[wg-windows] Status of the OCaml Installer for Windows: the way forward?
jonathan.protzenko at gmail.com
Fri May 29 20:02:34 BST 2015
Dear OCaml-on-Windows aficionados,
I thought I'd give a quick update on the status of my installer and more
generally the way I see things moving forward in the OCaml for Windows
About the installer: it hasn't been updated for a while. I'll issue a
new release shortly. I'll drop the ActiveTCL step (no stable URL, causes
problems) and I'll also drop Emacs (I don't think anyone uses that setup
About the way forward: there's two assumptions that I'd like to bring to
- Most OCaml packages need / assume a Unix-ish environment to build.
- Binary packages are likely not going to happen soon.
Therefore, what is urgently needed is:
i) an installer that brings you the bare minimum (ocaml, flexdll, plus
perhaps camlp4, ocamlfind and batteries), and
ii) a unix-ish environment to make sure tools like ocamlbuild find the
required utilities such as "bash" that they (infortunately) require in
order to run, and
iii) a way to distribute the toolchain (the assembler, a.k.a.
i686-mingw-w64-as) required by ocaml (more precisely, by flexdll),
iv) a package manager that can take it from there and fetch/compile the
The installer I provide satisfies i). Since it installs Cygwin, ii) and
iii) are satisfied as well, because cygwin packages the /native/
compilers from the mingw64 project. The only remaining pain point is
iv), and for that I really think we need OPAM to work out of the box on
Once OPAM works superbly well, we won't need the installer anymore, because:
- OPAM will be distributed as a statically-linked binary, that
- takes care of installing even the OCaml compiler itself, and
- is capable of installing the remaining binaries, as long as
- the user operates in a cygwin environment so as to get bash, sed, and
the toolchain from mingw.
Please keep in mind that we're only talking of Cygwin as a way to get a
Unix-ish environment. In the scenario outlined above, the OCaml
compilers are, and generate, native windows programs.
Of course, that's a very biased point of view, but I'd be happy to hear
other's thoughts as to what exactly this doesn't fit their needs!
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