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11:25 am, 14 May 06

haskell influence at linspire

The OS team at Linspire, Inc. would like to announce that we are standardizing on Haskell as our preferred language for core OS development.

We are redoing a bunch of our infrastructure using Haskell as our common standard language. Our first task is redoing our Debian package builder (aka autobuilder) in Haskell. Other tools such as ISO builders, package dependency checkers are in progress. The goal is to make a really tight simple set of tools that will let developers contribute to Freespire, based on Debian tools whenever possible. Our hardware detector, currently in OCaml, is on the block to be rewritten as well.

[...] From our perspective, functional programming makes us more effective and we think that getting even a few people who know Haskell hacking with us is a better combination than lots of Perl and bash. [...]

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Clearly there's a functional programming geek on that team. It seems a really common path to Haskell is:
  1. See O'Caml's near-C level of performance on the language shootout, poke around a bit.
  2. Become an FP nut, start to think in higher levels, and start wondering "If only O'Caml had [x]..."
  3. Hear about Haskell often tossed around when people are talking about O'Caml, investigate, and sink further into depravity.
I don't think Functionalness is necessarily what really attracts people, though: if you want to write high-level code in a statically-typed setting, your only options are C variants (which sacrifice pleasantness for performance and backwards compatibility), Java (which has a little static typing but a lot of keyboard typing), or one of these weird functional languages. Unfortunately, once you've started down the ML path your brain is permanently damaged (FP, type inference) and you find it difficult to go back.