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

Ben Gamari ben at smart-cactus.org
Sun Apr 26 22:35:51 UTC 2020

I'll give my perspective below. Not being intimately familiar with the
Platform's Windows packaging effort, some of this may not be spot-on.
However, I do think I have some context that 

lennart spitzner <hexagoxel at hexagoxel.de> writes:

> On 25/04/2020 11:20, lonetiger at gmail.com wrote:
>> Yes, this was changed recently as it provides a way to manage all 3 components individually.
>> As in should you want to you can have any number of versions of GHC installed at the same time.
>> By decoupling the components it allows for quicker updates and releases and for a better user experience.
>> Platform was for instance still using GHC 8.6.5 and cabal 3.0.
>> For the record these packages aren’t new, they’re only now being recommended.


Having looked at the Chocolatey installation instructions, I will agree
that they are a bit rough, particularly in the case of a user without
administrative access. However, the benefits of piggy-backing on
Chocolatey seem significant:

 * having worked on projects which were locked to a particular GHC
   version, I can attest that multiple side-by-side compilers is a need
   that many industrial users certainly have.

 * our previous Windows installer infrastructure [1] is essentially
   unmaintained. It would take time and effort on the part of someone to
   bring it into a working state. Moreover, even when it "worked" it had
   serious issues (%PATH% issues were a constant headache, the msys
   installation could be easily broken by the user), was not built on
   the MSI installer subsystem officially sanctioned by Microsoft, and
   imposed a significant maintenance overhead (building a functional
   distribution required no small amount of luck)

 * the Windows developer community seems to have largely consolidated
   around nuGet and Chocolatey; following this trend seems wise given
   how tricky (proper) packaging for Windows tends to be

My sense is that Chocolatey is the right approach here. We simply need
to make it more accessible. After a long discussion with Tamar, I think
we have a plan that could move us in this direction. I have documented
this plan in #18104 [2].

While it's possible that Tamar or I could get to working on this
eventually, it would be much better if we could get help from the
broader community since there is little GHC-specific knowledge
necessary. In general we have precious few developer-hours looking
at GHC Windows issues; it would be a shame to have to spend them on
packaging issues.

If you are interesting in contributing please comment on the ticket.


- Ben

[1] https://github.com/haskell/haskell-platform/blob/master/windows-platform.sh
[2] https://gitlab.haskell.org/ghc/ghc/issues/18104

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