[arch-haskell] State of Affairs: Summarizing 83 days worth of experience

Magnus Therning magnus at therning.org
Sat Oct 12 07:37:56 UTC 2013

On 07/01/11 18:47, Peter Simons wrote:
> Hi guys,
> Now, based on my experience from maintaining 5% of Hackage, I've arrived
> at the conclusion that our tools and our procedures are quite inadequate
> to get the job done. Maintaining 118 packages in an orderly fashion has
> been really difficult. I wouldn't dream of even trying to maintain 2500+
> packages that way. The most significant problems I've encountered are:
>  1) A lack of coordination. We have made a couple of attempts to define
>     policies, procedures, and responsibilities for this project, but
>     ultimately we never really got anywhere. The net result is that
>     everyone of us is working on whatever interests him, but the others
>     mostly don't even know about it. Consequently, we are inefficient.

This is true to a large extent.  What do you feel is left to define?
But bear
in mind that this is an effort by volunteers, especially "responsibilities"
are always tricky in such projects.

>     For instance, we develop patches for the ArchLinux library, and when
>     they're ready, we throw them away, because we realize way too late
>     that we don't like what they do.

I don't think this is that common in FOSS when people work on their own
without telling people what they are doing.

>     Similarly, we perform updates in [extra], and then we revert them again,
>     because we notice way too late that they break someone else's efforts.

I can only agree on this point, and I'm not sure what can be done to fix it,
if anything

>     It feels like most of the things we've accomplished were being
>     accomplished though individual machismo, rather than through a
>     coordinated team effort.
>  2) Lack of communication. In my experience, it's incredible hard to get

This is again about [extra], I can only say I wish it were better, but I
personally do much about it.

>  3) Inadequate tools. The cabal2arch utility is a great, but in its
>     current shape it cannot re-generate the habs in a fashion that I'd
>     call "automatic". For some packages, such as OpenGL or GLUT, the
>     cabal2arch output is outright broken and doesn't compile. For other
>     packages, such as cabal2arch itself, the generated PKGBUILD compiles
>     but is incorrect anyway, because run-time dependencies are declared
>     as being build-time dependencies. There are several other packages
>     that cannot be generated with cabal2arch, such as haskell-platform,
>     and that need manual editing before they can be published. So far,
>     we have been addressing these problems in a way that feels "ad hoc",
>     to put it mildly. Being a professional software engineer, that makes
>     me quite uncomfortable, because I have the impression that we don't
>     fully understand what it is that we're trying to do.

This is why I say that your experience is invaluable.  Have you raised bugs
for the individual issues here, so that we have them documented in a central

Please provide info of HOW things are broken, i.e. current behaviour and
correct behaviour.

>     Furthermore, we seem to have no functioning tools that help us
>     automate the updating process. My experience so far is that even the
>     tiniest trivial update has a significant potential to break the
>     build of dozens of other packages. Basically, there seem to be
>     trivial updates in Haskell land. Whenever such breakage occurs,
>     there is no easy way to figure out how to remedy the version
>     conflicts. Doing that manually is quite an effort when 118 packages
>     ought to compile, but remedying those conflicts manually for 2500+
>     packages is not going to be possible.

What process are you using?  Both when adding completely new packages
and when
puling in a new version of a package.  What tools are you currently using?
What actions are manual, and what actions are only partially covered by


Magnus Therning                      OpenPGP: 0xAB4DFBA4
email: magnus at therning.org   jabber: magnus at therning.org
twitter: magthe               http://therning.org/magnus

-------------- next part --------------
A non-text attachment was scrubbed...
Name: signature.asc
Type: application/pgp-signature
Size: 262 bytes
Desc: OpenPGP digital signature
URL: <http://www.haskell.org/pipermail/arch-haskell/attachments/20131012/94000201/attachment.sig>

More information about the arch-haskell mailing list