Pallene Compiler

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Pallene is a statically typed, ahead-of-time-compiled sister language to Lua, with a focus on performance. It is also a friendly fork of the Titan language.

Pallene is intended for writing performance sensitive code that interacts with Lua, a space that is currently filled by C modules and by LuaJIT. Compared to C, Pallene should offer better support for interacting with Lua data types, bypassing the unfriendly syntax and performance overhead of the Lua-C API. Compared to LuaJIT, Pallene aims to offer more predictable run-time performance.

Building the Pallene Compiler

In order to use this source distribution of the Pallene compiler, you need to install its Lua library dependencies and compile its run-time library.


Before you build Pallene, you need to install a C compiler (e.g. gcc) and make on your system. Ubuntu users can run the following commands to install these tools.

sudo apt update
sudo apt install build-essential

If you are on Linux, we also recommend that you install the Readline library.

sudo apt install libreadline-dev # for Ubuntu & Debian-based distros
sudo dnf install readline-devel  # for Fedora

Another optional dependency is GNU parallel, which speeds up how long it takes to run the test suite.

sudo apt install parallel # for Ubuntu & Debian-based distros
sudo dnf install parallel # for Fedora

Pallene requires Lua 5.3 to be installed on your system. You can either install it from source or via the package manager for your Linux distro. If you install via the package manager then make sure to also install the Lua headers, which are often in a separate "development" package.

After Lua 5.3 is installed, download the source code of LuaRocks from Follow the build instructions appropriate for your platform and install it on your system.

If LuaRocks is configured to use older versions of Lua, you may not be able to install the dependencies as described in the next section. Therefore, please configure LuaRocks to use Lua 5.3. You can use the following command to configure LuaRocks to use Lua 5.3 when compiling it: ./configure --lua-version=5.3

Installing Lua dependencies

The easiest way to install these dependencies is with the LuaRocks package manager:

$ luarocks install --local --only-deps pallene-dev-1.rockspec

If you use the --local flag when installing packages from Luarocks, you may also need to configure the appropriate environment variables on your terminal configuration file. If you are using bash you can do (as stated in luarocks --help path):

$ echo 'eval `luarocks path`' >> ~/.bashrc

For further information, consult the Luarocks documentation.

Compiling the runtime libraries

Pallene must be run against a custom-built version of the Lua interpreter, as well as the Pallene runtime library. Both of these are written in C and must be compiled before the Pallene compiler can be used.

These two components can be built through the Makefile we provide. The command to be used depends on your operating system:

make linux-readline # for Linux
make macosx         # for MacOS


To compile a foo.pln file to a module call pallenec as follows.

Note: Your current working directory must be the root of this repository, due to Bug #16.

$ ./pallenec foo.pln

To run Pallene, you must currently use the bundled version of the Lua interpreter (again, see Bug #16).

$ ./lua/src/lua -l foo

It is possible to change compiler optimization level, for the Pallene compiler and C compiler. Here are some examples:

# execute no optimization (Pallene and C compiler)
$ ./pallenec test.pln -O0

# execute Pallene compiler optimizations and C compiler level 3 optimizations
$ ./pallenec test.pln -O3

# execute no optimizations for Pallene compiler but executes C compiler level 2 optimizations
$ env CFLAGS="-O2" ./pallenec test.pln -O0

# execute all default optimizations (same as -O2)
$ ./pallenec test.pln

Note: For the C compiler only, the setting set using CFLAGS override the setting set by flag -O.

For more compiler options, see ./pallenec --help

Developing Pallene

If you want to develop Pallene, it is helpful to know how to configure your editor to preserve our style standards, and to know how to run the test suite.

Configuring your editor

The easiest way to make sure you are indenting things correctly is to install the EditorConfig plugin in your favorite text editor.

This project uses 4 spaces for indentation, and tries to limit each line to at most 80 columns.

Using a linter.

We use Luacheck to lint our Lua source code. We recommend running it at least once before each pull-request or, even better, integrating it to your text editor. For instructions on how to install and use Luacheck, see our .luacheckrc file.

Running the test suite

We use Busted to run our test suite. It can be installed using LuaRocks:

$ luarocks install --local busted

To run the test suite, run the ./test-project script in this project's root directory. (Tip: if GNU parallel is installed in your system, running the full test suite will be much faster.)

$ ./test-project                       # Run all tests
$ ./test-project spec/parser_spec.lua  # Run just one of the test suite files

The ./test-project script accepts the same command-line flags as busted. If you are debugging an unhandled exception in a test case, the following ones might help:

Flag Effect
./test-project -v Verbose output, including the stack trace
./test-project -k Run all tests even if some tests are failing
./test-project -o gtest Changes the output formatting.
This may be clearer if you are using print statements for debugging.

Running the benchmarks suite

To run of the benchmarks in the benchmarks directory, run the benchmarks/run script from the root project directory:

./benchmarks/run benchmarks/sieve/pallene.pln

By default, the benchmark runner just outputs the running time, as measured by /usr/bin/time, but it also supports other measurements. For example, --mode=perf shows perf output and --mode=none shows the stdout produced by the benchmark, without measuring anything.

./benchmarks/run benchmarks/sieve/pallene.pln --mode=none

To run Pallene's benchmarks you need to have /usr/bin/time installed in your system. Some Linux distributions may have only the Bash time builtin function but not the /usr/bin/time executable. If that is the case you will need to install time with $ sudo apt install time or equivalent.

To run benchmarks with LuaJIT, use the --lua option:

./benchmarks/run benchmarks/sieve/lua.lua --lua=luajit

Please run ./benchmarks/generate_lua to translate all the benchmarks written in Pallene to Lua whenever changes are made to the translator.

Open Source Agenda is not affiliated with "Pallene" Project. README Source: pallene-lang/pallene
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