This is a collection of information about using SLIME - a proto-manual.

Getting SLIME

SLIME is available in GNU/Linux distributions (see below) and from version control ( github link ). It works with GNU Emacs version 20+ and XEmacs 21, and with CMUCL 18e+, recent SBCLs, OpenMCL 0.14, and recent LispWorks. The fundamental features work with all Lisp backends, though for overall featurefulness CMUCL > SBCL > OpenMCL ~= LispWorks at present.

A manual for SLIME is available. In html or format.

The commands to paste are:

cvs -d login
# Password is "anonymous"
cvs -d checkout slime

The current CVS sources are usually reasonably stable. During times of heavy hacking, the tag FAIRLY-STABLE is set to a reasonably up-to-date working copy. If you hit troubles, you may want to fall back to this version for a while. To get the FAIRLY-STABLE version, type:

cvs -d checkout -r FAIRLY-STABLE slime


Installing SLIME just means putting it into your Emacs load-path and enabling it when you enter lisp-mode. Once the Emacs code is loaded, the Common Lisp code is compiled and loaded automatically and on-demand.

Here is the Elisp code. You can paste this into your ~/.emacs after changing the path on the first line to suit your installation.

(add-to-list 'load-path "/the/path/to/slime")
(require 'slime)
(add-hook 'lisp-mode-hook (lambda () (slime-mode t)))
(add-hook 'inferior-lisp-mode-hook (lambda () (inferior-slime-mode t)))
;; Optionally, specify the lisp program you are using. Default is "lisp"
(setq inferior-lisp-program "yourlisp") 

Starting SLIME

The easiest way to start is M-x slime. This starts a Lisp process in *inferior-lisp* and has it compile and start the SLIME server ("Swank"). Emacs then automatically connects to Lisp with a TCP socket. If you give a prefix argument (C-u M-x slime) then SLIME will prompt for the command to start Lisp (otherwise it uses inferior-lisp-program).

Alternatively, it is possible to start Lisp however you like and then later start the server manually. Load swank-loader.lisp, which will automatically load the other files (and recompile them if necessary), and initialize Swank:

 (load "/path/to/swank-loader.lisp")
Then you can start the server on (for example) port 4005 like this:

(swank:create-server :port 4005)

If you need the swank server to stay running then use this command instead:

(swank:create-server :port 4005 :style :spawn :dont-close t)

The server will listen for one connection from Emacs. To make that connection, use M-x slime-connect.

Note: Although it is possible to connect to a Lisp on a remote machine, we haven't yet figured out what does and doesn't work without a shared filesystem.

Note: If you don't get *slime-repl* buffer and only *inferior-lisp* buffer after starting slime, probably you should check if localhost is set correctly. Also see here.


One you're up and running, you can start exploring the SLIME Features.

SLIME Distributions

On Debian Linux you can install SLIME through apt-get install slime. Note that you will still have to apt-get install an emacs of your choice to make it work. On Gentoo GNU/Linux you can install SLIME via the command emerge slime-cvs. This will install a SLIME integrated nicely with the rest of the Emacs and Common Lisp infrastructure.

Other "Getting Started with SLIME" Guides

The Common Lisp Cookbook – Getting started
SLIME & OpenMCL & OS X by David Steuber.
SLIME & Allegro & Windows by Bill Clementson.
SLIME with 3 Windows CL Implementations by Bill Clementson.
SLIME with LispWorks Personal on Windows by Bill Clementson.
Reconnecting to a running Lisp with SLIME by Bill Clementson.
Reconnecting to a Lisp running in a remote FreeBSD jail with SLIME via ssh by Ng Pheng Siong.
Some undocumented SLIME features by Bill Clementson.
SLIME & SBCL & Windows Vista.
Installing CLISP, Emacs, and SLIME on Windows XP by Peter Christensen
Installing SBCL, Emacs, and SLIME on Windows XP by Peter Christensen
Using Slime over SSH by Any Sloane

Getting Started Documentation