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Here is the latest Caml Weekly News, week 15 to 22 April, 2003.

1) Ocaml SciTE mode
2) Web server in Caml / SSL support?
3) OCaml signal handlers (Sys.signal) and C code
4) cross compilation
5) A step short of -noautolink?

1) Ocaml SciTE mode
Lionel Durigneux wrote:

Do you know the SciTE editor ?  (free for Linux & Windows, with src, see or

If anyone is interested about editing Ocaml source code with SciTE (and
running by F5), copy this file below at the right place
(among other .properties  of your SciTE) (This file is inspired by and I use it with success since I
write some code with ocaml under windows NT4 and Linux Redhat 7.3.

nota: you can press F5 to run the edited code running under labelgtk
when the file extension is .mlg (if you get better, tell me)

# Define SciTE settings for ocaml.

filter.ocaml=OCAML (ml mli mlg)|$(file.patterns.ocaml)|

# ocaml build in functions, xlisp dialect
keywords.$(file.patterns.ocaml)= not defun + - * / = < > <= >= princ
eval apply funcall identity function complement lambda set setq setf
defun defmacro gensym make symbol intern symbol name symbol value symbol plist get
getf putprop remprop hash make array aref cons list append reverse last nth
nthcdr member assoc subst sublis nsubst nsublis remove length list length
delete null eq eql equal cond case and or let prog
go return do catch except throw error break
float min max abs sin cos tan expt exp sqrt
integer length nil do done match with for to if then else rec downto ref
begin end unit while let and type in mutable string int of raise try not struct   
sig module class val method new print_int print_string open load
#= [ ] : { } <- @ # ;

word.characters.$(file.patterns.ocaml)=$(word.chars.ocaml)**)* **)

# ocaml styles

# Default
# White space
# Line Comment
# Number
# Keyword
# String
# Operators
# Identifiers
# End of line where string is not closed
# Matched Operators
# Braces are only matched in operator style

command.go.*.ml=c:WORKAREAOCamlbinocaml.exe $(FilePath)
command.go.*.mlg=c:WORKAREAOCamlbinlablgtk.bat $(FilePath)

2) Web server in Caml / SSL support?
Stefano Zacchiroli said:

Do you need a web server application or a library to write your own web

In the latter case I've written a library similar to the perl's
HTTP::Daemon one. It's available on my homepage:

and also linked from the humps (just search for "http").

He then added:

I forget to mention that actually no SSL support is available.

3) OCaml signal handlers (Sys.signal) and C code
Stefano Zacchiroli asked and Xavier Leroy answered:

> I've noticed that a callback registered using Sys.signal function for
> the Sys.sigalrm signal isn't called while executing external C code.
> The execution is delayed until the C code execution is over.
> Is there any way to avoid this behaviour? (Actually the only solution I
> see is to modify the C code so that handler is registered there, but I'm
> working with an external library which is not under my own control)
> Is this an intended behaviour or a bug?

Very much intended behavior.  OCaml signal handlers can execute
arbitrary Caml code, including heap allocations and garbage
collections.  If they could be invoked at any time, e.g. in the middle
of a garbage collection, disaster would ensue.

However, there is one workaround for long-running pieces of C code
that do not access the Caml heap: in the Caml/C stub code, wrap the
call to the C function as follows:

        /* call C functions */

In the "blocking section" that is bracketed by the calls to
enter_blocking_section() and leave_blocking_section(), signals will be
honored immediately.  However, the C code executed inside the blocking
section *must not* heap-allocate nor access the Caml heap in any way.
In practice, this means that all conversions between Caml and C data
structures must be done outside the blocking section:

        /* extract arguments from Caml data, copying them to stack-allocated
           blocks or malloc()-ed blocks */
        /* call C functions */
        /* convert C results to Caml data */

For examples of use, you can look at the C stub codes in e.g. otherlibs/unix
in the OCaml distribution.

Then Stefano Zacchiroli asked and Damien Doligez answered:

>Your "in any way" include also read only access (e.g. "Field" 
>on a caml value allocated outside the blocking section), right?


>If this is the case I'm a bit concerned about performances. I have a
>piece of C code, invoked by OCaml, that access caml values inside a
>loop. To convert this code so that it can be interrupted by ocaml
>callbacks I have to enter blocking before each access and exit

Actually, you have to leave blocking before the access and enter

> Is this entering/existing time consuming?

Unless you use threads, this is only one C function call, two tests,
and three assignments.  Not very time consuming, but you still don't
want to do it within an inner loop.

If this is too much overhead, here is what I would recommend.
Instead of calling leave_blocking_section and enter_blocking_section  
around each heap access, you can treat the pair of calls:
   enter_blocking_section ();
   leave_blocking_section ();
as a way to poll for signals.  It will test for any pending signals
and call the handlers immediately.  If you call it once every 100 or
1000 loop executions, the overhead should be quite small.

4) cross compilation
Andy Chou asked and Xavier Leroy answered:

> Is there any support for cross-compilation for the native code compiler?  
> Interpretation simply won't cut it for the application I'm working with.
> The native code compiler can generate code for many different 
> architectures, and it appears that most of the codegen is written in
> O'Caml itself.  gcc has support for cross-compilation/linking.  Putting
> these together, virtually all of the work has been done.  Is there
> anything to it other than properly structuring the configuration and 
> build?

I believe "properly structuring the configuration and build" should
suffice to get ocamlopt to cross-compile, however this is probably not

Christian Gillot did a cross-compiler for the ARM, see
but he didn't detail the build process...

5) A step short of -noautolink?
Greg Kimberly asked:

I'm new to caml so apologies if this is too obvious.

I've installed Gerd Stolpmann's intriguing ocamlnet package. It and the   
required prerequisites (e.g. findlib) installed with only one problem on my
RedHat 8 system. The one problem is that prerequisite package pcre-ocaml
(version 5.02.0) contains a .cma file that refers to the pcre library. On
RedHat 8 the pre-installed version of libpcre is 3.9-5 (it is in /lib/), 
while pcre-ocaml v5.02 needs a newer libpcre (I downloaded 4.1 and  
installed it in /usr/local/lib/).

So far, so good. Unfortunately, the default build for the examples fails
because the examples implicitly include pcre.cma which contains linker
directives which cause the /lib/ to be linked- which is the
wrong version. At this point I can see two possible fixes:

Upgrade the version of libpcre in /lib - not good in the general case as it
might cause compatiblility problems elsewhere

Use -noautolink in the example makefile to suppress the inclusion of the
linker directive -lpcre which has been inherited from pcre.cma

This is the solution I'm using but it seems non-optimal to throw away all
included linker directives just to remove one unwanted dependency. Is there
some better way to deal with this issue that I'm overlooking? Is there some
way to tell camlc to ignore a particular inherited directive from a .cma?

This concern may seem pedantic, but I find that figuring out how to do
these sorts of things efficiently when starting to use a development
environment makes life a lot easier down the road.

Jacques Garrigue answered:

After some fiddling I think I have a solution to your problem.

You can change the autolink information in a .cma by relinking it,
with the -noautolink option.

If you just want to strip this information you can write:
ocamlc -a -noautolink -o mypcre.cma pcre.cma

But you can also replace it with correct information:
ocamlc -a -noautolink -o mypcre.cma pcre.cma -custom \
  -ccopt -L/usr/local/lib -cclib -lpcre_stubs -cclib -lpcre
(I'm not sure of the library name for pcre stubs)

Note that all this may be irrelevant to dynamically loaded stubs: in
that case details about where to find the C library are inside
dll???.so, and you cannot change them. However, you can change the
load path with LD_LIBRARY_PATH (the system is at work in this
case, and ocaml knows nothing about it).

Gerd Stolpmann added:

You can also set LD_RUN_PATH when you build the dll???.so. In this case,
the path is stored in the file, and is automatically remembered when the
library is loaded.

And Jacques Garrigue answered:

Actually this is not an answer to the original question: it was about
changing the linking/path for an already built library.
My point was just that, unfortunately you cannot go into dll???.so to
modify it afterwards individually.

But ocamlmklib also builds lib???.a, which contains exactly the same
objects as dll???.so. So you can also act in this case by re-building
dll???.so from lib???.a, if you know enough about your system's
linker. (Currently when you compile C files with ocamlc, this produces
PIC objets, so that lib???.a shall contain only PIC objects, but this may
change in the future.)

If you want to set the runpath at build time with ocamlmklib, you can
already do it with the -rpath option. LD_RUN_PATH may be an
alternative on some systems.

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Alan Schmitt