Version 10 (modified by simonpj, 8 years ago) (diff)


GHC Commentary: Libraries

All GHC installations contain a set of libraries called the boot packages. They are so called because the boot packages are the ones required for GHC to compile itself (the stage-2 compiler).

The boot packages, along with the other subcomponents of the GHC build system, are in the file packages in a GHC tree. To get a list of them, you can run make show VALUE=PACKAGES in a configured GHC build tree. (This variable is set in $(TOP)/

  • At the root of the hierarchy we have ghc-prim. As the name implies, this package contains the most primitive types and functions. It only contains a handful of modules, including GHC.Prim (which contains Int#, +#, etc) and GHC.Bool, containing the Bool datatype.
  • Above ghc-prim is the integer package, which provides a definition of the Integer type on top of the C gmp library. Which functionality is provided in ghc-prim is mostly driven by what functionality the integer package needs. Unlike all the other libraries, the integer package does not live in libraries/integer, but libraries/integer-gmp. This allows alternate implementations to be used, by defining INTEGER_LIBRARY=integer-foo in mk/
  • Next is the base package. This contains a large number of modules, many of which are in one big cyclic import knot, mostly due to the Exception type. This is something that we hope to improve upon, so that base can be split up.
  • On top of base are a number of other, more specialised packages, whose purpose is generally clear from their name. If not, you can get more detail from the descriptions in their Cabal files. Currently these packages are are:
    • array
    • bytestring
    • Cabal
    • containers
    • directory
    • extensible-exceptions
    • filepath
    • haskeline
    • haskell98
    • hpc
    • mtl
    • old-locale
    • old-time
    • packedstring
    • pretty
    • process
    • random
    • syb
    • template-haskell
    • terminfo
    • unix
    • utf8-string
    • Win32

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