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Re: Symbolics & Sun-3 + Lucid Dev Envs

For whatever it is worth, here is my 2 cents.  I used a Symbolics
3600 for a year and am currently using Franz Inc.'s Common Lisp on a
Sun 3/75 (8 MB) for the same project.  Both systems have their
advantages and disadvantages.

I personally prefer the Unix environment and Gnu Emacs to the
Symbolics environment and Zmacs, but that is a matter of taste and
experience.  However, it is easy to duplicate much of the useful,
Lisp-specific functionality of a Lisp machine (edit-definition,
edit-all-callers, show-arglist, etc.) in Gnu Emacs, though Symbolics
seems to be putting effort into differentiating their product in this

Getting back to the main point of this discussion.  It is clear that
8MB is not enough memory to run Lisp on a Sun 3.  When I garbage
collect, my machine pages fiercely for 10 seconds or so.  However, on
a 32MB Sun 3/260, garbage collections are unobtrusive.  To be fair,
8MB (2 MW) is barely adequate on a Symbolics running Release 6.  When
I ran a test by borrowing 2 MW from another machine, my Symbolics
became a lot more pleasant (other people tell me that the additional
memory is even more important for Release 7).  Symbolics does a much
better job of hiding the GC overhead than do the Sun Lisp's.

I don't know much about the relative cost of the various systems
except that Sun gives hefty discounts to Universities and that their
maintenance prices don't cause nearly as much amusement as Symbolic's.


PS  The reason that I went from a Symbolics to a Sun is that our
project could not justify taking up the machine room space that could
be used by a server and 3 or 4 disks with a single-user machine.