML. It comes with documentation, program libraries, and teaching materials for AI and Cognitive Science. Source code for the system (as well as example code such as the source code for the famous AI program, Eliza) is included. Supported platforms include Windows, Linux, Solaris on Sparc, Solaris on Intel, Digital Unix on Alpha, AIX on PowerPCs.

CMU Common Lisp Compiler

CMU Common Lisp conforms to the ANSI Common Lisp standard and runs on "most Unix platforms". It has a native-code compiler, generational garbage collection, multiprocessing capability on x86 ports, ability to interface with C source code/libraries, shared libraries, ability to directly make Unix system calls, support for interprocess communication and remote procedure calls, implements the Common Lisp Object System (CLOS) (with multimethods and a metaobject protocol), has a graphical source level debugger, etc. The source code is put in the public domain (according to the website).

Steel Bank Common Lisp

Steel Bank Common Lisp provides a compiler and runtime system for ANSI Common Lisp, a debugger, a statistical profiler, and a code coverage tool. The language includes some extensions to the ANSI Common Lisp standard, including garbage collection, a metaobject protocol, support for dealing with Unix-type operating systems (such as to get the command line passed to the program, obtain environment variables, and run other processes), etc. Platforms supported include Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD and Solaris.

LispWorks (Warning: Crippleware)

The Personal Edition of this Common Lisp implementation comes with an IDE, and is free crippleware (among other limitations, it will terminate your application after 5 hours). You can get Linux as well Windows versions for this compiler. You may also want to check out the Common Lisp HyperSpec (derived from the ANSI Common Lisp standard).


A Common Lisp implementation (compiler and interpreter) that supports the ANSI standard and the Lisp descibed in "Common Lisp: The Language (2nd edition)". It is released under the GNU General Public License and supports MSDOS, OS/2, Windows NT/95/98, Amiga 500-4000, Acorn RISC PC, Linux and other Unices.

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