Making Releases

Versioning policies

  • See also: wiki:WorkingConventions/Releases
  • Version numbers should always be three components
  • Release candidates should be numbered with the patch-level preceding their release. For instance, the first release candidate for 8.0.1 should be versioned 8.0.0-rc1

Core libraries

A few weeks before the first alpha release the release manager should contact the core library upstream maintainers to determine which core library versions will ship with the new GHC release. See WorkingConventions/BootLibraries for details.

Test policy

Branching the tree

Recommended procedure for a clean Git history:

  1. Prepare a wip-branch for bumping to the next stable GHC version (NB: You have to update to a 3-component version, i.e. to [8.0.0] rather than [8.0]!). Do *not* push this branch to a non-wip branch until 1. has been pushed
  2. Prepare GHC HEAD for a version bump to the next GHC HEAD major version (e.g. from GHC 7.11 to 8.1). Try to make this into a minimal commit (example: 947c8a530e2f977f56601289e1b11cde42f95322)
  3. After you succeeded with 1., try to rebase your stable wip branch to the commit right before the GHC HEAD version bump.
  4. If both worked, and nobody disturbed master in the mean-time, push master, and then push the new stable ghc-x.y branch. If master changed, rebase and go back to step 1.
  5. create an annotated ghc-x.yy-start tag pointing to the commit prepared in step 1.

Example for Git branches

Example for result of branching procedure described above

Make release notes

In docs/users_guide, add a $VERSION-notes.rst file and write the release notes.

Add a corresponding entry to the table-of-contents in index.rst.

Ensure that the changelogs in libraries/* are up-to-date. In particular note that several of the packages included in the ghc tree have their versions tied to ghc's version. Find these with git grep libraries/ ProjectVersion and ensure their changelogs include the new version.

Updating the tree

Update the ANNOUNCE file in the root of the tree.

In the AC_INIT line of, set the version number. A few lines below, set RELEASE=YES.

It's also good practice to update the config.guess and config.sub files scattered about the tree (currently in the root, libraries/base, and libraries/integer-gmp) from upstream (config.guess, config.sub).

You may also want to update the llvm-targets file: utils/llvm-targets/ > llvm-targets. Note that non-Apple clang releases lack the iOS targets so be sure to preserve these.

Tagging the release

Create a signed annotated git tag,

$ git tag -asu "Benjamin Gamari <>" ghc-8.4.3-release HEAD

In the case of release candidates an unannotated tag is sufficient (e.g. git tag ghc-7.10.2-rc1 HEAD).

Making the source tarball

The source tarball includes some generated files, such as Parser.hs (generated from Parser.y.pp). We therefore need to do a build before generating the source tarball.

First check out the branch, and ensure that the version number and RELEASE near the top of are correct. Then:

$ perl boot
$ ./configure
$ ./mk/ download all     # ensure all Windows tarballs are available
$ make                                        # GHC <= 7.10 only
$ make sdist

It is advisable to use a machine with as recent an autoreconf as possible; in particular, 2.61 is known to make a configure script that doesn't work on Windows.

You should now have source tarballs sdistprep/ghc-<VERSION>-src.tar.bz2 and sdistprep/ghc-<VERSION>-testsuite.tar.bz2.

N.B. the lndir utility required by make sdist is provided by xutils-dev on Debian.

Sending it to binary packagers

We are lucky to have a dedicated set of contributors who build binary distributions for platforms which GHC HQ does not handle. Since 8.0.1-rc3 our policy has been to provide source distributions to binary packagers seven days before the final release. We do this in order to put these externally-provided distributions on equal footing with the GHC-HQ-provided distributions.

Making the binary builds

We currently produce binary distributions for the following environments,

  • amd64/Windows
  • i386/Windows
  • i386/Linux (Debian 8)
  • amd64/Linux (Debian 8)
  • amd64/Linux (Debian 8 with DWARF)
  • amd64/Linux (Debian 9)
  • amd64/Darwin
  • amd64/FreeBSD 11
  • amd64/OpenBSD 6.2

First, you should make sure your environment has all of the tools necessary to make a proper release build. This can include more tools than an "ordinary" build of GHC requires, since documentation requires extra tools. You will need:

A good sanity check is to check the output of configure and make sure all of the tool fields are filled out.

Untar the src tarball. Then:

$ cat > mk/ <<EOF

(Note that BeConservative is only relevant on Linux, as it controls usage of clock_gettime in the RTS.)


$ ./configure      2>&1 | tee ../conf.log
$ make             2>&1 | tee ../make.log
$ make binary-dist 2>&1 | tee ../bd.log

Nightly builders will automatically produce release builds on FreeBSD, putting the results here.

Sanity checking the binary builds

The compare tool compares the tarballs of different releases, and warns about possible problems:

$ cd <</path/to/ghc/tree>>/distrib/compare
$ make
$ <</path/to/ghc/tree>>/distrib/compare/compare <<previous_release_files>> <<this_release_files>>

Check that the build can build the release

Install the release, set your $PATH, then just untar and:

$ ./configure
$ make

Sign and hash the release artifacts

To ensure that users can verify the authenticity of downloaded release artifacts, we offer detached gpg signatures and SHA{1,256} hashes of the tarballs. These are generated with,

$ sha256sum *.tar.xz > SHA256SUMS
$ sha1sum *.tar.xz > SHA1SUMS
$ gpg -u 'Benjamin Gamari <>' --detach-sign *.tar.xz SHA1SUMS SHA256SUMS

Be sure that your public key has been uploaded to a few well-known public keyservers.

Create and upload the library documentation$ mkdir /srv/web/<<VERSION>>
$ <</path/to/ghc/tree>>/distrib/mkDocs/mkDocs ghc-*-x86_64-unknown-linux.tar.bz2 ghc-*-i386-unknown-mingw32.tar.bz2
$ cd docs
$ scp *<<VERSION>>$ cd /srv/web/<<VERSION>>$ mkdir html$ cd html$ mv ../index.html .$ for i in ../*.tar.bz2; do tar -jxf $i; done

Sanity check<<VERSION>>/. In particular, check that the libraries docs include both Win32 and unix.

Prepare the webpage

In the git repository, create a download_ghc_<<MANGLED_VERSION>>.shtml page based on the previous one.

Sanity check<<MANGLED_VERSION>>. In particular, check that the release notes and documentation links work. Ensure release is in "news" section of index.html.

Push your changes to (TODO site should pull from git repo).

Upload the binaries

scp -r 7.6.2

Sanity check that the download links work.

  • Update


Add the release to "Versions" in the trac admin section, and make it the default version.

Update "Current Stable Release" in download.shtml, and move the previous release down to "Older Releases".

Update "Latest News" in index.shtml.$ ~/mk-latest-links$ ~/mk-latest-links | sh

Update the ANNOUNCE file.

Mail ANNOUNCE with the subject [ANNOUNCE] GHC version $version to,,,,

For an RC, a smaller message is sent to just, e.g.:

Subject: ANNOUNCE: GHC x.y.z Release Candidate 1

We are pleased to announce the first release candidate for GHC x.y.z:

This includes the source tarball and bindists for Windows, Linux, OS X and FreeBSD, on x86 and x86_64.

We plan to make the x.y.z release <sometime>.

Please test as much as possible; bugs are much cheaper if we find them
before the release!

Post-release book-keeping

There are a variety of things that should also be done,

Uploading libraries

TODO FIXME Normally Herbert and upstream maintainers take care of this - we always attempt to have full releases for all package by the time the final release happens (although not necessarily so for an RC - they may ship slight interim states).

Heuristic for detecting submodule libraries which have no proper release:

$ git submodule  | grep -F -- '-g'
 b6658e5d73eb0579b3054593de21f329ab491e77 libffi-tarballs (ghc-7.8.1-release-1-gb6658e5)
 3b573ee058560d1199a19efab10c016278dff252 libraries/Win32 (Win32-
 33eb2fb7e178c18f2afd0d537d791d021ff75231 libraries/dph (2009-06-25-1149-g33eb2fb)
 29cb0db59803c9d9181f7c4ce35ef1c6cbc6ccfb libraries/primitive (primitive-
 c0308f1c4f57859d9a8b10d504afe56eebbb27c5 libraries/vector (0_9_1-129-gc0308f1)
 69bae89103aca6e498b811d562f387830fbcb959 nofib (2009-06-25-226-g69bae89)
 f48474f640387dca4b42182c1ac78ba30865742d utils/haddock (haddock-2.16.0-release-32-gf48474f)
 c16032d83c8ce7ac3e11b99f8e80bfdfc77f0d1f utils/hsc2hs (2009-06-25-87-gc16032d)

The listing above shows submodules which point to submodules that have no *annotated* tag, and which need further investigation. In some cases the tag just wasn't propagated from the upstream repo into our local Git mirror.

Last modified 10 months ago Last modified on Dec 13, 2018 6:20:21 PM

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