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

Gershom B gershomb at gmail.com
Sun Apr 26 21:16:18 UTC 2020

Hi all. This is largely due to changes I made. I thought I had signposted chocolatey subsuming binary platform installers better, but looking at my message history I hadn’t. So apologies for the switch being more abrupt than I intended. We have gradually been moving the platform away from binary installers and towards wrappers for the ghc team provided bindists. This is on the whole a technically more sound approach that involves less infrastructure, faster turnarounds (so we can keep up with the ghc release schedule), and has fewer rough edges and corner cases. So we moved to ghcup on linux and then later macos. Moving to chocolatey for windows was the next step in this evolution. There are a lot of issues that involved configuring the system that were very difficult to manage with the old NSIS based install infrastructure, and this approach has lifted their burden. (Yes, there are problems getting things to work well with msys2 now, but they’re actually much more straightforward than the issues we had before!)

That said, it is clear that the user experience of chocolatey can be a bit daunting, and it would be nice to wrap it up in something more graphical and ghc-specific to improve things, and also maybe just to improve the install instructions. Maybe progress can be made in this regard, and it would be nice if people who want to improve the windows experience chipped in here.


On April 26, 2020 at 3:55:40 PM, Alec Theriault (alec.theriault at gmail.com) wrote:

I wanted to chime in with a bit of positiveness. I really appreciate the work that Tamar has put into the Chocolatey packages, and when I personally needed to debug a windows-only issue, I found the installation experience to be better than Haskell Platform (which I had previously used when in university). It was clearer to see what I was installing (and I was able to directly manage what I had installed through Chocolatey - including installing other GHC’s and Cabal's). The Chocolatey packages also make setting up CI for windows much simpler.

I can see why the new process is more complicated for university students who are accustomed to more GUIs and probably don’t have Chocolatey installed. Since there is a graphical installer for Chocolatey, couldn’t this mostly be solved by writing up more detailed setup instructions (including all the right GUI installer links and walkthrough) on the course’s home page site? The instructions could be reviewed once at the beginning of every term to make sure they are still accurate. That seems like the sort of thing that could eventually also be put on the official Haskell website.

Packaging software for windows, GHC in particular, is a pretty huge task. The volunteers who maintain this stuff are heroes, and it is disheartening that the only time this difficult work ever gets recognized is when people are angry something isn’t working as expected.  

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