[Haskell-cafe] high probability of installation problems and quality of the glorious implementation

John Dorsey haskell at colquitt.org
Sun Apr 5 15:35:43 EDT 2009


> I'm still learning Haskell and also evaluating whether I want to use
> the language in my work.

I've been learning and using GHC in spare hours for several years.  I've
had challenges installing it on MacOSX-ppc, and on RHEL4; kind folks on
irc and the mailing lists have always been very helpful, and if you
haven't gone to either for help it's strongly recommended.  Bring as
much detail as you can about your environment and the errors you're

I should add that a lot of the great code available for Haskell is in
the form of libraries on the hackage site.  It's worth the time to get
cabal-install working before doing anything else; many of those libraries
will then install without a fuss.  But the quality of packages varies
(naturally), and the cabal tools, while handy, have their quirks.  When in
doubt, ask what packages people like, and ask for help before you're

There's reason to think that installation issues are about to improve
somewhat, with the release of "The Haskell Platform" (THP).  Take a
minute to read about it if you haven't heard of it.  THP promises to
provide installation packages for common platforms, bundling the
compiler, cabal-install, and a set of libraries with compatible versions
and with active support.  It's a small set for now, THP is in its

Before you give up, consider using GHC 6.8.* for the time being, since
it sounds like ubuntu's installer works for that.  I think a lot of
folks are still using 6.8, and earlier versions, quite happily.  If you
do end up giving up on Haskell because of installation frustrations,
come back in a few months and see if things are better.

Once it's installed and working, GHC's a very decent compiler.  Naturally,
it's not as mature as GCC.  There are outstanding bugs and corner cases
where performance isn't what it should be.  From where I'm sitting, it
seems to be improving in all those areas.

There are several individuals and companies in this community who are
using GHC, in production, with commercial success.

Overall, challenges with the toolset have been less of a hurdle for me
than mastering the language.  I hope you are able to spend some time
using it.


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