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

wren ng thornton wren at freegeek.org
Sun Apr 5 17:00:59 EDT 2009

FFT wrote:
> John Dorsey wrote:
> > Once it's installed and working, GHC's a very decent compiler.
> My general null hypothesis is, as Alec Baldwin put it, that a loser is
> a loser, or a buggy project is buggy.
> If GHC is robust overall (which I'm yet to find out), why is the
> installation so broken?

Part of the problem is that GHC 6.6 is the last version that supported 
bootstrapping. Some of the changes in 6.8 broke that, and so the longer 
it goes the harder bootstrapping/installation becomes. It's a major bug 
that many people would like fixed; I don't know the details, but I'm 
sure the GHC mailing lists[1] or #ghc would have more to say about it. 
There are also some issues about libeditline which is used for the 
interactive debugger, and has a lot to do with Linux vs BSD nonsense.

Once these two issues are dealt with, the rest is smooth sailing. As the 
flagship Haskell compiler a lot of work has been invested in 
optimizations and the general running of GHC. Installation is less 
glorious work, so less academic and corporate investment has been paid 
to that part of things.

Since most of the community already has a GHC installed, the 
bootstrapping issue isn't devastating to those already in the loop. 
Consequently, a lot of work has been done on making the post-compiler 
development cycle more robust with projects like Cabal, Hackage, 
cabal-install, and the Haskell Platform. These projects are still under 
rapid development, but they are fairly stable and they make it very 
friendly to install libraries--- which greatly speeds up development.


Live well,

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