This was a successful project. Thanks, Adolfo!


Improving the behaviour and reliablity of the Global Cache.

Adolfo and Eric tend to meet on #darcs, Sunday at 20:00 UTC (15:00 COT, 21:00 BST)


  1. (ending 23 May)

    • University time - no Adolfo yet
    • Hacking starts 24 May
  2. (ending 30 May)

  3. (6 Jun)

  4. (13 Jun)

    • Goal: complete issue1176

    • Progress: 75% (needs one final review)

    • Goal: rough test plan for issue1599

    • Progress: 0%

    • Goal: Test for issue1503 (patch257)

    • Progress: DONE

    • Goal: complete issue1210 (amend patch266)

    • Progress: DONE

    • Goal: Test for issue1210 (patch266)

    • Progress: 75% (still failing on Windows)

    • Goal: CacheSystem Q1 answered - What exactly happens when Darcs attempts to fetch a file with a given hash?

    • Progress: 50% (hmm, more high-level please)

    • Goal: clarification on distinction between HashedRepo and HashedIO

    • Progress: 0%

    • Goal: flesh out Darcs.Repository.Cache description

    • Progress: DONE (Eric has more comments, though)

    • Report:

  5. (20 Jun)

    • Goal: complete issue1176 [spillover]

    • Progress: DONE

    • Goal: Figure out why issue1210 test fails on Windows

    • Progress: DONE

    • Goal: Extend cache sorting to all relevant commands

    • Progress: 0%

    • Goal: higher-level explanations for Q1

    • Progress: DONE

    • Goal: clarification on distinction between HashedRepo and HashedIO

    • Progress: DONE

    • Report:

  6. (27 Jun) Start working on the issue1599 (

    • Goal: cleanups on Q1 (phrasing) Q2 (clarify low-level) and Q3 (flesh out a bit more)

    • Progress: DONE

    • Goal: cleanups on document structure

    • Progress: 0%

    • Goal: rough test plan for issue1599

    • Progress: 25% (needs more meat)

    • Goal: simple test case for issue1599

    • Progress: 50% (needs a bit of reworking)

    • Goal: comments on Petr’s plan (ie. have read and thought about plan suggested by Petr). Comments on what could go wrong would be nice.

    • Progess:

  7. (4 Jul) [NB: no meeting at the end of this week]

    • Goal: answer for Q4

    • Progress: 75% - needs proofreading

    • Goal: first draft of CacheSystem doc complete

    • Progress: DONE

    • Goal: Implement time out environmental variable.

    • Progress: stuck on Windows related isuse

    • Goal: Mark non-existing local caches and notify to the user about it.

    • Progress: not done (but progress made understanding the issue)

  8. (11 Jul)

    • Thinking about how to do issue1599

    • Google Deadline 12 Jul MIDTERM EVALUATIONS

    • Goal: high-level documentation of cache code done

  9. (18 Jul)

  10. (25 Jul)

    • Goal: Patch for issue1599
    • Progress: first draft submitted! (amendments requested)
  11. (1 Aug)

    • Goal: Polish patch for issue1599: sent (amendments requested)
    • Goal: Extend Haddock in the Repository/Cache.hs: done but need to put it in a patch )
  12. (8 Aug)

    • Goal: Complete patch for issue1599: DONE
    • Goal: Write test for issue1599: DONE
    • Goal: Extends high-level document with behaviour for bad caches: done
    • Goal: Documentation for issue1599: not done, push to next week
  13. (15 Aug)


  • 2010-07-01 - Darcs 2.5 freeze? release at end of month
  • 2010-10 - Darcs Hacking Sprint #5


Technical details

* Where should the high level documentation go? In the user manual or on the wiki? ( We will use for now the wiki, it wouldn’t hurt having them in both :) )


  • NFS
  • Windows shares (those things with \paths)
  • Multiple partitions
  • Explictly remote caches (network)

Original proposal

Improving Darcs Performance

About the project

The idea of my project is working on the improvement of Darcs performance and “predictability”. The global cache acts as a giant patch pool where Darcs first looks for a patch when grabbing new patches. This saves time by not downloading the same patch twice from a remote server. It also saves space by storing the patch only once, if you ensure your cache and your repositories are on the same hardlink-supporting filesystem. Although, being the global cache on the biggest performance enhancing tools, there are issues which affect it in certain circumstances, my work will focus on doing Darcs automatically expire unused caches [1], what is happening right now is that Darcs try to use all the time the global cache, in some cases some sources are no longer being used but Darcs can figure it out by itself, so between every patch, Darcs tries to establish a “connection” with every source taking a considerable amount of time while it gives up that connection. [2].


The main goal of this proposal is to code a proper way in which Darcs can identify the unused cache, and establish a mechanism which allows us to determinate whether they should be expire or not.


An initial plan has been developed by Petr Ročkai [3]. My idea is to continue Petr’s plan which basically consist of:

Checking for availability of repo root (that we’re fetching from), if it’s not available and depending the current environment :

[a] Remote: Ignore the entry for Darcs (we want to keep the entry in case it’s just transient error) and log the issue.

[b] Local: remove the entry

Petr also suggest disabling all sources from a given host for this Darcs.

This plan will likely change as I gain more experience with Darcs.


During the first weeks I will be focus on getting familiar with Darcs and understanding better how Darcs caching works, then I will start to work in some minor issues which will help me as a coding warm-up . After I have solved those issues I will start to work the actual problem of how to make Darcs expiring the unused cache and doing some refactor in its global cache mechanism. Finally after this job is done, I will work on documentation and testing.

Test plan

Local repositories: If fetching a file for a local repository fail, we check if the fail was given because that local repository doesn’t exist, in such case we added it to the list of bad caches.

Remote Repositories: We have two cases with remote repositories, one that the remote repository doesn’t exist and two that we are receiving time out, if the error is time-out it gets added to the bad caches list, if the error is because the file doesn’t exist, we check if is the repository which doesn’t exist, if that happens we add it to the bad caches list.

For the rest of the command we don’t use the entries in the bad cache list to fetch files.


Following my project plan what I will first deliver will be a document about the caching mechanism, and how it fits in the main view of Darcs, this will also include a package involving patches for the warm-up issues. Finally a major package including code documentation, patches for the issues and a set of tests.

Benefits to the Haskell - Darcs community

Darcs is used as the most common version tools amongst Haskell projects, having improvements on it will certainly be a gain not just for the Haskell hackers but also to the non-Haskellers who use Darcs. Second, Darcs is a prove that Haskell is suitable for real world projects, making it better will support this idea and besides it will attract more people to get involve with Darcs or Haskell.

About me and why I want to work on this project

I’m from Medellin, Colombia. I’m a student of Systems Engineering at EAFIT University. I enjoy spending my time reading, playing guitar, and coding. I have been a Haskell lover for over a year now, it all started while I was abroad in the UK, and I bought Real World Haskell, then when I came back I found a research group in Logic and Computing in my university, and I meet another guy who also likes Haskell, since then we have been studying Haskell, and we have a mini-Haskell user-group ( I say mini, because we are just 3-7 people). Now when the gsoc time came I knew that I wanted to work with Haskell, specially something that could be useful in the real world and for the community, this project fits perfectly in what I wanted, since Darcs is something done in Haskell and doing something related with it will be helpful for the community. Currently I’m teacher assistant of the Compilers lecture, I give a weekly presentation about Haskell to the students trying to get them involve with it.

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