Installing Haskell, a long story

Haskell is a research language that was designed by committee. As such it is only recently getting the support that you may expect in similarly old languages such as python or even ruby. Installation is going to all come down to your platform but I’ll go through the most common ones here.

An Overview of Haskell Projects

Haskell does not have a proper package manager such as Maven, Ant, Leiningen (Clojure), cargo (Rust), bundler (Ruby) etc. What it has are build tools known as cabal and stack. For non-legacy projects I prefer to use stack because it is focused on reproducible builds. For this tutorial I just wanted you to be aware of some Haskell vernacular you will encounter on the internet.


The haskell story on windows has gotten significantly better of the last few years. Simply download the haskell platform and follow the instructions. You’ll then want to download the stack tool here. Now to make a new project from a terminal simply go to some folder and run the following:

stack new my-project      // this will create your project's root folder
cd my-project             // change directories to that folder
stack setup               // This will take care of downloading the glorious haskell compiler
stack build               // This will build the bare bones project to an executable
stack exec my-project-exe // This will execute that executable (i.e. ./my-project-exe)

If you run into any issues then ask questions during the next meeting or on IRC. You can also check that you can run the haskell interpreter ghci with:

stack ghci


You can install Haskell on Mac similarly to the Windows install i.e. download the haskell platform, and then following the instructions below for stack. Installing with homebrew IMHO is easier and easier to maintain simply open a terminal and run homebrew to install ghc and cabal-install like so:

brew install ghc cabal-install

homebrew may have older versions of the glorious haskell compiler which you can check via:

brew info ghc cabal-install

Similarly, to install stack on Mac just use homebrew like:

brew install haskell-stack

Now verify that you can create a project or run ghci as shown in the Windows section above


This will depend on your distro for Ubuntu, Debian and other popular distros chances are that haskell and stack are in your package manager already, so check your particular distros’ distribution. If you are on NixOS or Arch Linux see below:


In your configration.nix file just add this snippet or isolate it to a separte *.nix file if you want:

## Monolithic system package description
environment.systemPackages = with pkgs; [ # haskell dependencies

Now rebuild

sudo nixos-rebuild switch

and you should be able to run a stack ghci as described above from the command line.


As always check the arch wiki I would recommend letting stack handle most of your system wide dependencies to avoid having to download all your packages through pacman. Similarly instead of downloading and building stack as the wiki suggests, you’ll be better served by downloading stack-static or stack-bin from the AUR.