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Notes on Installing Writefreely on a Guix System

Before lunch I successfully got Nginx to run on my desktop computer, which is running the GuixSD operating system.

My goal is still getting a federated communication platform up, though the more I give consideration to it, the more I think this might be the opportunity and excuse I need to stop microblogging: maybe email should be my federated communication platform of choice. Or, letter-writing, which I think is probably still best implemented through email.

That said, I would like to host my documents through a WriteFreely instance, so I can be followed via ActivityPub, so I’m going to get on with that, rather than shift gears from Nginx to email.

So… I hate to say it but, I want to do this right, and I think that means creating a Guix package for Writefreely.

Dang. Back to the Guix Reference Manual, this time Section 14: “Contributing,” since it has a subsection on packaging.

This section starts with some instructions for setting up the “Perfect Setup,” which looks like it’d be really useful… if I knew more about Emacs and such.

So I’m going to skip to 14.4, “Packaging Guidelines.”

And… realize I’m way in over my head. Happenstance, I’ve just received a message from about my progress with learning Guix, so I’m going to ask them if making a package is the right way to go, before I sink my teeth into this. They’ve answered:

I don’t know this software, so I can’t be sure. I think you will need to create a package for it first, and then a service. They are two separate things. The service-type simply uses the package defined in guix.

For writting your first package, I suggest reading

Then you’ll probably have to look at actual package definitions for go packages that are a bit different from gnu packages. See go-build-system in the manual

I asked them to explain what they meant by “[t]he service-type simply uses the package defined in [G]uix,” and they said:

A service-type like nginx-service-type is a declaration. When the manual says it’s from (gnu services web) it actually means it’s a scheme variable that was created in a file called gnu/services/web.scm, in the Guix repo. It’s much more messy than a package definition though… So you’ll have to create the package first, then your service definition will make use of it.

I didn’t really understand that answer, completely, but what I did understand is: Yes, writing a package definition is the right place to start.

Before I do that though, I’m going to just try and run it plainly - download the latest binary, config, and run, following the instructions here:

Which… when I try to run the binary inside that, gets me bash: ./writefreely: No such file or directory. The file is executable, so this - in the past - has meant it’s for 32bit and I’m on 64bit, or vice-versa.

Running uname -a I see I’m on x86_64, and the binary is for amd64. I think those are different platforms, so I guess it’s time to build the package! I was going to do that as the next step even if the binary worked.

Writefreely’s documentation on this is a bit terse:

I need Go 1.10 or higher, and Node.js

Let’s… this sounds like a good opportunity to learn how to do an environment with Guix.

But, so I don’t get confused later, I’m going to write down the process ahead - I’ll probably have to take a break soon, and don’t want to lose my stride:

Okay so uh… I think I can just do… guix environment to make a little spot to muck around it.

And then guix install go and guix install node to install those two packages…

Hmm well even if I exit that environment I still have go installed so clearly I did that wrong. But I don’t think it really matters.

Writefreely’s docs tell me to run this command:

go get -d

Which holy crap fetches a lot of dependencies. Modern software is crazy complex stacks, huh?

But then… I’m in an empty folder? But now my home directory has a go/ folder, which has pkg/ and src/ subdirectories.

Searching online got me to this:

Which tells me to go to ~/src/ and make build.

One problem: I don’t have make installed as a command. I recall reading that the gnu-build-system provided such tools, which would probably inform how I accomplish the Writefreely package. But for now? Hmm. I mean, let’s try guix install make. It’s a package, will it be the right one?

Seems to be. I needed to also do GOPATH=~/go and export PATH="$PATH:$GOPATH/bin"

make build gets me an error - apparently I don’t have as, whatever that is. Poking around online hints me toward installing the gcc-toolchain package - I got to this issue whose t itle mimics my error, and then searched the Guix Reference Manual for “gcc”: I get a new error now:

In file included from /gnu/store/h90vnqw0nwd0hhm1l5dgxsdrigddfmq4-glibc-2.28/include/errno.h:28:0,
		 from cgo-gcc-prolog:29:
/gnu/store/h90vnqw0nwd0hhm1l5dgxsdrigddfmq4-glibc-2.28/include/bits/errno.h:26:26: fatal error: linux/errno.h: No such file or directory

Well. Sounds like maybe installing glibc was the wrong package?

But I’m at a loss as to… what package would be the right one. I don’t understand enough of the various compilation toolkits to be doing more than taking guesses.

So, let’s paste error messages into search engines and see what comes up. This thread:

It says to install linux-libre-headers. Which tells me to remove glibc. I do, and then install linux-libre-headers without issue.

Let’s try make build again? Damn! Same error: linux/errno.h: No such file or directory. That thread was the only result for "guix" "linux/errno.h: No such file or directory" so now I’m truly at a loss.

Well, it does sill look like it’s looking in the store for glibc. Is that perhaps the problem? Let me try garbage collecting, can’t hurt. Didn’t help, though.

Omg. I’m an idiot. A skim-reading, half-illiterate idiot. So I uninstalled linux-libre-headers and reinstalled glibc and at the end, it says this:

export CPATH="/home/emsenn/.guix-profile/include${CPATH:+:}$CPATH"
export LIBRARY_PATH="/home/emsenn/.guix-profile/lib${LIBRARY_PATH:+:}$LIBRARY_PATH"

So I did that and then did make build and, it worked.

I’m learning: read slower. It’s been a big help so far in doing all this, but gosh. It’s hard - there’s so much I can’t understand, it’s hard to read every line.

Okay. Well, a lesson to anyone who reads this: I said I was at a loss and kept plugging at it, and got it to work.

Moving on!

I’m using this still:

It says to run this command: ./cmd/writefreely/writefreely --config

That works, takes me through the configuration process. Now, make run should get me an instance running at the configured address - http://localhost:8080 for now.

It works! There’s no stylesheet - whoops, I missed a step- make ui.

Which, of course, errors. I’m going to read this error. Slowly.

So I input make ui, and it tells me it’s entering the directory ./less/. It then says shows me the output of the which command, telling me there’s no lessc found. That message repeats several times.

Then it says something I can’t interpret so well:

node_modules/.bin/lessc app.less --clean-css="--s1 --advanced" ../static/css/write.css
/gnu/store/q19l04vd2za80mk1845pz7r8cz29qk43-bash-minimal-4.4.23/bin/sh: node_modules/.bin/lessc: No such file or directory

I install node, then do cd less && npm install less less-plugin-clean-css.

I cd back into the writefreely directory and then do make ui. It fails - lessc complains it can’t find env. I do which env to see where it is, then edit lessc to match.

I make ui again, and no errors. I make run and go back to http://localhost:8080 and… it’s there and has CSS. Wonderful.

This is what my goal product is.

Except… it’s complaining that it can’t store cookies. Whoops - I missed a step, between all the hopping between manuals - runnign writefreely --gen-keys from within the ./writefreely source directory.

So. Cool! I have a functional writefreely instance.

Now I have to learn how to do that again, but… as a package.

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