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Hopefully the question explains itself well enough. I'm referring to exta time and system resources involved for one vs. the other... I tend to think it would be the same, but I want to go beyond just think. Do the both make the same system calls?

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You seem to be asking two separate questions -- one, are the overheads the same, two, are the system calls the same... the answer doesn't have to be the same to both of them. –  Chris Down Nov 29 '11 at 8:03
    
I'm basically just wondering if calling awk or a bash script from elisp is going to slow things down more than if I was making similar calls from a bash script.. I've just started elisp-ing and wondered if, for example, bash-calling-bash skips the need to load the bash interpreter, but emacs-calling-bash must load it.. Maybe that's the only time it makes a difference (or maybe there is no difference?) ... The more I think about it, it seems that calling awk for example, would be the same from either bash or elisp.. so it is probably a quetion about what happens when bash calls bash –  Peter.O Nov 29 '11 at 12:30

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This will highly depend on what is happening on the system besides your elisp program running, because the bash program (and all required libs) may or may not be cached at that moment in time. Same goes for awk. In the case where you call bash from bash, the bash must already have been loaded into memory.

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Okay, thanks.. so there's nothing dramatically different going on.. It is just one interpreted language calling another.. I think I'm still getting my head around the fact that elisp is not an addon language subordinate to the editor, but rather the editor is an awk or python program :), well, you know what I mean: the awk/python just happens to be elisp in this case, and emacs is a script... all of which puts elisp on an even keel with other languages. Got it! –  Peter.O Nov 29 '11 at 17:24

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