Tag Archives: lisp-machines

Genera Notes, Part 1/N

I think I’d like to start sharing some screenshots and notes taken while playing with my local Open Genera installation.  In part for historical capture reasons, and in part because I think it’s fun.

I set up the system using the instructions in this Youtube video, which can be tl;dr’d as:

  • install an old-ass Ubuntu in a Virtualbox
  • configure NFS and other random things
  • SSH in with Putty and fire up an Open Genera instance via X Windows

The old-ass Ubuntu is allegedly necessary due to some behavior in newer X that breaks Open Genera, but I haven’t verified that yet, only read it.

I’m planning to write up the (Virtualbox on Windows) installation process shown in that video soon for my own future reference.  At that point I’ll probably write a script to automate it as well.

If you don’t use Windows, there is already this excellent tutorial: Running Open Genera 2.0 on Linux.  I’ve exchanged mail with the author of this piece, he seems like quite a nice guy in addition to being pretty knowledgeable.  Apparently Open Genera runs more robustly on a Compaq AlphaServerDS10L (or similar machine) as was originally intended, though it’s much slower than modern systems.

13 November 2018

Currently reading the Genera User’s Guide section entitled Getting Acquainted with Dynamic Windows (link is to the exact page of the PDF on Internet Archive!).  There is a list of bookmarks on the right that I’d like to revisit and finish reading.

To add a document to the Bookmarks pane in Document Examiner, either:

  • Visit it (so it’s added automatically)
  • From somewhere else in the interface, when you see a link (AKA a hoverable title for a document or section thereof), press Shift and then click with the left mouse button (also denoted as Sh-Mouse-M by the system – you need a three-button mouse to use this system properly)

Note: the excessive (?) whitespace in the screenshot below is due to the fact that we’re running at 1920×1080, which is my laptop’s default resolution but is probably (?) larger than any physical Lisp Machine monitor that ever existed.  Based on some pictures of actual monitors I’ve seen, I wonder if this environment would profit from running on a vertically oriented monitor as well.  Something to play with.

As I read various docs, I’ve been taking notes in Zmacs.  The Zmacs buffer shown in the next screenshot is actually getting written to the Linux machine’s (virtual) disk, and can thus be backed up, edited from other text editors, etc.  It’s all happening over NFS!  And as you have probably deduced from the window borders, this Genera window is being served over the X Windows system (specifically XMing running on Windows).

Here’s the Zmacs window after being expanded using the System menu (shown, which can be accessed at any time via Sh-Mouse-R):

In addition to the Genera window, there is the “cold load” window that is also displayed via X Windows while Open Genera is running.  And lo!  As I began writing this, Genera crashed by trying to display an ellipse (an image from the ZMail documentation, specifically Conceptual Zmail Architecture), which caused it to try to reference an array out of bounds (I don’t know why, yet).  Here’s the backtrace as shown in the cold load window (the Genera window with Document Examiner just beeped and froze – when that happens it’s time to look at the cold load window):

In the cold load window’s debugger I was able to ascertain the following keys’ meanings, at least on my laptop (confusingly, the keys here do not map to the same keys as in the Genera X window):

  • Shift-E means “eval (program)”, dropping you into Lisp
  • * (asterisk) means Abort.  It popped me back up out of the cold load stream and into Genera (the Document Examiner in particular).  My document window state was nuked, but I was able to click the bookmark to return to the section I was reading.  (Now to go back and see if I can get Document Examiner to crash again with a bad array subscript by viewing that page again!).

Note: the above crash(es) happened while I was simultaneously loading CLIM in the Listener, which seems to put a lot of load on the (smallish, Virtualbox’d) system I’m running on.  So it may have something to do with that.  Here’s what some of the output of loading CLIM looks like:

Oh, and another thing: Zmail can read GNU Emacs RMAIL files according to the docs!  I’m not 100% sure what “UNIX” mail format means in this context, but perhaps it means good old mbox?

Anyway I’ve got a lot left to explore on this system.  As it is I’ve been reading the documentation and browsing around in my off hours for the last week or two, and it feels like I’m just getting started.