[Haskell-cafe] Minimal Haskell Platform

Roman Cheplyaka roma at ro-che.info
Tue Apr 15 08:45:22 UTC 2014

* Simon Hengel <sol at typeful.net> [2014-04-15 13:02:38+0800]
> > Would it be worthwhile to create a "Minimal Haskell Platform" to
> > create a truly common platform that everybody would be happy using?
> I think most Haskell developers use a reasonably recent version of GHC
> (that would currently still be 7.6.3 for me) and the latest version of
> cabal-install.  Everything else can be installed with cabal-install.
> So yes, I think we should just have an easy way to get that minimal
> setup (+ most importantly don't recommend something to beginners that we
> don't use ourself).
> Where would something like the HP actually make sense?  For stuff that
> has external dependencies that are not easily  installable with
> cabal-install (like curses bindings, SSL support, etc.).  We have none
> of this in the HP.  So I think currently we just have additional costs,
> but no benefits (+ we harm innovation by arbitrarily "endorsing" random
> packages).


As Tillmann notes, HP is indispensable on Windows, but that is a side effect.
Indeed, HP as a simple way to conveniently install the bits that are otherwise
hard to install makes perfect sense.

However, nowadays most attention goes not to that, but to choosing ordinary
cabal packages to be bundled with HP. I see little value in that.

As a way to ensure the "installability" of packages, Stackage now does a far
greater job than HP by:

- having much wider selection of packages, and making it almost trivial to
  incorporate new ones;
- constantly building packages and running tests;
- notifying maintainers about broken packages and packages with restrictive
  upper bounds.

In other words, it ensures that Stackage packages are installable at any time
with cabal. (Well, strictly speaking, there may be a delay between when a
problem is reported by Michael and when it's fixed by the maintainer.)

Apart from that, HP "arbitrarily endorses" its packages and forces them into
stability mode. Whether it is a good thing or not is another argument and
depends on one's perspective. I know that some people find it important (and 
I'm well aware of their reasoning).

Personally, with my hats of

* an open source libraries developer/maintainer
* a personal Haskell user
* a commercial Haskell user

on, I don't care about HP. The only time when I remember about it is when I
tell novices how they can "install Haskell". But again, this has nothing to do
with the bundled cabal packages, only with the way of installing ghc/cabal/etc.

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