[Haskell-cafe] When did it become so hard to installHaskellonWindows?

Jack Kelly jack at jackkelly.name
Sat Apr 25 10:00:19 UTC 2020

Dear Tamar,

Thanks for your response and suggestions. I'll respond pointwise:

> What made it remarkably tough for students to set up on their machines?

* The big one was students who installed ghc without msys. Installing msys
  afterwards does not make GHC aware of it. Is there an equivalent of
  dpkg-reconfigure for chocolatey?

* Some students who were repeating the course had old
  %appdata%/cabal/config files, which meant that programs failed to copy

* Some students somehow managed to wind up with cabal-install installed
  but not GHC.

* Some students somehow managed to wind up with cabal-install and ghc
  installed, but not on %path%.

* Some students hit the following error when starting GHCi:

GHCi, version 8.8.3: https://www.haskell.org/ghc/ :? for help
<command line>: user specified .o/.so/.DLL could not be loaded (addDLL: pthread or dependencies not loaded. (Win32 error 5))
Whilst trying to load: (dynamic) pthread

* Some students seem to have computers that are straight-up haunted.

* There were also a number of minor issues around spaces in paths, or
  possibly non-Latin characters in paths, or non-Latin system
  locale. Many of these will happen regardless of installation method,
  so it's not fair to lay them at Chocolatey's feet.

Unfortunately, I can't give you more detailed information than
this. This semester was tougher than usual because of the remote
troubles with COVID-19, and on top of that many of the students who had the
really cursed problems stopped responding before we could get to the
bottom of things. Perhaps they dropped the course?

> You can still use Haskell-dev if you want older GHCs. Just install it and then
> Downgrade the ghc.

I was not aware that this was possible. Thanks for telling me.

> I would be quite interested to figure out what the pain points were.
> Surely if they are new to Windows they would have come from a platform where
> they know what a package manager is.

Not necessarily. These are first-year CS students, some of whom have
never programmed before, although they're computer-literate. I have
personally seen students who ask questions like "what's a terminal?" in
the first lab session pass the course with very good marks.

> Would providing a binary to automate the steps work for you? I have been reluctant to
> do so because I don’t want to hide what the installer is doing.

I think this would be extremely helpful.

> And to be clear, if it because you don’t want to use a commandline and want an installer
> Chocolatey also provides a GUI overlay, It is after all. A bog standard package manager.
> https://github.com/chocolatey/ChocolateyGUI/releases/download/0.17.0/ChocolateyGUI.msi
> Is the latest release. It has the familiar “Click and installer asks for UAC and magic happens in background”.

I was not aware that this existed. It may help, thanks for showing it to

Thanks again.


-- Jack

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