Haskell Cabal in Ubuntu
EDIT: You may prefer to install the entire haskell platform in one go, which includes cabal. Detailed instructions can be found here.
Recently I’ve begun to learn Haskell, the lazy functional language. Haskell is backed by a large library of packages, called Hackage. On Hackage, libraries and programs in a wide variety of genres are available for download. In order to simplify the download and install process for these packages a tool was born to allow command line grab/install maneuver. Think apt-get for Haskell.
The tool in question is called cabal, and it’s quite useful during Haskell development. Unfortunately, I’ve run into some issues while using it, mainly to do with resolving dependencies. I’ll get to that later.
Installing cabal was not as straight-forward as I had hoped. I first went to the offical cabal download page, to see what my options were. The only option on that page was to download a tarball and install it by hand. Of course, having been pampered by the power of apt-get, I figured there had to be a better way. Unfortunately, it seems as there is not. No cabal package exists in the Ubuntu repositories. I downloaded the tarball and prepared to install. The install from the tarball was painless as manual installs go, but unfortunately I had to resolve multiple dependencies to get the build to succeed. Here were the steps I took:
#get our dependant libraries (this assumes we already have ghc6 installed) sudo apt-get install libghc6-network-dev libghc6-parsec-dev libghc6-mtl-dev libghc6-zlib-dev #grab the source wget http://haskell.org/cabal/release/cabal-install-0.6.2/cabal-install-0.6.2.tar.gz #untar it tar -xvvf cabal-install-0.6.2.tar.gz #install it sh cabal-install-0.6.2/bootstrap.sh #link the executable into our path sudo ln -s $HOME/.cabal/bin/cabal /usr/local/bin/cabal
Cabal is not limited to simply downloading libraries. It can also allow you to easily create libraries of your own and upload them to Hackage, and also build projects (similar to make).
cabal --help will bring up your main options, which is always a good starting place. Let’s look at installing a package using cabal.
cabal install [package-name] installs the given package name. This should be very familiar to anyone who has used a package manager such as apt-get.
cabal list [string] is like apt-cache; it searches Hackage for packages pertaining to the string you entered.
Explore! Have fun! there’s plenty more features of cabal that I won’t be covering now, yet are plenty awesome.
I’ve had some strange dependency issues; for example, installing bloxorz –
cabal install bloxorz
gives me an error while trying to build a dependency that in turn depends on a C library which is not auto-resolved. Fun. Fortunately, such errors seem to be few and far between.