how to checkout proper submodules

Johan Tibell johan.tibell at
Wed Jun 5 07:12:17 CEST 2013

On Tue, Jun 4, 2013 at 7:05 PM, Austin Seipp <aseipp at> wrote:

> I know we had this discussion sometime recently I think, but can
> someone *please* explain why we are in this situation of half
> submodules, half random-floating-git-repository-checkouts? It's
> terrible. I'm frankly surprised we've even been doing it this long,
> over a year or more? It is literally the worst of submodules, and
> free-standing-repositories put together, with none of the advantages
> of either.

This is my understanding of what happened: we started out with only plain
repos. This avoids some of the pitfalls of submodules and we believed it
was the least disruptive workflow (when switching form darcs) for the core
contributors. Eventually we needed GHC to track upstream releases of
libraries (e.g. Cabal) instead of jus tracking HEAD, which it did before.
To achieve that, we switched the libraries that GHC just tracks (e.g.
Cabal) to submodules. The libraries maintained by GHC HQ (e.g. base) we're
still kept as plain repos to avoid disrupting anyones workflow.

The latest git release has improved submodules support some so if we now
thing the benefits of submodules outweigh the costs we can discuss if we
want to change to policy. I don't want to make that decision for other GHC
developers that spend much more time on GHC than I (e.g. SPJ). Their
productivity is more important than any inconveniences the lack of
consistent use of submodules might cause me.
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