[Haskell-cafe] Linspire/Freespire Core OS Team and Haskell

Clifford Beshers cbeshers at san.rr.com
Sat May 13 13:28:56 EDT 2006

The OS team at Linspire, Inc. would like to announce that we are 
standardizing on Haskell as our preferred language for core OS development.

We are redoing a bunch of our infrastructure using Haskell as our common 
standard language. Our first task is redoing our Debian package builder 
(aka autobuilder) in Haskell.  Other tools such as ISO builders, package 
dependency checkers are in progress. The goal is to make a really tight 
simple set of tools that will let developers contribute to Freespire, 
based on Debian tools whenever possible. Our hardware detector, 
currently in OCaml, is on the block to be rewritten as well.

There are four of us using Haskell, all CCed on this message.  All of us 
have been using functional languages for quite some time.  At Linspire, 
our choices have been OCaml and Haskell. David Fox wrote the hardware 
detector in OCaml and is now porting it to Haskell.  Jeremy Shaw has 
been doing various utilities in Haskell for several years.  Sean Meiners 
recently wrote an application for managing his recipe collection and is 
now hooked.  I am porting our CD build procedure from OCaml to Haskell. 

We are interested in many other uses of Haskell.  The recent discussion 
about Haskell as a shell interests greatly, for example, as we have all 
suffered through years of bash code.  We'd also like to make some 
Haskell bindings for Qt and KDE, though at the moment we don't have a 
good plan to tackle that problem efficiently.

To date, Linspire (formerly Lindows) has focused on polishing Linux for 
the consumer market.  I mentioned Freespire, above.  We announced 
Freespire recently (www.freespire.org).  Essentially it is a more open, 
developer friendly version of Linspire.  
http://freespire.org/about/vision and http://freespire.org/support/faqs 
have good overviews.  Access through apt, open-source CNR client and 
many other good things.

I mention Freespire because some of our colleagues were concerned that 
using Haskell would isolate us from the larger community of developers 
and make it hard to find new employees skilled in Haskell, should we 
need to.  From our perspective, functional programming makes us more 
effective and we think that getting even a few people who know Haskell 
hacking with us is a better combination than lots of Perl and bash.  I'm 
not sure I expect anyone on this list to disagree, but still I'd love to 
hear your thoughts on the subject.

Also, Linspire is based on Debian. We've talked a little with John 
Goerzen who announced his missingH library here a while back.  We've 
imported it and expect to pass updates back to him as well as any other 
libraries and tools that he would be interested in includng in the 
Debian archive.  Also, it seems there are quite a few other libraries 
out there which are either not debianized or stale.  We are looking into 
helping the folks on the debian-haskell list with that, if possible, 
documenting and automating wherever possible.

Clifford Beshers <clifford.beshers at linspire.com>
OS Team Lead
Linspire, Inc.

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