23 Oct 2007 johnw   » (Master)

The Symbolics Lisp Machine on Linux

Out there on the Net somewhere (may Google be with you) there are binaries to be found for running a Symbolics Open Genera 2.0 Lisp Machine under Linux. I can’t quite tell you where to get these tasty binaries, but if you happen to find them, here are the steps you’ll need to get everything working. The HOWTOs that I read were a little sparse, so I’m hoping this will give a more complete summary of what’s needed.

Pick a Linux distribution

Open Genera can be run on both CentOS 5 and Ubuntu. I recommend Ubuntu, since it aims at a better desktop experience (and its X server plays nicer with VMware Fusion).

Ubuntu users will need a few extra tools installed. Just run this command:

$ sudo apt-get install nfs-utils nfs-kernel-server xinetd

For those running a RedHat-like OS, you’ll need to do this:

$ sudo yum install nfs xinetd

Turn on the time service

Open Genera uses the TCP time service to set its clock. For RedHat users this is easy to enable:

$ sudo chkconfig time on

For Ubuntu users, you’ll need to edit /etc/xinetd.d/time, and change the “disable = yes” line to read “disable = no”. Then type the following (only needed on Ubuntu):

$ sudo /etc/init.d/xinetd restart

Now test it for both systems by typing the following:

telnet localhost 37

If you cannot connect to port 37 using TCP, your xinetd is not configured correctly. The TCP time service needs to be running and available.

Create a lispm user

For the upcoming steps you’re going to need a user named lispm, who will own the Open Genera files. Just type:

$ sudo adduser -u 5000 -g 5000 lispm

Don’t forget to set a password for this user. If you intend to never login as this user, disable the password entirely:

$ sudo usermod -L lispm

You will still be able to start Open Genera as the lispm user, using the sudo command (see below).

Enable NFS

Next you’ll need NFSv2 running, which Open Genera will use to access and write to its system files. Here’s what I have in my /etc/exports file on Ubuntu:


For CentOS, it was nearly the same:


Now restart the NFS server. On Ubuntu it’s:

$ sudo /etc/init.d/nfs-kernel-server start

On CentOS it’s a bit friendly:

$ sudo service nfs restart

You should now be able to type showmount and see something like this:

$ sudo showmount -e localhost
Export list for localhost:

Open your firewall

When Open Genera runs, it will create a virtual TUN device to access the network stack. It’s very important that you have the tun module loaded into your kernel! Type this:

$ sudo grep CONFIG_TUN= /boot/config-$(uname -r)

This shows that on my system, TUN is a loaded module. I can ensure that it’s loaded by typing:

$ sudo modprobe tun
$ sudo lsmod | grep tun
tun 13824 0

If your output from the first grep command said “CONFIG_TUN=y”, then your TUN module is always loaded.

Now that we know TUN is avaible, grant full local access to the TUN device:

$ sudo iptables -A INPUT -i tun+ -j ACCEPT

This will let Open Genera talk to your NFS server and your time server.

Letting Open Genera talk to the Internet

If you want to give your Lisp Machine access to the Internet, add these commands:

$ sudo iptables -A FORWARD -i tun+ -j ACCEPT
$ sudo iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
$ sudo sysctl -w net.ipv4.ip_forward=1

If your Internet-connected interface is something other than eth0 (it might be eth1, ppp0, br0, etc), just change that in the second command above.

Turn off SELinux

In order to run on CentOS, SELinux will have to be disabled. Sorry I don’t have steps for how to run with SELinux type enforcement active:

$ sudo setenforce 0

Change to the lispm user

For the rest of the commands in this section, make sure that you’ve moved the Open Genera source tarballs into the lispm user’s home directory. Then type this command:

$ sudo su - lispm

After typing in your password to gain sudo access to the su command, you will now be the lispm user.

Untar snap4 and opengenera2

You should have two compressed tarballs in the lispm user’s home directory at this point: one called snap4 and one called opengenera2. Untar these so you have the following directories:

/home/lispm/og2       # contains all the opengenera2 files
/home/lispm/snap4 # contains all the snap4 files

Make sure that you have a directory now called /home/lispm/og2/sys.sct. This is very important! Go ahead and make a copy of it into snap4:

$ cp -R og2/sys.sct snap4

Also, make a symbolic link in snap4 that points back to the whole of the og2 directory, named rel-8-5. You’ll need this for the Document Browser to work:

$ ln -s og2 snap/sys.sct

Now the Open Genera files are in their right places.

Configure snap4

In your snap4 directory there is a file called .VLM. This is not the same as dot.VLM! The .VLM file should contain the following lines (you can just overwrite your .VLM file with these lines in fact):

genera.virtualMemory: 512
genera.world: MIT.vlod
genera.debugger: VLM_debugger
genera.coldLoad.geometry: 800x600

Feel free to raise or lower the virtualMemory setting. Don’t let it exceed the amount of actual memory and swap you have, or else genera2 will fail to start due to a failed block allocation.

You are now ready to run.

Run Open Genera

Run Open Genera the first time like this:

$ ~/snap4/genera -w ~/snap4/Genera-8-5.vlod

It will take some time to load up, and it first starts up a debugger window which it then minimizes. But after a while, you should be rewarded by a screen that says “Symbolics Open Genera 2.0”.

The accuracy of these next steps is very important:

  1. Type “define site genera-vlm”. Make sure there are two spaces in that sentence. Don’t be fooled by what the virtual machine is showing you, just hit space where I show a space. If you make a mistake, you may have to hit your Delete key instead of your Backspace key. If you hit Backspace and it moves your cursor, use Control-E to get back to the end of the line.
  2. You will words in italics that say “the name of the primary namespace server”. Click on this. Then in its place type “genera-vlm”.
  3. Now you’ll see a bunch of new lines. Above five lines up from the bottom will be more italicized words, this time saying, “the name of the DEC-AXP host on which Open Genera is running”. Don’t be fooled though, it just wants the name of your Linux host. If you call your Linux machine “genera”, then click on these words and typed “genera” in their place.
  4. Another one of the lines now on your screen says “System File Directory”, with a long path next to it that starts “HOST”. Click on this pathname, and in its place type: “genera:/home/lispm/snap4/sys.sct/site/”. You have to put your Linux hostname at the beginning of the string (if your hostname is other than “genera”, type it before colon instead). It is very important to put a forward slash at the end of this string! Hit return when you finish typing the new pathname.
  5. The next line says “Namespace Descriptor File” with another long path. Click on this path and in its place type, “genera:/home/lispm/snap4/sys.sct/site/genera-vlm-namespace.text”. Then hit return.
  6. You can leave the rest as it is. Click on the funny looking “End” button at the bottom now. It should take up to 10-20 seconds, but it will talk over NFS and create some new files in ~lispm/sys.sct/site/. You can look there on the Linux side for a few files whose names begin with “genera-vlm”. Note: If you ever need to redo this process, you will have to delete these files first.

Save the world

The virtual machine is now ready for use. But to avoid having to do all of this every time, it’s easier to save the world as it stands so you can reload from this point later. So at the command prompt type:

Command: Reset Network

This takes a few moments, then gives harmless a warning message. Once you’ve done that, now save:

Command: Save World<SPACE><SPACE>

By hitting your SPACE bar twice at the end of the Save World command, you will be provided with the pathname to your current world file. You’ll want to change this. One possibility is to make the basename of this file “Genera-8-5-1.vlod”.

After you hit Return, wait a while. It make take up to a full minute or so, but then Open Genera should report to you that the world has been saved. You can now close the window and kill Open Genera.

Restart the world

To restart your Lisp Machine from now on, use the following command from your own user account:

$ sudo -u lispm ~lispm/snap4/genera -w ~/lispm/snap4/Genera-8-5-1.vlod

You should be rewarded by a functioning Lisp Machine. Just type “Login” followed by a return. Give the username “Lisp-Machine”, and hit return twice to login anonymously as that user. It will complain that it can’t find the home directory for the anonymous user, but that’s not a problem.

You are now at the REPL and can start having some fun! Type F1-? for a quick list of places you can go next.

Syndicated 2007-10-23 10:07:38 from johnw@newartisans.com

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