[Haskell-cafe] RFC: removing “alternative installation methods” from haskell.org (or finding them owners)

Richard Eisenberg lists at richarde.dev
Mon Apr 4 14:47:53 UTC 2022

For what it's worth, I completely agree that installation problems are very bad for students, along at least two axes: students can never seem to install software, and their inability to install software gives them a negative outlook on the course.

If we wish to optimize for students, I think the only way forward is to get something in the e.g. Mac App Store. They know how to install from their system's app store. (I don't know what Windows uses.) Or equivalently their distribution's package manager. Anything beyond that is a struggle. This is not an easy problem to fix! To me, the real solution is to have a fully-featured web IDE. A professor might encourage students to install locally, but with a web IDE backstop, the student's failure to install won't stop them from making progress -- and maybe even the professor delays encouraging the local install by a few weeks, to get students motivated by showing them how fun Haskell is.

Developing a web IDE is beyond the scope of this discussion. But maybe this post suggests that OS-oriented packagers are important and should get a mention on the page. It could be something as simple as "Your system's package manager or app store may also have installers for the Haskell toolchain, maintained by community contributors." at the bottom of the page.


> On Apr 4, 2022, at 9:51 AM, Tom Ellis <tom-lists-haskell-cafe-2017 at jaguarpaw.co.uk> wrote:
> On Mon, Apr 04, 2022 at 01:44:24PM +0000, Keith wrote:
>>> However, I'm a bit puzzled by the experience of your students.  The
>>> Downloads page[1] already contains a link to ghcup which is a
>>> one-click installer (or rather a one-click-to-paste-into-the-terminal
>>> installer) for the popular architectures.  It should work as well on
>>> Windows and Mac as it does on Linux.
>> Sad to say, but even among computer science students there is a
>> world of difference between a '1 click' installer and one line of
>> shell code to run.
> I can certainly believe that, but without more precise details of
> exactly what form that difference takes I can't do much about
> improving the situation.
> Tom
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