Upgrade failures for asdf-3.1.7 and later

Robert Goldman rpgoldman at sift.net
Thu May 4 14:59:31 UTC 2017

On 5/4/17 May 4 -8:54 AM, James M. Lawrence wrote:
> LispWorks PE bundles an old asdf, which is loaded with (require "asdf").

Is this because LWPE is still LW 6 instead of 7?
> CLISP optionally bundles asdf -- (require "asdf") -- and I would
> expect some Linux distributions to have that configuration in the
> CLISP they supply. (require "asdf") also looks in directories
> (including the user home directory!) for asdf.lisp, so an old version
> could be unintentionally loaded. My real concern is LispWorks, though.

We can't really handle clisp effectively, because as far as releases are
concerned, it's dead.  I realize that the code repo is active, but
releases aren't being made, which means the de facto standard is now
something going on 7 years old.  That's not the ASDF project's fault.
> Maybe this wasn't clear enough, but my communications here are on
> behalf of users, not me. Many -- perhaps most, perhaps nearly all --
> people use asdf only indirectly through Quicklisp. I am trying to help
> the poor end-user who has a borked system and doesn't understand what
> is wrong. I would like to prevent the borkedness from happening in the
> first place.
> Most people initialize Quicklisp in their startup file. After using
> the lisp image for a while, they may wish to load a system and
> discover that the system requires asdf3. So they load asdf3. And then
> everything is borked. It may be difficult even for an experienced user
> to discover what is wrong, much less a casual user, and next to
> impossible for a newcomer.
> In the manual I didn't see any of the caveats you mention about the
> central registry. It says that asdf can be upgraded on the fly, and
> that's what people will expect. They don't expect that upgrading will
> bork the lisp image for some reason unknown to them.

I will see if I can put in a FAQ about this.  Look for something soon.
> The quick and dirty workaround I mentioned is not something that would
> be part of any real code, just something a user could do to get things
> unborked again, that is, to enable Quicklisp to load again.
> I don't want to use *central-registry*. I'm not advocating using
> *central-registry*. I don't use *centry-registry* myself, except
> indirectly through Quicklisp. I am not insisting on weird upgrades.
> All I want to do is fix problems that end-users encounter.

I'm not familiar with the guts of QL, but I thought QL didn't use
central registry.  I thought it used its own extension to the loading


> On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 11:16 PM, Faré <fahree at gmail.com> wrote:
>> On Wed, May 3, 2017 at 7:10 PM, James M. Lawrence <llmjjmll at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> The manual says "it is possible to upgrade from ASDF 1 to ASDF 2 or
>>> ASDF 3 on the fly", and "asdf:*central-registry* is not recommended
>>> anymore, though we will continue to support it". From the
>>> documentation it is not immediately clear that upgrading is
>>> purposefully broken.
>> Upgrading works. Central-registry works. Central-registry is not
>> preserved by upgrading. And doesn't need to be, because
>> central-registry is something you insert into a special configuration
>> file that needs to first load the proper asdf, anyway. Whoever writes
>> that configuration file by hypothesis knows where all the software is
>> located. It just doesn't make sense to load the wrong asdf then
>> configure your central-registry only then to load yet another asdf. If
>> you do things like that you deserve to lose.
>>> I suppose a quick and dirty workaround would be
>>> something like (setf asdf:*central-registry*
>>> asdf-2.26:*central-registry*).
>> That doesn't make sense, and asdf cannot guess what ancient version of
>> asdf was moved aside. Once again, it used to try much harder to
>> upgrade from 2.26 on sbcl and several other implementations, but that
>> got too unwieldy to support, for no good reason.
>>> Quicklisp's behavior of using the asdf version bundled with the
>>> implementation, if it exists, seems reasonable, at least at face
>>> value. After all, that's the version the vendors tested, and it may
>>> already be part of the image (or speedily loadable).
>> That part is totally reasonable indeed, and works perfectly.
>>> Even if Quicklisp
>>> includes asdf-3.1.7, it would still try to load the bundled version
>>> first, so things would still be broken on LispWorks PE and CLISP.
>> Does not compute. Neither LispWorks PE nor CLISP release from 2010
>> provides ASDF. Quicklisp will then load its own ASDF, but that entails
>> no upgrade. If you want a more recent ASDF on top of that provided by
>> Quicklisp, you are going to lose anyway — instead overwrite
>> Quicklisp's asdf.lisp with the recent one, or convince Xach to upgrade
>> Quicklisp's ASDF to 3.1.7. Or use asdf/tools/install-asdf.lisp to make
>> your implementation provide ASDF despite it not being provided out of
>> the box.
>> If you insist on such a weird upgrade, many things may go wrong beside
>> the *central-registry*. Yet even then you shouldn't be using the
>> *central-registry* to begin with. Use the source-registry.
>>> Therefore the real question is whether people should load the asdf
>>> bundled with the implementation, either on their own or through
>>> Quicklisp. If upgrading wasn't broken, things would just work and we
>>> wouldn't have to debate that question.
>> Upgrading is not broken. Your use pattern is broken. Don't initialize
>> the central registry after you load the wrong asdf then load the
>> correct one then expect things to work.
>>> How about preserving *central-registry* when upgrading? That seems
>>> completely natural and expected to me, even apart from the fact that
>>> it happens to solve the problem at hand.
>> It's completely unnatural and backwards to load a wrong asdf,
>> initialize it, then upgrade it. Please configure *after* you upgrade
>> (and yes, *if* the configuration is for ASDF to find ASDF itself, you
>> may have to configure that part twice; or just skip the part about
>> loading the wrong asdf). And try using install-asdf.lisp where
>> applicable.
>> Finally, please don't use the central-registry for cases like these.
>> Use the source-registry.
>> —♯ƒ • François-René ÐVB Rideau •Reflection&Cybernethics• http://fare.tunes.org
>> Only a fool tests the depth of the water with both feet. — African proverb

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