[Haskell-cafe] Re: binding to C libraries on Windoww

Jeffrey Scofield dynasticon at mac.com
Sun Dec 6 15:05:58 EST 2009

Andrew Coppin <andrewcoppin at btinternet.com> writes:

> I guess there's a difference in culture here.
> On Unix, it is usual to distribute programs as source, and build from
> source. (I guess in part because each one of the 12,657,234 different
> Unix variants is slightly different, and the program needs to work
> differently.)
> On Windows, it is usual to distribute everything as compiled
> binaries.

I think the real cultural difference is that you aren't a user, you're
a prospective Haskell developer, as others have said.  Developers
pretty much have to install tools (like compilers and preprocessors)
and have to work with source code.

Traditionally, Unix *comes with* thousands of tools that are useful
to developers.  Windows traditionally came with none, at least
none that I was ever able to find.

Since many of the traditional Unix tools are available free, it
makes sense that somebody would want to port them to Windows
*for doing development*.  It's not so much a Unix emulation as
a solution to the lack of native Windows tools.  Of course this
makes sense especially to somebody who has gotten used to
the Unix tools (such as myself).  I would never try to *develop*
seriously under Windows using just what comes preinstalled.

Users of Unix (not developers) are just as used to getting
compiled binaries as users of Windows.  A good example of
this in today's world is Mac OS X (or the iPhone, which is
a small Unix system in essence).  In earlier times, I assure
you that users of Solaris (say) didn't expect to get a source
release of Oracle and compile it up from scratch.  There
were indeed a few different supported versions of Solaris
(different releases and hardware platforms), but this was
Sun's and/or Oracle's problem.

The open source movement has complicated this picture
(mostly for the good, from the user's standpoint), but this
just makes more people into developers in essence.  This
is the price you pay for getting stuff for free.  It seems to
me it doesn't make a lot of sense to complain about this.
If you don't want to be a developer you can usually find
something to buy that will be precompiled for you, or
you can hire somebody.

This is not to say that on a given day it isn't frustrating
when you can't get something to compile, especially
if it's just a tool you need to compile something else.
But this is why developers are so wealthy, they have the
fortitude to work through these problems.  (Ha ha.)


Jeff Scofield

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