[Haskell-cafe] Cabal

Philippos Apolinarius phi500ac at yahoo.ca
Sun Nov 8 22:29:12 EST 2009

I made small improvements in the Small Japi Binding, and asked how to make it available. I received a few private messages advising me to build and package the library using a tool called cabal. Since I have used installation tools for PLT, R  and LaTeX libraries, I thought cabal was something similar. However, I noticed that there are a lot of complaints against cabal.  Therefore, I decided to install cabal, and try it. It seems that it is easier to install packages by hand than using cabal.  Here is a typical cabal session:

D:\ghc\ghcapi>cabal update
Downloading the latest package list from hackage.haskell.org

D:\ghc\ghcapi>cabal install mkcabal
Resolving dependencies...
Downloading pcre-light-0.3.1...
Configuring pcre-light-0.3.1...
Downloading readline-
Configuring readline-
cabal: Error: some packages failed to install:
mkcabal-0.4.2 depends on readline- which failed to install.
pcre-light-0.3.1 failed during the configure step. The exception was:
exit: ExitFailure 1
readline- failed during the configure step. The exception was:
exit: ExitFailure 1

As one can see, it is much more difficult to use than R installation tools, or MikTeX installation tools.  If cabal is so difficult, why use it? I am sure that I have done something very stupid mistake, but believe me, a lot of people is trying to use cabal and failing. I am not  sure that it is a good idea to distribute libraries using cabal. However, this is irrelevant, because I am sure that creating a package with cabal is well beyond my powers. It is much easier to write a complete JAPI library, than packaging it in cabal.

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