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A week ago Austin Seipp and GHC team announced first release candidate from 7.8 branch.

As a packager I was especially interested in following features:

  1. GHCi (and dynamic linking) on unregisterised arches, like ia64 and powerpc64
  2. jobs argument for ghc make. Parallel builds for free.
  3. what did seriously break, what was fixed?

First off, -rc1 is packaged in gentoo-haskell overlay (not keyworded as quite a bit of packages fail to build against ghc-7.8).

GHCi (and dynamic linking)

Dynamic linking works like a charm! GHCi loads binaries noticeaby faster. Let’s test it! Simplest synthetic test: how fast do you get prompt from interpreter?

# ghc-7.6:
$ time { echo '1+1' | ghci -package yesod-core >/dev/null; }
real    0m0.626s
user    0m0.550s
sys     0m0.074s
# ghc-7.8:
$ time { echo '1+1' | ghci -package yesod-core >/dev/null; }
real    0m0.209s
user    0m0.172s
sys     0m0.034s

It’s a case, when files are cached in RAM. 3-4 times faster. The same boost should apply every time when you compile something template-haskell related.

jobs argument for ghc make

I’ve went ahead and tried to enable it for all ebuilds.

For some reason ghc eats a lot of system time in that mode. Likely jobs without arguments is not very good idea and i’ll need to limit it by minimum of MAKEOPTS value and some N (Cabal picked 64).

Even in this mode 2-time speedup is visible on large packages.

So what did break?

Not _that_ much, actually.

alex and happy generated parsers

All package maintainers who ship lexers generated by alex and parsers generated by happy are strongly advised to update those tools locally and reissue hackage update, as old parsers do not compile against ghc-7.8.

If you have happened to use low-level

(==#) :: Int# -> Int# -> Bool

primitives, you might need to port your code a bit, as how their type is a bit different:

(==#) :: Int# -> Int# -> Int#

Here is our example fix for arithmoi.

Type inference changed a bit.

Traditionally darcs needed a patch :] In that big mostly dumb patch most interesting bit is explicit assignment:

- where copyRepo =
+ where copyRepo :: IO ()
+ copyRepo =

Even more amusing breakage was in shake, where error was in inability to infer Addr# argument. No idea was it a bug or feature.

Unsafe removals

As we’ve seen in darcs patch many unsafe${something} functions went away from Foreign modules down to their Unsafe counterparts.

Typeable

Typeable representation did change in a substantial way, thus advanced generic stuff will break. I have no example fix, but have a few of broken packages, like dependent-sum.

Hashtable gone from base

Example of fix for frag package. By the way, ghc-7.6 used to eat 8GBs of RAM compiling frag. For ghc-7.8 it was enough 700MBs even for 8 building threads.

Compiler itself

The thing I expected to try didn’t compile: unregisterised arches and GHCi on them.

I’ve hacked-up a workaround to make them build, but in threaded RTS mode it still SIGSEGVs.

STG gurus are welcome to help me :]

I have fundamental questions like:

  • can unregisterised builds support SMP in theory? (via __thread attribute for example)
  • did UNREG ever produce working threaded runtime?
$ cat __foo/foo.hs 
main = print 1
# non-threaded works, as always been
$ inplace/bin/ghc-stage1 --make __foo/foo.hs -threaded -debug -fforce-recomp
#
$ gdb --args ./__foo/foo +RTS -D{s,i,w,g,G,b,S,t,p,a,l,m,z,c,r}
...
(gdb) run
...
7ffff7fb9700: resuming capability 0
7ffff7fb9700: cap 0: created thread 1
7ffff7fb9700: new bound thread (1)
7ffff7fb9700: cap 0: schedule()
7ffff7fb9700: cap 0: running thread 1 (ThreadRunGHC)
Jumping to 0x7ec17f
#
Program received signal SIGSEGV, Segmentation fault.
0x00000000007ec1a2 in stg_returnToStackTop ()
(gdb) bt
#0  0x00000000007ec1a2 in stg_returnToStackTop ()
#1  0x00000000007d26d9 in StgRun (f=0x7ec17f , basereg=0xca0648) at rts/StgCRun.c:81
#2  0x00000000007c7a30 in schedule (initialCapability=0xca0630, task=0xcc3b30) at rts/Schedule.c:463
#3  0x00000000007ca2c4 in scheduleWaitThread (tso=0x7ffff6b05390, ret=0x0, pcap=0x7fffffffd218) at rts/Schedule.c:2346
#4  0x00000000007c0162 in rts_evalIO (cap=0x7fffffffd218, p=0xb61450 , ret=0x0) at rts/RtsAPI.c:459
#5  0x00000000007e04c3 in ioManagerStartCap (cap=0x7fffffffd218) at rts/posix/Signals.c:184
#6  0x00000000007e04f6 in ioManagerStart () at rts/posix/Signals.c:194
#7  0x00000000007d1d5d in hs_init_ghc (argc=0xc96570 , argv=0xc96578 , rts_config=...) at rts/RtsStartup.c:262
#8  0x00000000007d000b in real_main () at rts/RtsMain.c:47
#9  0x00000000007d0122 in hs_main (argc=17, argv=0x7fffffffd418, main_closure=0xb527a0 , rts_config=...) at rts/RtsMain.c:114
#10 0x0000000000404df1 in main ()

Looks like CurrentTSO is complete garbage. Should not happen :]

Conclusion

The experience is positive. I already get bored, when see single-threaded make of ghc-7.6 and want to update a compiler.

Things like yesod, darcs, hoogle, pandoc and xmonad build fine, thus you can get working environment very fast.

Package authors are more eager to fix stuff for this release: it turns bug lookup and benchmarking into very interactive process.

I want to thank All Of You to make push haskell forward!

Thank you!

Time to time internetz stumble upon a ghci bug which is seen as inability to load base haskell package:

Loading package ghc-prim ... linking ... done.
Loading package integer-gmp ... linking ... done.
Loading package base ... linking ... ghc: /usr/lib64/ghc-7.4.2/base-4.5.1.0/HSbase-4.5.1.0.o: unknown symbol `stat'
ghc: unable to load package `base'

But the bug was most popular across rare gentoo users. An interesting correlation!

This post is about the root of this problem: the gory implementation details of ghci dynamic loader down to libC and even ELF symbols!

Not scared? Fasten your belts and Read On!

Read the rest of this entry »

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