[Haskell-cafe] Cleaning up the Debian act (report from the trenches)

Mads Lindstrøm mads_lindstroem at yahoo.dk
Mon Aug 25 12:10:41 EDT 2008


Ketil Malde wrote:
> I've had an interested user, who tried to get one of my programs to
> run on a Debian machine - running Debian Etch, released a couple of
> months ago.  Here are some of the hurdles stumbled upon in the
> process:

Debian Etch were released in April 8th, 2007. 16 months ago. Hardly "a
copule of months ago". See
http://www.debian.org/News/2007/20070408.en.html . Sure, there have been
updates since then, but they are mainly concerned with security and
drivers for new hardware.

> 1. Etch comes with ghc-6.6, and that didn't work with my .cabal file.
> 2. ghc-6.8.3, presumably the binary snapshots, didn't work, neither
>    in i386 nor in x86_64 incarnation.
> 3. ghc 6.8.1-i386 appears to work, but some of the dependencies failed
>    to compile (tagsoup, in this case)
> 4. A precompiled (by me), statically linked binary refuses to run with
>    a message of "FATAL: kernel too old".
> Granted, not all of this is our fault, but it won't help users to
> start charging the windmills of Debian conservativism.  We really need
> to make this process smoother, and ideally, provide debs for Etch
> backports.
> I'm not sure how to go about any of this, beyond debianizing my own
> packages.  But that's why I'm telling you. :-)

There are several options:

1) Use the testing or unstable branch of Debian. They got newer
packages. Testing (aka. Lenny) has GHC 6.8.2
http://packages.debian.org/lenny/ghc6 .

2) Compile GHC yourself. You can even compile and install GHC (and most
Haskell software) on a dedicated user account. In this way you avoid
messing up you Debian installation if something goes wrong.

3) If testing/unstable is too risky, then use backports to stable. See
http://www.backports.org/dokuwiki/doku.php . Unfortunately, they do not
have GHC in their repository. Maybe somebody else has. 

4) Wait for the next release of Debian. It should not be too far into
the future, as the next release is now frozon
http://www.debian.org/News/weekly/2008/08/ . But with a project like
Debian that releases when ready, not on a deadline, you never quite know
when the next release will be there.

> -k


Mads Lindstrøm

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