ecl - Embeddable Common Lisp



ecl -- Embeddable Common Lisp


ecl [-? | --help] [-v | --version] [--debug | --nodebug]
[--dir dir] [--load file] [--shell file] [--eval expr] [--rc | --norc]
[--c-stack size] [--lisp-stack size] [--heap-size size]
[--frame-stack size]
[[-o ofile] [-c [cfile]] [-h [hfile]] [--data [datafile]] [-s] [-q]
[[-o ofile] --link file+]
[--input-encoding external-format] [--output-encoding external-format]
[--error-encoding external-format] [--encoding external-format]
[--trap-fpe | --no-trap-fpe]


ECL (Embeddable Common-Lisp) is an interpreter of the Common-Lisp language as described in the X3J13 ANSI specification, featuring CLOS (Common-Lisp Object System), conditions, loops, etc. plus a translator to C, which can produce standalone executables.

ECL supports the operating systems Linux, FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD, OS X, Solaris and Windows, running on top of the Intel, Sparc, Alpha, PowerPC and ARM processors.

The current ECL implementation features:

A bytecode compiler and interpreter.

Compiles Lisp also with any C/C++ compiler

Can build standalone executables and libraries

ASDF, Sockets, Gray streams, MOP, and other useful components

Extremely portable

A reasonable license

ecl without any argument starts the interactive lisp session.


−?, −−help

Shows the help prompt without running the ECL.

−v, −−version,

Prints the current version of ECL, without running the ECL.


Turned on by default, this enables the debugging in the setup phase, so that you can debug your files.


Run without debugging setup phase, meaning that errors prevent ECL from starting up.

−−dir directory

Use directory as a system directory.

−−load file

Load source file before loading the .rc file and starting the toplevel.

−−shell file

Executes the given file and exits, without providing a read-eval-print loop. If you want to use lisp as a scripting language, you can write #!${exec_prefix}/bin/ecl --shell on the first line of the file to be executed, and then ECL will be automatically invoked.

−−eval file

Evaluate the file before loading the .rc file and starting the Top Level.


Load configuration files at startup (default).


Do not load configuration files at startup.

−−c−stack size

Set C stack size in kilobytes for C compiler.

−−lisp−stack size

Set stack size in kilobytes for bytecodes interpreter.

−−heap−stack size

Set heap size in kilobytes.

−−frame−stack size

Set frame size in kilobytes for runtime control structures.

−o file

Provide the output target file for compilation.

−c cfile

When compiling name the intermediary *.c file cfile and do not delete it afterwards.

−h hfile

When compiling name the intermediary *.h file hfile and do not delete it afterwards.

−−data [datafile]

Dumps compiler data into datafile or, if not supplied, into a file named after the source file, but with .data as extension.


Produce a linkable object file. It cannot be loaded with (load), but it can be used to build libraries or standalone executable programs.


Short for quiet -- produce less notes.

−−compile file

Translates file to C and invokes the local C compiler to produce a native code program.

−−link file+

Create standalone executable from Lisp files file+.

−−input-encoding encoding

Specify the external  encoding for standard input.

−−output-encoding encoding

Specify the external  encoding for standard output.

−−error-encoding encoding

Specify the external  encoding for standard error.

−−encoding encoding

Specify the external  encoding for standard input, output, trace and error.


Make ECL debugger catch floating point exception.


Disable ECL debugger floating point exception catching.


The original version was developed by Giuseppe Attardi starting from the Kyoto Common Lisp implementation by Taiichi Yuasa, Masami Hagiya. Further development was lead by Juan Jose Garcia Ripoll. The current maintainers of ECL are Daniel KochmaÅski and Marius Gerbershagen, who can be reached at the ECL mailing list.


˜/.ecl, ˜/.eclrc

Default initialization files loaded at startup unless the option −−norc is provided (if they exist).


ANSI Common Lisp standard X3.226-1994

The Common Lisp HyperSpec


Unfortunately it is possible that there are some bugs in the program. In case you find any bug, please report it as an issue (after making sure that it hasn’t been reported or fixed) to official gitlab repository:


ECL is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify it under the terms of the GNU Library General Public License as published by the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or (at your option) any later version; see file COPYING. This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful, but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the GNU Library General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU Library General Public License along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software Foundation, Inc., 675 Mass Ave, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA.

Please report bugs, comments, suggestions to the ecl mailing list: [email protected] (or use gitlab).

Updated 2024-01-29 - |