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portability of pathnames
I completely understand and sympathize with Loosemore's problems with
pathnames, which are really problems with doing file operations in a
generic way that works on a wide variety of operating systems with
wildly varying restrictions on what their file systems can do. It's
quite a difficult problem.
The Symbolics system contains a huge amount of mechanism for dealing
with problems of this sort. The designers of Common Lisp felt that this
mechanism was hairy and unnecessary (which was incorrect) and should not
be in Common Lisp because it was too complex (which was probably
correct, at least at the time). Not having this in Common Lisp leaves
users in a bind, of course. Anyone who wanted to solve such problems
would do well to start by reading the Symbolics documentation and
talking to some Symbolics users who have used a variety of file systems.