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Getting started with scheme

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This section provides an overview of what scheme is, and why a developer might want to use it.

It should also mention any large subjects within scheme, and link out to the related topics. Since the Documentation for scheme is new, you may need to create initial versions of those related topics.

Installing CHICKEN Scheme

CHICKEN is a Scheme interpreter and compiler with its own extension module system called "eggs". It is capable of compiling Scheme to native code by first compiling Scheme to C.


Debian or Ubuntu or other derived distros:

sudo apt-get install chicken-bin

Fedora / RHEL / CentOS:

sudo yum install chicken-bin

Arch Linux:

sudo pacman -S chicken


sudo emerge -av dev-scheme/chicken

OS X with Homebrew:

brew install chicken


doas pkg_add -vi chicken

Microsoft Windows

  • Install MSYS2

  • Run the MSYS2 MinGW-w64 Shell

  • Install some prerequesites by running:

    pacman -S mingw-w64-cross-toolchain base-devel mingw-w64-x86_64-gcc winpty wget
  • Download the latest release tarball by typing:

  • Extract the tarball by running tar xvf chicken.tar.gz

  • Enter the extracted directory, for example by typing cd chicken-4.11.0

  • Run make PLATFORM=mingw-msys install

If you have trouble running csi, try instead running winpty csi


To use the CHICKEN Scheme REPL, type csi at the command line.

To compile a Scheme program using CHICKEN, run csc program.scm, which will create an executable named program in the current directory.

Installing modules

Chicken Scheme has a lot of modules that can be browsed in the egg index. Eggs are scheme modules that will be downloaded and then compiled by chicken-scheme. In some cases, it might be necessary to install external dependencies using your usual package manager.

You install the chosen eggs with this command:

sudo chicken-install [name of egg]

Making use of the REPL

You may wish to add readline support to your REPL to make line editing in csi behave more like you might expect.

To do this, run sudo chicken-install readline, and then create a file named ~/.csirc with the following contents:

(use readline)
(current-input-port (make-readline-port))
(install-history-file #f "/.csi.history")

Installing mit-scheme

The following are examples of how to install MIT/GNU Scheme:

Debian/Ubuntu installation:

sudo apt-get install mit-scheme

Manual installation:

Download the Unix binary directly from the GNU Project, then follow the instructions from the official webpage:

# Unpack the tar file
tar xzf mit-scheme.tar.gz

# move into the directory
cd mit-scheme/src

# configure the software

By default, the software will be installed in /usr/local, in the subdirectories bin and lib. If you want it installed somewhere else, for example /opt/mit-scheme, pass the --prefix option to the configure script, as in ./configure --prefix=/opt/mit-scheme.

The configure script accepts all the normal arguments for such scripts, and additionally accepts some that are specific to MIT/GNU Scheme. To see all the possible arguments and their meanings, run the command ./configure --help.

# build
make compile-microcode

# compile
make install # may require super-user permissions (Depending on configuration)

Windows 7:

The self-installing executable can be found in the official website.

MIT/GNU Scheme is distributed as a self-installing executable. Installation of the software is straightforward. Simply execute the downloaded file and answer the installer's questions. The installer will allow you to choose the directory in which MIT/GNU Scheme is to be installed, and the name of the folder in which the shortcuts are to be placed.