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When an old version of ASDF was loaded, it was very hard to upgrade ASDF in your current image without breaking everything. Instead you had to exit the Lisp process and somehow arrange to start a new one from a simpler image. Something that can’t be done from within Lisp, making automation of it difficult, which compounded with difficulty in configuration, made the task quite hard. Yet as we saw before, the task would have been required to not have to live with the worst case or non-portable subset of ASDF features.
With ASDF 2, it is easy to upgrade from ASDF 2 to later versions from within Lisp, and not too hard to upgrade from ASDF 1 to ASDF 2 from within Lisp. We support hot upgrade of ASDF and any breakage is a bug that we will do our best to fix. There are still limitations on upgrade, though, most notably the fact that after you upgrade ASDF, you must also reload or upgrade all ASDF extensions.