Tag Archives: vm

Agile development and deployment in the cloud with Haskell and vado

In this post I would like to give you an update on vado – a piece of
software for running programs on vagrant VMs (or any other ssh server,
actually), projects I’ve contributed briefly to.

1 New build system

The old build system for ghcjs was a little bit messy. Basically, it was
just one Puppet configuration file that contained a hardcoded shell
script as a resource that is supposed to be written to the home
directory and executed. I decided to clean it up a notch and take more
of a Puppet approach to the whole thing.

You can find the new set of build script on the GitHub:

And since the errors are now printed to the screen it’s
easy to see which stage the build is going through and if anything
goes wrong you see an error trace for the current stage.

The prebuilt version has also been updated by
Luite Stegeman.

2 Vado

2.1 Vado intro

Hamish Mackenzie and I have been working on vado – a quick way to run
commands on a remote ssh server. Just mount the directory you want to
run the command in using sshfs, in that directory (or its
subdirectory) run vado like this:

vado ls -l

vado will run ‘mount’ to identify the user account, server name and
the remote directory to run the command in. It will then run ssh to
connect to the server and run the command.

You can also pass ssh options like this:

vado -t htop

This tells vado to pass -t to ssh (forces pseudo-tty allocation and
makes programs like vim and htop work nicely).

I will explain below how to set up vado for multiple remote
servers/sshfs mount points and how to develop Haskell projects on a
remote server/VM nicely using Emacs and ghc-mod.

2.2 .vadosettings

Vado is not tied to vagrant, but can be used with it and is faster
than vagrant ssh. If the user and host detected in mount are
specified in the ~/.vadosettings file, then the specified key and
port will be used.

The contents of the ~/.vadosettings file is basically a Haskell
list of MountSettings datastructures and we use standard Read and
Show type-classes for serialization.

The MountSettings data type is defined as follows:

-- | Mount point settings
data MountSettings = MountSettings {
    sshfsUser :: Text
  , sshfsHost :: Text
  , sshfsPort :: Int
  , idFile :: FilePath
  } deriving (Show, Read)

If the file is not present or incorrectly formatted
then the default settings for vagrant will be used:

  • User: vagrant
  • Host:
  • Port: 2222
  • Key file: ~/.vagrant.d/insecure_private_key

2.2.1 Example .vadosettings file

An example settings file might look like this:

  MountSettings {
    sshfsUser = "vagrant"
  , sshfsHost = "localhost"
  , sshfsPort = 2222
  , idFile = "/Users/dan/.vagrant.d/insecure_private_key"
  MountSettings {
    sshfsUser = "admin"
  , sshfsHost = "server.local"
  , sshfsPort = 2233
  , idFile = "/Users/dan/keys/local_server_key"

2.3 Vamount

Of course, using vado requires mounting the sshfs beforehand. But
it gets tedious typing out

sshfs vagrant@localhost:/home/vagrant ../vm/ -p2222

every time. A tool called vamount which is bundled together
with vado can be used for mounting remote filesystems based on
~/.vadosettings file.

You can use it like this:

vamount [ssh options] remote_path [profile #]

The remote_path from the remote server specified in the
~/.vadosettings file under number [profile #] will be mounted in the
current directory using sshfs.

The profile number count starts from 1. If the [profile #] is absent
or is 0 then the default (vagrant) configuration will be used.

2.4 Vado and ghc-mod

ghc-mod is a backend designed command to enrich Haskell programming on
editors like Emacs and Vim and it also features a front-end for Emacs
as a set of elisp scripts. It’s a really cool piece of software and if
you have not tried it yet I highly recommend you to invest into
installing and using it.

What we would like, however, is to edit files on the mounted
filesystem using Emacs on the host machine, but run ghc-mod inside the
VM. In order to do that we need to install ghc-mod both on our host
machine and on the VM.

While installing ghc-mod on the host machine running the latest
haskell-platform is pretty straightforward it is harder to do so on
the VM running GHC 7.7 due to the fact that many libraries are not
ready for GHC 7.7 and base 4.7 yet. We have to resort to installing
most of the things from source.

# run this on the guest machine
mkdir ghcmod && cd ghcmod

# patching installing convertible
cabal unpack convertible
cd convertible*
wget http://co-dan.github.io/patched/convertible.patch
patch -p1 Data/Convertible/Utils.hs convertible.patch
cabal install
cd ..

# installing ghc-syb-utils
git clone https://github.com/co-dan/ghc-syb.git
cd ghc-syb/utils/
cabal install
cd ../..

# finally getting and installing ghc-mod
git clone https://github.com/co-dan/ghc-mod.git
cd ghc-mod
cabal install

Ghc-mod itself uses the GHC API extensively so it’s no surprise we
have to change at least some code. Now that we have installed ghc-mod
on the guest VM we need to set up our host’s Emacs configuration to
communicate properly with the VM. First of all put this in your Emacs

(setq load-path (cons "~/Library/Haskell/ghc-7.6.3/lib/ghc-mod-2.0.3/share" load-path))
(autoload 'ghc-init "ghc" nil t)
(add-hook 'haskell-mode-hook (lambda () (ghc-init)))
;; (setq ghc-module-command "ghc-mod")
(setq ghc-module-command "~/vado-ghc-mod.sh")

~/vado-ghc-mod.sh should contain the following:

$VADO -t ghc-mod ${@//$LOCAL_PATH/$REMOTE_PATH} | sed "s,$REMOTE_PATH,$LOCAL_PATH,g"

I know that it’s a hack, but it does work and I guess that’s what
shell scripts are for ;)

Now go to ~/.bashrc on the guest machine and make sure that the
PATH variable is set correctly:


# PATH is set *before* this line:
[ -z "$PS1" ] && return

# <snip>

And that’s it, you should be done!

Before (ghc-mod running on the host machine):

After (ghc-mod running inside ghcjs-build VM):

3 Conclusion and future work

We’ve seen how a small but useful tool vado can make our life easier if
we want to develop Haskell projects on a remote server or on a
virtual machine. You can get Vado from GitHub: https://github.com/hamishmack/vado

Next week we are planning on releasing our first version of
interactive-diagrams pastesite (not going to be very interactive
though) and writing out its security model.

Meanwhile check Luite’s post on using Sodium FRP library for creating
Functional Reactive Web interfaces. It’s astonishing how easily you
can just get a FRP library, compile to JavaScript and make nifty web
apps with it.