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Re: Fwd: make: you guys are gawds

From: Paul D. Smith
Subject: Re: Fwd: make: you guys are gawds
Date: Wed, 9 May 2001 11:35:23 -0400

%% Stephan Beal <address@hidden> writes:

  sb> Please excuse the non-bug post to address@hidden, but I didn't find 
  sb> another address for the make tool, and 'make@' bounced...

There's also address@hidden FWIW.

Thanks for the kudos.  Some of this must be attributed to the original
inventors of make, though; GNU make added some great new features but
GNU didn't invent make itself.

  sb> I now sometimes wonder if automake's output (or even required user
  sb> inputs, like all source and header filenames) couldn't be cut
  sb> drastically by simply taking advantage of more of make's features,

The thing is, automake generates makefile which will work with any UNIX
make on any system that anyone is using.

There is very little that you can assume to be true for all versions of
make.  Most versions don't have pattern rules (although all have suffix
rules); some don't even have "include".  Most don't allow you to use $<
in an explicit rule (!).  Etc.

There is a POSIX.2 definition of make, but it's very weak (it doesn't
have "include" either, for example), and some makes probably don't even
conform 100% to that meager definition.

The goal with autoconf/automake is to allow GNU packages to be
maintained easily, and with maximum portability.  That means they don't
want to require that you install GNU make on your system before you can
build them, or that you must use GCC as your compiler, etc. etc.

Just be happy _you_ don't need to worry about that extreme level of
portability, and enjoy GNU make's advanced features :).

 Paul D. Smith <address@hidden>          Find some GNU make tips at:            
 "Please remain calm...I may be mad, but I am a professional." --Mad Scientist

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