Friday, October 27, 2023

It seemed like a simple problem to fix

While a bit under the weather last week, I decided to try and fix what at first glance appears to be a simple problem:

need to ship the manpage with exa

Now, exa is a modern file lister, and the package on Tribblix doesn't ship a man page. The reason for that, it turns out, is that there isn't a man page in the source, but you can generate one.

To build the man page requires pandoc. OK, so how to get pandoc, which wasn't available on Tribblix? It's written in Haskell, and I did have a Haskell package.

Only my version of Haskell was a bit old, and wouldn't build pandoc. The build complains that it's too old and unsupported. You can't even build an old version of pandoc, which is a little peculiar.

Off to upgrade Haskell then. You need Haskell to build Haskell, and it has some specific requirements about precisely which versions of Haskell work. I wanted to get to 9.4, which is the last version of Haskell that builds using make (and I'll leave Hadrian for another day). You can't build Haskell 9.4 with 9.2 which it claims to be too new, you have to go back to 9.0.

Fortunately we do have some bootstrap kits for illumos available, so I pulled 9.0 from there, successfully built Haskell, then cabal, and finally pandoc.

Back to exa. At which point you notice that it's been deprecated and replaced by eza. (This is a snag with modern point tools. They can disappear on a whim.)

So let's build eza. At which point I find that the MSRV (Minimum Supported Rust Version) has been bumped to 1.70, and I only had 1.69. Another update required. Rust is actually quite simple to package, you can just download the stable version and package it.

After all this, exa still doesn't have a man page, because it's deprecated (if you run man exa you get something completely different from X.Org). But I did manage to upgrade Haskell and Cabal, I managed to package pandoc, I updated rust, and I added a replacement utility - eza - which does now come with a man page.

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