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Date: 2007-08-06 (07:36)
From: Adrien <camaradetux@g...>
Subject: Re: [Caml-list] ocamlbuild

I can't answer your question on ocamlbuild but in order to install
some modules under mingw+msys, I had to make ocamlfind work correctly
under windows and learned a few things.

 > To do this, it must read filenames written with / in it,
 > but use filenames with \ replacing the /. I'd say this is
 > mandatory, so the same build control file will work on
 > all platforms. Then you need to document that Unix filenames
 > must be used, even on Windows.

It seems mingw doesn't care that much as I've seen it use paths with
mixed forward and backward slashes.
For the paths, it handles both windows and unix paths.
In mingw, I use paths such as these : /e/GNU/ocaml/lib
But in the application I am developping (as a toy), I need real
windows paths and there is no problem. You only have to change '\' to
"\\" to avoid invalid escapes (though I prefer this to a valid

I've launched a toplevel and tried Unix.stat on some files:

# Unix.stat "E:\\DocsAndSettings\\Administrateur\\.sancho\\sancho.pref";;
- : Unix.stats =
{Unix.st_dev = 4; Unix.st_ino = 0; Unix.st_kind = Unix.S_REG;
 Unix.st_perm = 438; Unix.st_nlink = 1; Unix.st_uid = 0; Unix.st_gid = 0;
 Unix.st_rdev = 4; Unix.st_size = 5640; Unix.st_atime = 1172179361.;
 Unix.st_mtime = 1172187293.; Unix.st_ctime = 1172179361.}

# Unix.stat "E:\\DocsAndSettings\\Administrateur\\Application
- : Unix.stats =
{Unix.st_dev = 4; Unix.st_ino = 0; Unix.st_kind = Unix.S_REG;
 Unix.st_perm = 438; Unix.st_nlink = 1; Unix.st_uid = 0; Unix.st_gid = 0;
 Unix.st_rdev = 4; Unix.st_size = 1181; Unix.st_atime = 1175886880.;
 Unix.st_mtime = 1186381757.; Unix.st_ctime = 1175886880.}

> Note: although *Ocaml* basenames cannot have spaces in them,
> the directories that contain them can. So Ocamlbuild must be
> sure to quote all filenames, in case they have spaces.
> This includes allowing quotes in the input specs.
> Unix file systems allow spaces in filenames too, and many
> modern Desktops will have 'folders' with spaces in
> (if a 'doze or fruit user gets Ubuntu in their office).

When making ocamlfind work under windows, on of the problems was with
Filename.quote. In fact, not exactly but when I removed the calls to
it, the problem disappeared. I tried to quote manually and realized it
required one more quotation and I ended with several \"\".
I think it would be better if Unix.command quoted on its own.

> I warn this is a serious PITA if you're building Windows
> *Native* code, but hosting the build on Cygwin, because
> executables have to use Unix filenames but arguments have
> to use Windows filenames, so you have to carefully keep
> track of which tool is running what.

I've been a mldonkey user for years and always wanted to compile
mldonkey myself for windows.

I've started with (pure, i.e. no mingw) Cygwin and everything built
quickly. However I had a complete unix system inside my computer :
hundreds of MBs used and most important tens of thousand of files
which made everything slower. And then I got the problem with unix vs.
windows filenames and when I saw it, it was a terrible mess.

I later tried with mingw and it wasn't good at then. I tried again
with mingw a few weeks ago and everything works.
I know ocaml's documentation says mingw+msys doesn't work because of
the limited command-line length of msys but this is untrue : the
limitation comes from windows's cmd.exe which is etwa 2000 under
windows 2000 but around 8000 for XP (see the very end of this page
which is really great btw )
In fact, what's so great with mingw is that you can use what has been
coded for unix while keeping the windows features (see dev-cpp which
is a C IDE on and for windows).

> A serious nasty here is if you have to use silly names
> on windows for the tools, eg building Felix:
>        C:\Program Files (x86)\Ocaml\ocamlc
> and here the spaces, parentheses and C: drive
> letter are mandatory and must be handled correctly
> as a native filename. On Windows, Ocaml isn't necessarily
> even in the path -- because on Windows XP64 I have multiple
> Ocaml versions and I need to *specify* which one to use,
> no accidents from PATH please! (Well actually, we do use
> the PATH but it leads to a mess).

Thanks to the wiki page spiralvoice made for mldonkey compilation
under windows, I created a .profile file in msys's ~ with this:
  export PATH=/e/GNU/ocaml/bin:/e/GNU/ocaml/lib:$PATH
  export CAMLLIB=/e/GNU/ocaml/lib
  export OCAMLLIB=/e/GNU/ocaml/lib
  export CAMLP4LIB=/e/GNU/ocaml/lib/camlp4

And had not problem. Adding other entries solved another problem with
ocamlfind as it relies on environment variables.
OCaml's "make install" should update them itself.

Btw, am I wrong thinking you use the MSVC port ?

As a side note, if you are concerned about spaces on windows, you can
rename "Program Files", "Documents And Settings" and move the Temp
Here I have "Programs", "DocsAndSettings" and temp is in
"LocalSettings\Temp" (though "Local Settings" still exist ans is being
used but at least by everything).
You have to edit your windows CDs with a tool such as nlite
( (actually you can do it after windows installation but I
wouldn't really advise it ;) ).


Adrien Nader