Version 17 (modified by StephenBlackheath, 4 years ago) (diff)


Building a GHC cross-compiler for Apple iOS targets

Take a look at #7724 for the status of iOS cross compiling. Any any time, you should be able to take GHC HEAD and apply any patches for bugs that are open (not crossed out) in "Blocked by".


1. Read ARM-specific notes

See Cross-compiling GHC at the bottom. In particular, you need to install llvm version 3.0 or >= 3.2. Version 3.0 definitely works. There may be outstanding issues with version 3.2.

2. Scripts

Place these scripts somewhere in your path:




TARGET_CFLAGS="-isysroot $TARGET_PLATFORM -mcpu=cortex-a8 -mfpu=neon"


# Only need lipo when we're building object files
if [[ "$allArgs" == *.o* ]]
# Find the filename 
fileName=$(echo "$allArgs" | sed 's|.*-o \([^.]*\)\.o.*|\1|')

# Create filename variants for armV7 and armV7s

# Call gcc twice, once for each architecture, outputting to our filename variants
$TARGET_GCC $TARGET_CFLAGS "-march=armv7" ${allArgs//$fileName.o/$fileNameForArmv7.o}
$TARGET_GCC $TARGET_CFLAGS "-march=armv7s" ${allArgs//$fileName.o/$fileNameForArmv7s.o}

# Lipo the two filename variants together
lipo $fileNameForArmv7.o $fileNameForArmv7s.o -create -output $fileName.o
# If not building object files, call regularly.








exec $TARGET_NM "$@"

arm-apple-darwin10-cabal (not needed during the build, but useful afterwards)

exec cabal --with-ghc=arm-apple-darwin10-ghc --with-ghc-pkg=arm-apple-darwin10-ghc-pkg --with-ld=arm-apple-darwin10-ld \
--configure-option=--host=arm-apple-darwin10 --host-arch=arm --host-os=ios \

Edit these scripts to ensure the platform version matches what you are compiling to in Xcode

3. Check out GHC

Check out as described at Building and Porting GHC, except use the following for your sync-all to omit dph packages, because Template Haskell doesn't work yet, and dph depends on it:

./sync-all --no-dph get
perl boot

4. Create a file

GHC requires you to write a mk/ file, and the following one works. integer-simple must be used, because the default implementation doesn't compile on iOS. Stage1Only is needed for cross-compiling.

SPLIT_OBJS           = NO
INTEGER_LIBRARY      = integer-simple
Stage1Only 	     = YES
GhcLibWays           = v

5. Configure & build

./configure --target=arm-apple-darwin10 --prefix=/usr/local/ghc-ios/
sudo mkdir -p /usr/local/ghc-ios/
sudo make install

6. Create an Xcode project

Create a new skeleton Xcode project using the wizard, and make sure it runs on your device.

7. Compile your Haskell code

Open a terminal and add /usr/local/ghc-ios/bin to your PATH environment variable.

Here's a skeleton haskell.hs to get you started:

{-# LANGUAGE ForeignFunctionInterface #-}

import Foreign
import Foreign.C

foreign import ccall safe "c_main" c_main :: IO ()

main = do
    putStrLn "Haskell start"

The main() function in main.m must be changed to something like this, because Haskell's main now runs first.

int c_main(void)
    int argc = 1;
    char* argv[2];
    argv[0] = "dummy";
    argv[1] = NULL;		
    @autoreleasepool {
        return UIApplicationMain(argc, argv, nil, NSStringFromClass([AppDelegate class]));

Now compile it:

arm-apple-darwin10-ghc haskell.hs -threaded

Ignore the copious warnings about "truncation and blank padding" and "has no symbols" (until someone fixes them).

This will create (in this example) haskell.a.

8. Set up your Xcode project for Haskell

Now configure it as follows:

  • Click on the top node in the project tree, then go to the Build Settings tab. Set Dead Code Stripping to No. This is needed because GHC generates "tables next to code", and without this setting, Xcode thinks the tables are dead code and strips them, causing a crash.
  • Click on the top node in the project tree, then go to the Build Phases tab. Click on Link Binary With Libraries to open it then click +. Choose libiconv.dylib then click Add.
  • When you've compiled your Haskell code to a .a (e.g. haskell.a) file, add it to the project anywhere in the hierarchy with Add files to (project) in the right-mouse button menu.

9. Build and run

Run the project again as usual, and Xcode will pick up the haskell.a file and your Haskell code should now run on your iOS device. Anything printed with putStrLn will appear in the Xcode runtime console.

Each time you modify your Haskell code you'll need to re-compile from the command line before re-building in Xcode. It is possible to automate this in Xcode if you wish.

Loose ends

Outstanding issues we should fix in rough priority order.

  • Fat binaries (done by lukexi)
  • Cross-compiler for the iOS simulator
  • Template Haskell for cross compilers!
  • Packaging with the wrapper scripts and perhaps release of binaries of official ghc releases
  • Would be nice to not have to disable dead-code removal. (Simon Marlow says "we have special hacks so that you don't have to disable dead-code removal on OS X, in the native code generator and (I presume) in the LLVM backend. Perhaps this just needs to be adapted to work on iOS too?")
  • Test cabal more, as there are likely to be some areas where cross-compiling isn't quite right yet
  • Fix the copious link warnings
  • Stop llvm generating an unnecessary 'bx lr' (return) instruction after the GHC calling convention (which is actually a goto)