[Haskell] haskell communities worthy of academic study?

Matthew William Cox matt at mattcox.ca
Sat Mar 31 22:11:23 EDT 2007

On Sun, 1 Apr 2007 02:28:33 +0100
"Claus Reinke" <claus.reinke at talk21.com> wrote:

>   But then I looked into the repository, with its layers on layers of
>   build systems, source formats, deprecation warnings, directory
>   structure fragments, todo logs, broken builds resulting either from
>   OS-tools advancing and playing havoc with the built-in assumptions
>   of fragile build configurations or from multiple, partially
>   completed, mutually incompatible heart-liver-and-lung transplants
>   supporting the newest language extensions (which of course were all
>   needed to build the compiler branch supporting said features, and
>   whose documentation tended to be spread over user manual, API
>   comments, mailing list threads, research papers, plus half a dozen
>   different Wikis and ticket trackers), supported by often outdated
>   documentation in a never-ending variety of formats, and I knew I had
>   stumbled onto a goldmine.

I hate to say this, but the build process for GHC is one place where
the Ocaml guys have us soundly beaten.

A little over a month ago, I was in the position of having to build a
parallel simulation to run on a cluster, and I had a week to do it. The
problem was, I didn't know what cluster I'd be on when I started it.
Itanium? Opteron? HP-UX? Linux? IRIX? I wanted to use a functional
language, just for the sake of my own productivity.

I chose Objective Caml because its compiler system feels easier to
build. It built on every cluster I tried. I had enough trouble trying
to get GHC to build on Mac OS X back in the 6.4 days.

I'm not in a position to say this for certain, but GHC seems more
complex than the Ocaml toolset. I would love it if GHC ran magically
out of the box on any platform. If I could download a simple src
tarball and compile it brazenly on whatever system I end up on. If I
could take GHC with me anywhere.

One thing that feels like a step in the right direction is the native
codegen. Not having to trust a generalized, but still evil, perl script
to do its job correctly in concert with whatever local c compiler is a
good thing. I had nagging fears of my project dying with 6 hours to the
deadline because HP's software engineers made a small change to gcc
that generates minutely different function epilogues in 1% of cases and
made the mangler, well, mangle.

GHC wants to be free!

Matthew Cox

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