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

Jack Kelly jack at jackkelly.name
Sun Apr 26 23:39:22 UTC 2020

While I did email Tamar off-list, I should probably also thank him
publicly. Packaging is a frustrating and often thankless part of Free
Software development, and I appreciate that I can help a university
teach Haskell to first-year students _at all_.

We do refresh the installation instructions each semester, and re-test
them before each run of the course to make sure they're up-to-date. Even
with direct links to installers and explicit step-by-step instructions,
I have been very surprised by the knots some students have managed to
tie their computers into, and while Chocolatey has given us teething
issues it also gives us a single set of commands to install
GHC/cabal-install/MSYS2 and a decent text editor.

-- Jack

Alec Theriault <alec.theriault at gmail.com> writes:

> 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.
> Alec
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