Subject: Re: make and comments
To: der Mouse <mouse@Rodents.Montreal.QC.CA>
From: Berndt Josef Wulf <>
List: tech-userlevel
Date: 07/29/2002 11:17:38
der Mouse wrote
[ Charset ISO-8859-1 unsupported, converting... ]
> >> [T]he current [autoconf] maintainers seem to have a tendency to get
> >> blinded by features in the few make programs they commonly use.
> > I have nothing more to add here; I've always found GNU auto* to be
> > rather a restraint to portability than an aid.
> Amen.  I hate autoconf.  Or more precisely, I hate dealing with
> configure scripts generated by autoconf.  For people who are willing
> to roll over and accept the defaults, they doubtless work very well.
> But I'm not.  And the defaults are wrong often enough, and convincing
> it that I know better than it does when it guesses wrong is hard
> enough, that the balance is way over on the negative side.
> In particular, its idea of how things should be installed bears little
> resemblance to mine.  It usually can be persuaded to do something at
> least somewhat like my way, but it needs at least three or four options
> for simple programs, more like six or eight for more complicated ones,
> to do so.  Two- and three-hundred character "configure" command lines
> are common in my build scripts for configure-using software - and I
> often have post-configure patches on top of that.  And it takes me six
> or eight iterations, usually taking the time for most of a full build
> each time, to find all the lurking things I need to override and/or
> patch to get it right.  And of course they're never documented.
> > Of course, that's also because many people just write
> > autoconf/make/libtool scripts with unportable assumptions.
> Yes, I suppose, to be fair, I should remark that I don't know whether
> this is a problem with autoconf or a problem with how autoconf is
> commonly used.  I just know that when I see an install document that
> says to run ./configure, my reaction is "oh hell, not _another_
> friggin' "configure" script to struggle with".

In coming to the support of 'autoconf', I believe it is to the greater
extend a matter of how 'autoconf' is applied in view of portibility
and configuration flexibility of a particular application.
This utility has all the bells and whistles to fullfill these requirements,
however, a great many developer don't use it to it's advantage.

Many applications are written on and for Linux platforms. In this case
the authors may need feedback from developers whishing to port
these applications to other platforms and in most cases welcome
and accommodate these requests. 

For the remaining applications a "bad autoconfiguration procedure" may be
due to lack of knowledge/interest or bad coding practise on part of the
application's author.

cheerio Berndt
Name    : Berndt Josef Wulf            | +++ With BSD on Packet Radio +++
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