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README.win32.adoc

= Release notes for the Microsoft Windows ports of OCaml =
:toc: macro

There are no fewer than three ports of OCaml for Microsoft Windows, each
available in 32 and 64-bit versions:

- native Windows, built with the Microsoft C/C++ Optimizing Compiler
- native Windows, built using the Mingw-w64 version of GCC
- Cygwin (http://www.cygwin.com[www.cygwin.com])

Here is a summary of the main differences between these ports:

|=====
| | Native Microsoft | Native Mingw-w64 | Cygwin
4+^| Third-party software required
| for base bytecode system | none | none | none
| for `ocamlc -custom` | Microsoft Visual C++ | Cygwin | Cygwin
| for native-code generation | Microsoft Visual C++ | Cygwin | Cygwin
4+^| Features
| Speed of bytecode interpreter | 70% | 100% | 100%
| Replay debugger | yes <<tb2,(**)>> | yes <<tb2,(**)>> | yes
| The Unix library | partial | partial | full
| The Threads library | yes | yes | yes
| Restrictions on generated executables? | none | none | yes <<tb1,(*)>>
|=====

[[tb1]]
(*):: Executables generated by the native GCC package in Cygwin are linked with
the Cygwin DLL and require this to be distributed with your programs.
Executables generated by Microsoft Visual C++ or the Mingw-w64 compilers (even
when run in Cygwin as `i686-w64-mingw32-gcc` or `x86_64-w64-mingw32-gcc`) are
not linked against this DLL. Prior to Cygwin 2.5.2 (the Cygwin version can be
obtained with `uname -r`) the Cygwin DLL is distributed under the GPL, requiring
any programs linked with it to be distributed under a compatible licence. Since
version 2.5.2, the Cygwin DLL is distributed under the LGPLv3 with a static
linking exception meaning that, like executables generated by Microsoft Visual
C++ or the Mingw-w64 compilers, generated executables may be distributed under
terms of your choosing.

[[tb2]]
(**):: The debugger is supported but the "replay" functions are not enabled.
Other functions are available (step, goto, run...).

Cygwin aims to provide a Unix-like environment on Windows, and the build
procedure for it is the same as for other flavours of Unix. See
link:INSTALL.adoc[] for full instructions.

The native ports require Windows XP or later and naturally the 64-bit versions
need a 64-bit edition of Windows (note that this is both to run *and* build).

The two native Windows ports have to be built differently, and the remainder of
this document gives more information.

toc::[]

== PREREQUISITES

All the Windows ports require a Unix-like build environment. Although other
methods are available, the officially supported environment for doing this is
32-bit (x86) Cygwin.

Only the `make` Cygwin package is required. `diffutils` is required if you wish
to be able to run the test suite.

Unless you are also compiling the Cygwin port of OCaml, you should not install
the `gcc-core` or `flexdll` packages. If you do, care may be required to ensure
that a particular build is using the correct installation of `flexlink`.

[[bmflex]]
In addition to Cygwin, FlexDLL must also be installed, which is available from
https://github.com/alainfrisch/flexdll. A binary distribution is available;
instructions on how to build FlexDLL from sources, including how to bootstrap
FlexDLL and OCaml are given <<seflexdll,later in this document>>. Unless you
bootstrap FlexDLL, you will need to ensure that the directory to which you
install FlexDLL is included in your `PATH` environment variable. Note: binary
distributions of FlexDLL are compatible only with Visual Studio 2013 and
earlier; for Visual Studio 2015 and later, you will need to compile the C
objects from source, or build ocaml using the flexdll target.

The base bytecode system (ocamlc, ocaml, ocamllex, ocamlyacc, ...) of all three
ports runs without any additional tools.

== Microsoft Visual C/C++ Ports

=== REQUIREMENTS

The native-code compiler (`ocamlopt`) and static linking of OCaml bytecode with
C code (`ocamlc -custom`) require a Microsoft Visual C/C++ Compiler and the
`flexlink` tool (see <<bmflex,above>>).

Any edition (including Express/Community editions) of Microsoft Visual Studio
2005 or later may be used to provide the required Windows headers and the C
compiler. Additionally, some older Microsoft Windows SDKs include the
Visual C/C++ Compiler as well as the Build Tools for Visual Studio.

|=====
| | `cl` Version | Express | SDK/Build Tools
| Visual Studio 2005 | 14.00.x.x | 32-bit only <<vs1,(*)>> |
| Visual Studio 2008 | 15.00.x.x | 32-bit only | Windows SDK 7.0 also provides 32/64-bit compilers
| Visual Studio 2010 | 16.00.x.x | 32-bit only | Windows SDK 7.1 also provides 32/64-bit compilers
| Visual Studio 2012 | 17.00.x.x | 32/64-bit |
| Visual Studio 2013 | 18.00.x.x | 32/64-bit |
| Visual Studio 2015 | 19.00.x.x | 32/64-bit | Build Tools for Visual Studio 2015 also provides 32/64-bit compilers
| Visual Studio 2017 | 19.10.x.x | 32/64-bit | Build Tools for Visual Studio 2017 also provides 32/64-bit compilers
| Visual Studio 2019 | 19.20.x.x | 32/64-bit | Build Tools for Visual Studio 2019 also provides 32/64-bit compilers
|=====

[[vs1]]
(*):: Visual C++ 2005 Express Edition does not provide an assembler; this can be
downloaded separately from
https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/download/details.aspx?id=12654

=== COMPILATION FROM THE SOURCES

The command-line tools must be compiled from the Unix source distribution
(`ocaml-X.YY.Z.tar.gz`), which also contains the files modified for Windows.
(Note: you should use cygwin's `tar` command to unpack this archive. If you
use WinZip, you will need to deselect "TAR file smart CR/LF conversion" in
the WinZip Options Window.)

Microsoft Visual C/C++ is designed to be used from special developer mode
Command Prompts which set the environment variables for the required compiler.
There are multiple ways of setting up your environment ready for their use. The
simplest is to start the appropriate command prompt shortcut from the program
group of the compiler you have installed.

The details differ depending on whether you are using a Windows SDK to provide
the compiler or Microsoft Visual Studio itself.

For the Windows SDK, there is only one command prompt called "CMD Shell" in
versions 6.1 and 7.0 and "Windows SDK 7.1 Command Prompt" in version 7.1. This
launches a Command Prompt which will usually select a `DEBUG` build environment
for the operating system that you are running. You should then run:

SetEnv /Release /x86

for 32-bit or:

SetEnv /Release /x64

for 64-bit. For Visual Studio 2005-2013, you need to use one of the shortcuts in
the "Visual Studio Tools" program group under the main program group for the
version of Visual Studio you installed. For Visual Studio 2015 and 2017, you
need to use the shortcuts in the "Windows Desktop Command Prompts" (2015) or
"VC" (2017) group under the "Visual Studio Tools" group.

Unlike `SetEnv` for the Windows SDK, the architecture is selected by using a
different shortcut, rather than by running a command.

For Visual Studio 2005-2010, excluding version-specific prefixes, these are
named "Command Prompt" for 32-bit and "x64 Cross Tools Command Prompt" or
"x64 Win64 Command Prompt" for 64-bit. It does not matter whether you use a
"Cross Tools" or "Win64" version for x64, this simply refers to whether the
compiler itself is a 32-bit or 64-bit program; both produce 64-bit output and
work with OCaml.

For Visual Studio 2012 and 2013, both x86 and x64 Command Prompt shortcuts
indicate if they are the "Native Tools" or "Cross Tools" versions. Visual Studio
2015 and 2017 make the shortcuts even clearer by including the full name of the
architecture.

The Build Tools for Visual Studio 2015 and 2017 provide shortcuts similar to
the ones of their respective Visual Studio version.

You cannot at present use a cross-compiler to compile 64-bit OCaml on 32-bit
Windows.

Once you have started a Command Prompt, you can verify that you have the
compiler you are expecting simply by running:

cl
Microsoft (R) C/C++ Optimizing Compiler Version 19.00.23506 for x86
...

You then need to start Cygwin from this Command Prompt. Assuming you have
installed it to its default location of `C:\cygwin`, simply run:

C:\cygwin\bin\mintty -

(note the space and hyphen at the end of the command).

This should open a terminal window and start bash. You should be able to run
`cl` from this. You can now change to the top-level directory of the directory
of the OCaml distribution.

The Microsoft Linker is provided by a command called `link` which unfortunately
conflicts with a Cygwin command of the same name. It is therefore necessary to
ensure that the directory containing the Microsoft C/C++ Compiler appears at
the beginning of `PATH`, before Cygwin's `/usr/bin`. You can automate this from
the top-level of the OCaml distribution by running:

eval $(tools/msvs-promote-path)

If you forget to do this, `make` will fail relatively
quickly as it will be unable to link `ocamlrun`.

Now run:

./configure --build=i686-pc-cygwin --host=i686-pc-windows

for 32-bit, or:

./configure --build=x86_64-unknown-cygwin --host=x86_64-pc-windows

for 64-bit.

Finally, use `make` to build the system, e.g.

make
make install

After installing, it is not necessary to keep the Cygwin installation (although
you may require it to build additional third party libraries and tools). You
will need to use `ocamlopt` (or `ocamlc -custom`) from the same Visual Studio or
Windows SDK Command Prompt as you compiled OCaml from, or `ocamlopt` will not
be able to find `cl`.

If you wish to use `ocamlopt` from Cygwin's bash on a regular basis, you may
like to copy the `tools/msvs-promote-path` script and add the `eval` line to
your `~/.bashrc` file.

* The Microsoft Visual C/C++ compiler does not implement "computed gotos", and
therefore generates inefficient code for `runtime/interp.c`. Consequently,
the performance of bytecode programs is about 2/3 of that obtained under
Unix/GCC, Cygwin or Mingw-w64 on similar hardware.

* Libraries available in this port: `bigarray`, `dynlink`, `num`,
`str`, `threads`, and large parts of `unix`.

* The replay debugger is partially supported (no reverse execution).

=== CREDITS

The initial port of Caml Special Light (the ancestor of OCaml) to Windows NT
was done by Kevin Gallo at Microsoft Research, who kindly contributed his
changes to the OCaml project.

== Mingw-w64 Ports

=== REQUIREMENTS

The native-code compiler (`ocamlopt`) and static linking of OCaml bytecode with
C code (`ocamlc -custom`) require the appropriate Mingw-w64 gcc and the
`flexlink` tool (see <<bmflex,above>>). Mingw-w64 gcc is provided by the
`mingw64-i686-gcc-core` package for 32-bit and the `mingw64-x86_64-gcc-core`
package for 64-bit.

- Do not try to use the Cygwin version of flexdll for this port.

- The standalone mingw toolchain from the Mingw-w64 project
(http://mingw-w64.org/) is not supported. Please use the version packaged in
Cygwin instead.

=== COMPILATION FROM THE SOURCES

The command-line tools must be compiled from the Unix source distribution
(`ocaml-X.YY.Z.tar.gz`), which also contains the files modified for Windows.
(Note: you should use cygwin's `tar` command to unpack this archive. If you
use WinZip, you will need to deselect "TAR file smart CR/LF conversion" in
the WinZip Options Window.)

Now run:

./configure --build=i686-pc-cygwin --host=i686-w64-mingw32

for 32-bit, or:

./configure --build=x86_64-unknown-cygwin --host=x86_64-w64-mingw32

for 64-bit.

Finally, use `make` to build the system, e.g.

make
make install

After installing, you will need to ensure that `ocamlopt` (or `ocamlc -custom`)
can access the C compiler. You can do this either by using OCaml from Cygwin's
bash or by adding Cygwin's bin directory (e.g. `C:\cygwin\bin`) to your `PATH`.

* Libraries available in this port: `bigarray`, `dynlink`, `num`,
`str`, `threads`, and large parts of `unix`.

* The replay debugger is partially supported (no reverse execution).

[[seflexdll]]
== FlexDLL
Although the core of FlexDLL is necessarily written in C, the `flexlink` program
is, naturally, written in OCaml. This creates a circular dependency if you wish
to build entirely from sources. Since OCaml 4.03 and FlexDLL 0.35, it is now
possible to bootstrap the two programs simultaneously. The process is identical
for both ports. If you choose to compile this way, it is not necessary to
install FlexDLL separately -- indeed, if you do install FlexDLL separately, you
may need to be careful to ensure that `ocamlopt` picks up the correct `flexlink`
in your `PATH`.

You must place the FlexDLL sources for Version 0.35 or later in the directory
`flexdll/` at the top-level directory of the OCaml distribution. This can be
done in one of three ways:

* Extracting the sources from a tarball from
https://github.com/alainfrisch/flexdll/releases
* Cloning the git repository by running:
+
git clone https://github.com/alainfrisch/flexdll.git

* If you are compiling from a git clone of the OCaml repository, instead of
using a sources tarball, you can run:
+
git submodule update --init

OCaml is then compiled as normal for the port you require, except that before
building the compiler itself, you must compile `flexdll`, i.e.:

make flexdll
make
make flexlink.opt
make install

* You should ignore the error messages that say ocamlopt was not found.
* `make install` will install FlexDLL by placing `flexlink.exe`
(and the default manifest file for the Microsoft port) in `bin/` and the
FlexDLL object files in `lib/`.
* If you don't include `make flexlink.opt`, `flexlink.exe` will be a
bytecode program. `make install` always installs the "best"
`flexlink.exe` (i.e. there is never a `flexlink.opt.exe` installed).
* If you have populated `flexdll/`, you *must* run
`make flexdll`. If you wish to revert to using an externally
installed FlexDLL, you must erase the contents of `flexdll/` before
compiling.

== Unicode support

Prior to version 4.06, all filenames on the OCaml side were assumed
to be encoded using the current 8-bit code page of the system. Some
Unicode filenames could thus not be represented. Since version 4.06,
OCaml adds to this legacy mode a new "Unicode" mode, where filenames
are UTF-8 encoded strings. In addition to filenames,
this applies to environment variables and command-line arguments.

The mode must be decided before building the system, by tweaking
the `WINDOWS_UNICODE` variable in `Makefile.config`. A value of 1
enables the the new "Unicode" mode, while a value of 0 maintains
the legacy mode.

Technically, both modes use the Windows "wide" API, where filenames
and other strings are made of 16-bit entities, usually interpreted as
UTF-16 encoded strings.

Some more details about the two modes:

* Unicode mode: OCaml strings are interpreted as being UTF-8 encoded
and translated to UTF-16 when calling Windows; strings returned by
Windows are interpreted as UTF-16 and translated to UTF-8 on their
way back to OCaml. Additionally, an OCaml string which is not
valid UTF-8 will be interpreted as being in the current 8-bit code
page. This fallback works well in practice, since the chances of
non-ASCII string encoded in the a 8-bit code page to be a valid
UTF-8 string are tiny. This means that filenames
obtained from e.g. a 8-bit UI or database layer would continue to
work fine. Application written for the legacy mode or older
versions of OCaml might still break if strings returned by
Windows (e.g. for `Sys.readdir`) are sent to components expecting
strings encoded in the current code page.

* Legacy mode: this mode emulates closely the behavior of OCaml <
4.06 and is thus the safest choice in terms of backward
compatibility. In this mode, OCaml programs can only work with
filenames that can be encoded in the current code page, and the
same applies to ocaml tools themselves (ocamlc, ocamlopt, etc).

The legacy mode will be deprecated and then removed in future versions
of OCaml. Users are thus strongly encouraged to use the Unicode mode
and adapt their existing code bases accordingly.

Note: in order for ocaml tools to support Unicode pathnames, it is
necessary to use a version of FlexDLL which has itself been compiled
with OCaml >= 4.06 in Unicode mode. This is the case for binary distributions
of FlexDLL starting from version 0.37 and above.

== Trademarks

Microsoft, Visual C++, Visual Studio and Windows are registered trademarks of
Microsoft Corporation in the United States and/or other countries.