[Haskell-cafe] Re: Ubuntu Haskell

Magnus Therning magnus at therning.org
Tue Oct 14 06:25:09 EDT 2008

2008/10/14 Titto Assini <titto at quicquid.org>:
> Hi Magnus,
> you wife must be very advanced if she plans to install xmonad, I read
> the installation docs recently and recoiled in horror :-)

Installing xmonad in Debian Sid is extremely simple, thanks to it
being packaged in the distro.

> To go back to the subject under discussion, I can perfectly see the
> need for having ready made distribution packages for:
> - the haskell compilers
> - cabal
> - a few programs that have end user appeal and that are used beyond
> the haskell community (darcs and xmonad spring to mind)
> But why bother to build binary distributions for the hundreds of
> packages that are just raw ingredients to the haskell development
> process?
> It seems to me that it adds confusion (two ways of installing things
> rather than one) while reducing flexibility and 'freshness' of
> installation.

To me it adds simplicity.  I might be developing an in-house tool at
work, having all the libraries available in distros makes my work

Having libraries available also lowers the threshold for apps written
in Haskell to be included in distros.  An example in point is my tiny
package omnicodec, which relies on dataenc.  Getting both packages
into Debian is more work (for a non-DD like myself) than getting a
single package in.

I also think it reduces confusion for newbies.  Instead of having to
learn yet another packaging tool (Cabal/cabal-install) they can get
full access to Haskell and its libraries using a packaging tool they
already are familiar with.  It lowers the threshhold for people who
want to try out Haskell.

Your comment on "flexibility and freshness" suggests that you come
down close to Arch rather than Debian-stable.  Many others would be
interested in stability and convenience rather than using the bleeding
edge versions of modules.  There are distros that cater for both these
camps, and any other you can think of.  I'm not sure how to use
cabal-install to cater for everyone.

Playing the devil's advocate I'd say that cabal (not the library
Cabal, but the tool cabal in cabal-install) is only needed on systems
with pacakge managers that are broken or completely missing (e.g.
Windows).  As such cabal is a waste of time and shouldn't have been
written at all; on many systems it's of no use, on the ones where it
is useful it's a fix at the wrong level.  Somewhat harsh, and not
completely in line with my own opinion, but it can be argued that way.


Magnus Therning                        (OpenPGP: 0xAB4DFBA4)
magnus@therning.org          Jabber: magnus@therning.org
http://therning.org/magnus         identi.ca|twitter: magthe

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