Now I’m a bit afraid to answer as an official voice, I’m not. So please let me prefix with: this is my view on things.
head.hackage is primarily a way to fix packages ahead of upstream to test compilation (and maybe testsuites) against them. It’s mostly an aid in ghc development. We do run head.hackage tests occasionally, but they are not part of regular CI runs, and I’m not sure how much attention anyone pays to them really
I have started working on full blast tests for compilers. If this was further along, we might have been able to test earlier compilers faster. It’s however just a side project Hamish and I work on occasionally. I wish we’d had something like this in better shape. Quite frankly the resource use is intense, and we’ll need to find a better solution on reporting for regressions, …
We’ll likely run this against 9.2.1 soon’ish.
To go back to your earlier point, yes it would possible to set up some smaller tests for shipped packages. It just needs someone to actually write that CI job. Especially once we have building and testing separated into two distinct CI stages. GHC dev is seriously short on manpower. I’d be happy to provide any form guidance, mentoring and assistance!