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

Jason Dagit dagit at codersbase.com
Wed Aug 27 01:58:57 EDT 2008

On Mon, Aug 25, 2008 at 9:10 AM, Mads Lindstrøm
<mads_lindstroem at yahoo.dk> wrote:
> Hi
> 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 .

I'd stay away from 6.8.2 if I were you.  It has at least one annoying
bug that was fixed in 6.8.3.  The one I'm thinking of is
getSymbolicLinkStatus returning bogus mtimes on some 32bit platforms.

> 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.

I find with Debian this is the way to go.  Install your system and use
Debian's packages for everything, and then install your own copy of
anything for which you care what version you're running.

Not everyone will like this option, but I find it's a decent balance
between using what Debian provides and getting the satisfaction of
using the versions of things I care about.


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