[Haskell-cafe] Re: ANNOUNCE: Utrecht Haskell Compiler (UHC) -- first release

Richard O'Keefe ok at cs.otago.ac.nz
Tue Apr 21 01:09:23 EDT 2009

On 21 Apr 2009, at 4:52 pm, Jules Bean wrote:
> The point I was making, which is scarcely important enough to bother  
> explaining again, is that having the same *default* as other  
> software is a virtue.

That point is mistaken.

I have no idea how many people are unable to use that default,
but there are lots of people at this University in my situation.
A default which means we can't install stuff is a default that
I cannot regard with happiness, and which I cannot comprehend
anyone contemplating with complacency.

One of the suggestions I have made is that an installer
could/should investigate whether it *can* install in the
"standard" place (since ghc on my Mac is in /bin, not /usr/local/bin,
and since I certainly didn't put it there, I wonder just how standard
a standard place is), and if it *can't*, instead of failing miserably,
it should *out of the box* *without recompiling from sources* let the
user put it wherever it needs to go.

This is compatible with the "default" on all systems where the
default would actually _work_, while being _useful_ on systems
where it wouldn't.

It shouldn't be necessary to point out that the people least able
to install in /usr/local are by and large going to be the people
least able to build from sources, so saying "build from sources if
you can't install in a standard place" would not be user-friendly.

> In point of fact, I'm sure that a larger proportion of haskell users  
> have their own machine than don't.

That's the wrong question.

In addition to the several machines in my office, and the departmental
laptop, I _do_ have several machines of my own.  But the mere fact of
possessing my own machines does NOT mean that I am able to install
stuff on the machines I spend most of my time using.

Some of the right questions are
  - how many potential <whatever> users would need to have
    <whatever> installed on _some_ machine they do NOT have
    administrator access to?
  - if people find Mac and Windows installers that show you where
    something is going to be put and offer you the chance to change
    it acceptable, why exactly would that be unacceptable under
    Linux or Solaris?
  - since we know install-anywhere binary releases are possible,
    and since we know that an installer _can_ probe to see whether
    installation in /usr/local (or any other "standard" place) is
    possible, why not do it?

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