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    Almost all of the system can be cross-compiled, however to do a full system
    build you need load in all the subsystems and then make a suspended image.

What parts of the system cannot be cross compiled,
and how can one get them ported to a new system?

Given sources, is it possible to produce a binary for a new
machine straightforwardly, or does it require difficult bootstrapping?

    For purposes of a multi-OS binary distribution, it might make sense to
    distribute object files and a bootstrap image (what we call a "kernel").

This would be good.  But what we really need is to avoid anything
in the distribution that is compiled specifically for one machine.

Here is an idea.  Suppose you provide a bytecode interpreter and
provide the files needed for real compilation in bytecode form.  This
would be enough to get the system started, compile the Lisp code for
your own machine, and get going.  And it would be machine-independent.

What do you think?

    How do you do releases?  Is the "Gnu tape" a constantly moving target, or
    does it go through noticeable release cycles?

We make new tapes from time to time.  No regular timescale.