Small languages (was Re: Lua, Lunatic and Python

Ville Vainio ville.spammehardvainio at
Mon Dec 15 19:00:44 CET 2003

Gustavo Niemeyer <niemeyer at> writes:

> Heh.. "people should not".. That's the tipical RMS arrogance.

To be fair to RMS, I must say I didn't quote him directly. Just tried
to shoot in the right direction, more or less.

BTW, the page

Talks about this issue a bit, and
says something that is more on topic and kinda interesting:
We had a person working last summer finishing up a translator from
Python to Scheme. I don't know if it's entirely finished yet, but for
anyone interested in this project, please get in touch. So that's the
plan we have for the future.

> Today, the Lua interpreter source code is included inside APT-RPM
> tarball. I've also included in the build all default Lua standard
> libraries (string handling, etc), a posix module, and a regular
> expression module, moving the static library size to 130kb (no
> external dependencies, besides libc).

Fair enough. This also sounds like an interesting Python project -
make Python small and simple enough to be included in source tarballs
w/o dependencies (fork?). It should be doable. I'm not sure what would
have to go; some types maybe? It might not be the Real Deal, but in
these cases it would still be lesser evil than TCL (don't know enough
about Lua yet to say anything).

> > BTW, how big is something like Guile or other minimal Scheme anyway?
> > Why wouldn't it do?
> Guile's static library is about 1MB in size. In that case I'd
> choose Python, not Guile. I don't remember about Scheme, but while

Funny - any idea what they screwed up? To a layman, Scheme should be
amoung the simplest languages to execute, you don't even need a
parser. Also, a config language could execute the code as-is, w/o the
bytecode compilation stage.

> looking for some embeddable language I've gone trough that path,
> and ended up in Lua as the best option. Let me know if you find
> something better.

For me, the best (well, only) option would be one that could be used in recent
versions of Symbian.

> > How small does it need to be for your application?
> Do you have something with 1kb? :-)

Perhaps someone might be able to hack up a dynamically scoped Lisp
interpreter in that space...

Ville Vainio

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