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3.1 Generally Sexp-ing

The file format for the configuration items (see Configuration) is composed of comments, structured expressions, and whitespace.


A comment begins with ‘;’ (semicolon) and goes to the end of the line. If you use Emacs, you can add the comment:

;; -*- scheme -*-

on the first line to make comments appear differently, presuming syntax highlighting support is enabled.

structured expressions

A structured expression, for the purposes of GNU Alive, is one of:


A decimal3 number. For instance, 42.


A contiguous sequence of non-whitespace characters that do not include ‘()’ (parentheses), ‘,’ (comma), ‘'’ (apopostrophe, also known as single-quote), or ‘"’ (double-quote). For instance,

That’s it!


Everything else, that is, all the stuff between comments and structured expressions, is whitespace.



(usually). GNU Alive will also accept #b101010 (binary), #o52 (octal) and #x2A (hexadecimal) without complaint.