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

steve at donacobi.us steve at donacobi.us
Sun Apr 26 15:47:38 UTC 2020

I think the comments regarding users' proficiency with Chocolatey or PowerShell or whatever are beside the point. The truth is that *nobody* expects that anyone would need to be familiar with those tools in order to install software on Windows. As an example of what I'm talking about, consider Microsoft Visual Studio. This is a big, complex piece of software. And, obviously, it's an application that's used by software developers, rather than ordinary end users. During installation, it runs multiple PowerShell and Cmd scripts, and, for all I know, uses Chocolatey under the hood as well. The point is, I don't have to care about any of that. I install it the same way I install any other software in Windows: I click a few buttons and make a few checkbox selections, and it just runs*.

Asking Windows users to install software in any other way is like telling Linux users that the *only* way they can upgrade to a newer version of Bash is to use a GUI installer.

I understand perfectly well the issue with resource constraints preventing the creation of a better experience for Windows users. That's okay. The same is true for other software (and for porting software in the other direction, too). And I think it's safe to assume that Microsoft has a few more resources at its disposal to support this than the Haskell community does. So you just need to be honest about it, and state up front that there isn't a simple, seamless way to install the Haskell Platform in Windows at this time, but if you want to install it anyway, here's what you need to do.

-Steve Schafer


From: Haskell-Cafe <haskell-cafe-bounces at haskell.org> on behalf of Ben Gamari <ben at smart-cactus.org>
Sent: Sunday, April 26, 2020 10:46 AM
To: Anthony Clayden <anthony_clayden at clear.net.nz>; haskell-cafe at haskell.org <haskell-cafe at haskell.org>
Subject: Re: [Haskell-cafe] When did it become so hard to install Haskell onWindows?

Anthony Clayden <anthony_clayden at clear.net.nz> writes:


>> I would ask anyone who feels that GHC development is exclusionary to please be in
> touch; I am very interested to know how we can improve.
> I'd like to cite as evidence the survey results Francesco links to:
> I don't think I ever got invited to contribute -- where would that have been?
> There wasn't an invite on the Hugs-users list.

For what it's worth, there was an invitation to respond to the 2019
State of Haskell Survey was sent to this very list [1]. However, I
believe there was only one such announcement so it is understandable
that it could be missed.

> Note I don't use Reddit because I'm not a brogrammer.
> The survey is kinda self-fulfilling: most people don't use GHC on Windows,
> because it's too hard to install.
Indeed the fact that most of our users use Linux or Darwin poses a
significant challenge for Windows support. We often only learn of
regressions on Windows quite late as a result.

However, of all of the problems with Windows that we might have, issues
with installation instructions should be avoidable. It sounds like your
primary concern is that we recommend Chocolatey on
https://haskell.org/platform [2]?

It would be helpful if you could describe what your precise objections
to Chocolatey are; I'll admit I'm not familiar enough with it to know
why someone might prefer to avoid it. I sounds like there may be two
possible reasons:

 * it requires elevated permissions
 * it requires PowerShell, which the user may not be familiar with

The download page [2] is trying to strike a delicate balance: On one
hand we want as few options as possible to avoid confusion; on the other
we do want to be accomodating to user preferences. Perhaps we could
amend the text to say something like:

    The recommended way to get started with Haskell on Windows is by
    using using [Chocolatey] to install `ghc` and `cabal-install` (users
    not interested in Chocolatey should refer to the [alternate Windows
    instructions]). Further details for
    Chocolatey usage are available [here].

    Users should follow the instructions at [haskellstack.org] to
    install `stack`.

    To get started perform these steps:

    1. Configure [Chocolatey] on your machine.

    2. If upgrading from the old-style `haskell-platform` installer, clean
       the cabal configuration by running:

       cabal user-config init -f

       Then uninstall prior versions of the platform.

    3. At an elevated command prompt, run:

       choco install haskell-dev

Where [alternate Windows instructions] would describe installation from
a binary distribution. Perhaps this would be an improvement over the
status quo?

> GHC is exclusionary against casual/recreational Haskellers (who are
> more likely on Windows) and those more interested in using it to
> explore PL Theory.

This is sad to hear and a trend that we should try hard to suppress. One
of Haskell's greatest strengths is its diversity of users and


- Ben

[1] https://mail.haskell.org/pipermail/haskell-cafe/2019-November/131633.html
[2] https://www.haskell.org/platform/windows.html#windows
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