Installing Common Lisp (CLISP) on Mac OS X

The original motivation behind installing Common Lisp was to try the book: Land of Lisp. Even if you don’t use Lisp in your daily life or workplace, you should give it a try, for they say, coding in Lisp will not only enhance your programming skills but also fundamentally change the way you think!


Operating System: Mac OS X Mavericks
Homebrew: Version 0.9.5
GNU CLISP: Version 2.49

The best way to install CLISP on a Mac in our opinion is via Homebrew.

First make sure you have Homebrew installed. You can find the installation instructions at

You can install Homebrew on your Mac by running the following command in the Terminal:

ruby -e "$(curl -fsSL"

We like Homebrew because it’s very easy to maintain and update packages. Besides Homebrew installs packages under the user’s home directory so there is little chance of messing up the Mac system directories and the base packages that come with it.

Once Homebrew is installed and running well, installing CLISP is trivial. Issue the command:

brew install clisp

If you like verbose output, issue the command:

brew -v install clisp

Wait for the packages to download and if necessary follow any recommendations provided by brew.

Once CLISP is installed you can run the following command to get the interactive console:



Here’s a video that shows CLISP installation in action! The video shows the download and CLISP compiling process.  Warning: Might be boring like watching paint dry 🙂