A future for the Windows packaging situation.

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A future for the Windows packaging situation.

Hécate
Dear GHC devs, dear maintainers,

Following a discussion that took place on #ghc, I wish to spread it to
the whole mailing-list, in order to receive some feedback,
and plan for the future now that it has become clear that the present is
rather bleak.

As some of you may have seen from the long threads in haskell-cafe@,
countless steps of various difficulty for Windows users
(excluding power-users) need to be taken in order to have a proper
working GHC / Haskell installation on their machine.
Moreover, some defiance against Chocolatey has come to our ears, due to
the mailing-list registration form that appears
when one desires to download this package manager. I shall speak for
myself by saying that I do not wish the that the Windows
Haskell developers need to become a special combo of Chocolatey
maintainers and Windows power users.
Some GNU/Linux distributions such as Exherbo have made this their creed,
the major difference being that they actually give
the tools to make such a thing possible.

The point of my email to you all is the following: I suggest that
Haskell.org, the 501(c)(3) established in NY which, If I am not mistaken,
holds the funds from various individual donations, the Amazon Smile
programme and Software in the Public Interest grants,
hires a company to establish a strong technological basis regarding
Windows packaging. I am not talking of delegating the maintaining task
to an external entity, but to provide the foundations upon which
volunteers will be able to keep things running.
Training in such matters would also be beneficial, so that newcomers can
learn on the spot how to best interact with this.

Their contract would involve the initial setup of CI tasks able to
produce MSIX packages, while the people in charge of the haskell.org
landing page would ease the user experience by providing clearer ways to
install GHC on various platforms.
Ideally we could have a GUI to install libraries easily, like many
GNU/Linux package managers offer.

That being said, I was also suggested the idea of a grant and/or
sponsorship. What we need is less a capitalist framework around that task
and more of an incentive to invest a serious amount of work and quality
so that it becomes, at last, the non-issue it should have always been.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the GNU/Linux and macOS
users *cannot* hold the Windows users to the same standards in
terms of CLI usability. I cannot weigh in my opinion on the most recent
iterations of PowerShell, but Windows XP's cmd.exe was
excruciating, to say the least.

Now, I know some of you will prefer to have this task handled by
competent volunteers, but I am under the moral obligation to say
that expecting salvation and better tomorrows from people who have yet
to make their presence known in the thirty years of existence
of our dear language, is at best mild delusion, at worse folly that will
only widen the gap between what is needed to get Haskell up and
running smoothly on the Windows platform and the average skill of
Windows users.

I am not suggesting that my email is The True Way to follow so that
everything is fixed forever,
and if we can, as a community, arrive to some satisfying workflow that
would benefit rather than alienate
our Windows user base, this would would be wonderful.


Thank you for reading until the end.

Cheers,
Hécate.

PS: I am in no way trying to berate anyone for their implied
incompetence, or imply that Windows users are stupid and/or
technologically impaired.
This would be misinterpreting my words and lead nowhere but to another
OS war on another mailing-list.
PPS: I am serious. Please stay on-topic.
PPPS: I hold no share, no money or any other form of capital in any
Windows packaging company we might or might not end up hiring for the task.
I am speaking of experience, for my company used an external contractor
to work on our landing (non-product) page, while all hands were on deck
to support the product development effort. This allowed us to have a
strong foundation to iterate on, and bought us countless hours of
development time.

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Re: A future for the Windows packaging situation.

David Macek
On Wed, May 13, 2020 at 12:56 PM Hécate <[hidden email]> wrote:
> As some of you may have seen from the long threads in haskell-cafe@,
> countless steps of various difficulty for Windows users
> (excluding power-users) need to be taken in order to have a proper
> working GHC / Haskell installation on their machine.

Could you (or someone) summarize these issues and steps?  I remember
one of the big issues was *network* and the likes (which is frankly an
issue with other languages as well), but from the sound of this post,
I assume there's more.

> Their contract would involve the initial setup of CI tasks able to
> produce MSIX packages

Hopefully that wouldn't become the only way to download GHC.

> Ideally we could have a GUI to install libraries easily, like many
> GNU/Linux package managers offer.

Sounds great, but is it reasonable? GNU/Linux package managers AFAIK
don't install Haskell libraries either.

> The important thing to keep in mind is that the GNU/Linux and macOS
> users *cannot* hold the Windows users to the same standards in
> terms of CLI usability.

It's true that one-liners and scripting is harder in Cmd, but simple
commands (no pipes, no flow control etc.) that are the bread and
butter for developers work just fine.  I sense I'm missing some
context; why is this an issue?

--
David Macek
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Re: A future for the Windows packaging situation.

Hécate
 >Hopefully that wouldn't become the only way to download GHC.

That wasn't my intention to suggest it to be the One True Way to
download it.

 >Sounds great, but is it reasonable? GNU/Linux package managers AFAIK
don't install Haskell libraries either

Some do! On Fedora, the Haskell libraries that are shipped are prefixed
with `ghc-`, and Arch Linux has become
quite infamous due to the way they ship dynamically-linked Haskell
libraries and executables.
By GUI I was thinking of something like DNFDragora[0] and its Ubuntu
counterpart (whose name I forgot).

 >It's true that one-liners and scripting is harder in Cmd, but simple
commands (no pipes, no flow control etc.) that are the bread and
butter for developers work just fine.  I sense I'm missing some context;
why is this an issue?

cmd.exe is fundamentally a foreign interface to most Windows users, even
for developers. IDEs and GUIs have reigned for a long long
time in Windows Land, and Microsoft has no will to change this state of
fact. WSL is a tool developed to Linux / macOS power-users
who incidentally need to deal with Windows, or needed an argument to
switch to the platform.

In addition to all of this, shipping a .tar.lz format was a terrible
mistake, for no tool shipped with Windows is able to properly
handle it, but I do not wish to blame anyone, it just needs to be
changed to .zip and we can be done with it.

[0]: https://github.com/manatools/dnfdragora

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Re: A future for the Windows packaging situation.

Compl Yue
In reply to this post by Hécate
Hey, respectful devs, 

Just now I see https://coder.com/ (open source at https://github.com/cdr/code-server), then I realize it may make a good option for windows users to feel home in starting Haskell development.

They happen to be talking about releasing a windows binary from current basis that only Linux/macOS are supported - https://github.com/cdr/code-server/issues/1397#issuecomment-627662902

Their mac experience is right about downloading a .zip file from https://github.com/cdr/code-server/releases , unpack it, double-click an executable (security option needs to be tuned as a mac thing), then goto http://localhost:8080/ and voila:

Haskell Language Serveralanz.vscode-hie-server can be installed right away


I'd think GHC and Cabal-install can be bundled similarly, with such an IDE and batteries of HIE based extensions.

Maybe some day HLS can hook ghcup/ghcups/stack up to install GHC wrt per project specification, in a cross-platform way.

All the best,
Compl


On 2020-05-13, at 18:55, Hécate <[hidden email]> wrote:

Dear GHC devs, dear maintainers,

Following a discussion that took place on #ghc, I wish to spread it to the whole mailing-list, in order to receive some feedback,
and plan for the future now that it has become clear that the present is rather bleak.

As some of you may have seen from the long threads in haskell-cafe@, countless steps of various difficulty for Windows users
(excluding power-users) need to be taken in order to have a proper working GHC / Haskell installation on their machine.
Moreover, some defiance against Chocolatey has come to our ears, due to the mailing-list registration form that appears
when one desires to download this package manager. I shall speak for myself by saying that I do not wish the that the Windows
Haskell developers need to become a special combo of Chocolatey maintainers and Windows power users.
Some GNU/Linux distributions such as Exherbo have made this their creed, the major difference being that they actually give
the tools to make such a thing possible.

The point of my email to you all is the following: I suggest that Haskell.org, the 501(c)(3) established in NY which, If I am not mistaken,
holds the funds from various individual donations, the Amazon Smile programme and Software in the Public Interest grants,
hires a company to establish a strong technological basis regarding Windows packaging. I am not talking of delegating the maintaining task
to an external entity, but to provide the foundations upon which volunteers will be able to keep things running.
Training in such matters would also be beneficial, so that newcomers can learn on the spot how to best interact with this.

Their contract would involve the initial setup of CI tasks able to produce MSIX packages, while the people in charge of the haskell.org
landing page would ease the user experience by providing clearer ways to install GHC on various platforms.
Ideally we could have a GUI to install libraries easily, like many GNU/Linux package managers offer.

That being said, I was also suggested the idea of a grant and/or sponsorship. What we need is less a capitalist framework around that task
and more of an incentive to invest a serious amount of work and quality so that it becomes, at last, the non-issue it should have always been.

The important thing to keep in mind is that the GNU/Linux and macOS users *cannot* hold the Windows users to the same standards in
terms of CLI usability. I cannot weigh in my opinion on the most recent iterations of PowerShell, but Windows XP's cmd.exe was
excruciating, to say the least.

Now, I know some of you will prefer to have this task handled by competent volunteers, but I am under the moral obligation to say
that expecting salvation and better tomorrows from people who have yet to make their presence known in the thirty years of existence
of our dear language, is at best mild delusion, at worse folly that will only widen the gap between what is needed to get Haskell up and
running smoothly on the Windows platform and the average skill of Windows users.

I am not suggesting that my email is The True Way to follow so that everything is fixed forever,
and if we can, as a community, arrive to some satisfying workflow that would benefit rather than alienate
our Windows user base, this would would be wonderful.


Thank you for reading until the end.

Cheers,
Hécate.

PS: I am in no way trying to berate anyone for their implied incompetence, or imply that Windows users are stupid and/or technologically impaired.
This would be misinterpreting my words and lead nowhere but to another OS war on another mailing-list.
PPS: I am serious. Please stay on-topic.
PPPS: I hold no share, no money or any other form of capital in any Windows packaging company we might or might not end up hiring for the task.
I am speaking of experience, for my company used an external contractor to work on our landing (non-product) page, while all hands were on deck
to support the product development effort. This allowed us to have a strong foundation to iterate on, and bought us countless hours of development time.

_______________________________________________
ghc-devs mailing list
[hidden email]
http://mail.haskell.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/ghc-devs


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ghc-devs mailing list
[hidden email]
http://mail.haskell.org/cgi-bin/mailman/listinfo/ghc-devs