What is New in Cross Compiling Haskell

August & September Edition

Due to a lot of traveling in September, I wan’t able to write the August update in September. So what happened in the last two month?

For the cross compilation pipeline through the llvm-ng, I’ve added binary serializability of cmm to a custom ghc fork, that allows to dump the cmm representation. This is helpful as it allows the decoupeling from the code generator and the ghc front end. What usually happens is that ghc reads a file, parses it turns it into an AST, desuguares it, runs a set of optimizations and finally turns it into STG before turning it into cmm. So far as cmm wasn’t really binary serializable, you had to plug your code generator in GHC, and have the frontend run, and then call your code gen. With the opportunity to just dump the cmm, this can be completely decoupled; it also means we can profile the code generator (cmm to object file) in isolation.

On the minimal ghc distribution side, I’ve come to the conclusion that ghc packaged with the following libraries: rts, ghc, ghc-prim, integer-gmp, integer-simple, base, array, deepest, pretty, ghc-boot-th, and template-haskell seems to be sufficient; this notably dropped Cabal, which means that Cabal needs to be bootstrapped. I’m not sure how I feel about that, or if I’d prefer to ship a static cabal binary alongside.

I’d ideally prefer to get rid to template-haskell as well, however as that is the same package ghc is linked against, not shipping it and potentially reinstalling a different one would potentially break anything that depens on TH; a way around this could be to use the external interpreter only; in which case you could recompile the external interpreter against your changed TH library.

On the topic of Template Haskell. The great HLint uses {-# ANN ... #-} pragmas, which cause ghc to enable Template Haskell for that module. After some discussion with Simon Marlow and Neil Mitchell, ghc will likely learn to ignore the {-# ANN ... "HLint: ... #-} pragmas, and provide an {-# HLINT ... #-} pragma.

Finally I didn’t have much time to spend on -target. I’d like to get the minimal ghc distribution working for that first as I believe it would make -target easier; and require to ship much less libraries.