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

Anthony Clayden anthony_clayden at clear.net.nz
Mon May 11 02:21:56 UTC 2020

Thanks Irfon-Kim for your research, but you're making this a lot harder
than it needs to be. I'll try to redress the balance -- not that I'm
claiming it's Windows-friendly.

> Yes, you need to know several magic things to go this route.


You don't need to install any extra tools, nor use a command line, nor
have a bar of chocolatey.

> The first is to have that link that Ben Gamari provided in the first
place, which is not an obvious thing at all.

I think Ben gave the wrong link[**], and it's not obvious why you'd go
to such an unfriendly page at all. Should be:
https://www.haskell.org/ghc/download_ghc_8_10_1.html, section Windows
64-bit (x86_64).

This is to download ghc-8.10.1-x86_64-unknown-mingw32.tar.xz
it's not the 'unknown' that tells you it's Windows, it's the 'w' in

I don't know why you're downloading a `.lz`: the `.tar.xz` is a format
that Windows Explorer understands [***]; just use Explorer to find
that in the Downloads folder; it needs several clicks to unpack it,
but by all means unpack into the Downloads folder; navigate to `\bin`;
there is ghci.exe; double-click. (No need to set your path, it'll
default to `\bin`; no need to call from a command line.) Indeed you
can copy ghci.exe and paste as shortcut on your desktop/taskbar; set
the 'Start in' as the `\bin` folder.

Now fair warning: this is only the ghci executable/base compiler; no
libraries/packages; no cabal, no stackage. But at least a beginner can
sit at a GHCi prompt and enter some expressions; they can call `:edit`
to create a `.hs` module. They can `:set editor` for a more
programmer-friendly editor.

[**] How did I get to that download link? (Just to show there's
nothing up my sleeves)

* haskell.org -> Downloads -> Minimal Installers

* -> 'the GHC compiler' in the section's opening sentence

* you're at haskell.org/ghc/; latest release -> download

* scan down the page for Windows

I'm saying to ignore all that stuff about 'proper Haskell
distribution'; 'Distribution packages' (not available for Windows).
For a beginner it's all cruft; they can figure it out after they're
using Haskell.

Really this could all be a lot easier and a lot better explained and a
lot more in-your-face for a beginner. I continue to take away the
impression that ghc doesn't want beginners.

[***] I agree a `.xz` needs 7-zip to unpack. I don't think I went so
far as to obtain that first; I think it came with my Windows (8.1)
install. Perhaps later Windows have it better integrated(?)
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