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Re: How many packages use autotools?

From: Bernd Jendrissek
Subject: Re: How many packages use autotools?
Date: Fri, 26 Sep 2003 12:17:30 +0200
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On Thu, Sep 25, 2003 at 10:19:23PM +0100, Roger Leigh wrote:
> Bernd Jendrissek <address@hidden> writes:
> > I am wondering how widespread the use of the autotools is - particularly
> > among projects that are *not* GNU or other Free Software, or even "Open
> > Source" but not-quite Free.  IOW how many in-house completely locked-up
> > proprietary packages use them?
> >
> > It's probably a bit hard to tell, these packages being uber-secret and
> > all.  Any (gu)estimates?

Oops, I suppose it was a bit rude not to mention that *I* have
autoconfiscated this retail card payments server thingie that my
employer uses to make money.

> I use it in all my Free software packages.  I also use it at work, for
> non-free commercial stuff.
> TBH, a lot of commercial software has archaic build processes, since

Or none at all!  Or an ad-hoc process, if you can call that a process.

> there's not the same requirement for repeated building of source on
> multiple platforms--there's one build and the binaries are
> distributed.  Therefore, on DOS many projects are built by hand or
> with batch files and on UNIX, a plain Makefile or shell script will

Then the only guy who knows how it all works leaves, and the
money-spinner turns into a cash cow in a death spiral as the product
gets ever more out-of-date.

> often do.  I'd guess it's used, but far, far less than for Free
> software.

That's the conclusing I'm drawing.

> Free software, being distributed primarily as source, must build
> conveniently and quickly on any user's system.  That's the main reason
> for using autoconf (and automake etc.).  Personally, I've spent
> several hundred hours working on the gimp-print build infrastructure
> alone.  For the stuff I do for work, the company doesn't care how it
> builds as long as they can supply a set of binaries to customers.  In
> addition, commercial pressures mean that there simply isn't time to
> devote to such things--which is just one reason why Free software is
> so oftern of much better quality.
While I find it true, (not accusing anyone!) I don't think we should
become complacent.  As Free Software matures, it too is in danger of
accreting cruft and misfeatures and (gasp!) bugs.  Although I must say,
that the super-mature GNU tools (coreutils, GCC, etc.) have been
bulletproof enough for my uses.  (Still would like to see an arbitrary
code execution eXpl017 for GCC.)

Thanks for everyone's replies!

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