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

Sven Panne svenpanne at gmail.com
Mon May 11 07:08:10 UTC 2020

Am Mo., 11. Mai 2020 um 04:24 Uhr schrieb Anthony Clayden <
anthony_clayden at clear.net.nz>:

> [...] You don't need to install any extra tools, nor use a command line, nor have a bar of chocolatey.
> Actually, you *do* need to install an extra tool to unpack xz files.

> [...] 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 [...]
>  The Windows Explorer understands it only if you have e.g. 7z or WinZip

> [***] 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(?)
> You probably have remnants of 7z or WinZip on your disk after updating
from previous Windows versions. I very much doubt that a fresh Windows 10
installation has the slightest clue what an xz file is.

Let's be honest: Everything which is not an MSI, or a self-installing .exe
or a ZIP-file (for position-independent stuff) is a ridiculous, totally
non-standard way of installing SW on Windows, scaring away tons of
potential users. Small obstacles like this should not be underestimated,
there are impressive numbers from e.g. the usability/success of web sites:
Every user interaction, like a click or even just scrolling down the page,
makes you lose a magnitude of your potential customers. 2 clicks + 1
scrolling? => 0.1% of your customers left...

Let's look at a few other programming languages on Windows:

   * Python: Fat download button, leading quickly to a choice of
self-installing .exe, ZIP or a web-based installer. And this was just
   * Racket: Again a self-installing .exe, 2 klicks away from the fat
download button on the start page. Hey, you even get a decent IDE with that!
   * Rust: You are only a few clicks away from having rustup on your disk.
   * Ruby: You are quickly on rubyinstaller.org with a choice of
self-installing .exes.
   * Perl: You can quickly choose between two installers, e.g.
http://strawberryperl.com/ with MSI or ZIP
   * Clang: Only a few clicks away from a self-installing .exe.
   * Node.js: An MSI is only few clicks away.

Does any other language require you to install tools to unpack alien
archive formats or even a full-fledged package manager? No... It is totally
fine that there are more complicated and more flexible ways to install a
language for the power user, but that's optional. What is *not* optional is
an easy, native way of installation for the casual user.

For my part, I would already be happy if stack would get a more prominent
place and be promoted as *the* way to install Haskell. But the stackage
releases would need to follow the GHC releases a bit more quickly then
(there is still no stackage with GHC 8.10 :-( ).
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