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make distcheck not finding custom code generation script

From: Andreas Ntaflos
Subject: make distcheck not finding custom code generation script
Date: Sat, 13 May 2006 08:59:12 +0200
User-agent: KMail/1.9.1

Hello list, 

this is my first post here, and it is regarding `make distcheck'. What I 
have to do is a bit tricky to explain but hopefully I can make myself 
clear enough to get some input from more experienced automake users 
than me (I am basically a newbie). I would really appreciate it.


To build successfully, my package needs two files ( and foo.hh) 
that are generated during build time from another file ( using 
a special program, let's call it `foo2cpp'. This program's path is 
machine/installation dependent and is determined during configure time 
and set correctly by the m4 macro that checks for it. This m4 makro 
creates a Makefile variable $(ICE_FOO2CPP) which looks like this: 
`../tools/ /correct/path/to/foo2cpp'.

You see, in the topmost directory of my package there is a directory 
`tools' which contains a `' script. This is needed to set 
various paths (like LD_LIBRARY_PATH) in order for foo2cpp to run 
correctly on all test machines. So to translate to and 
foo.hh I need to run (in my $(topdir)/src subdirectory) 

../tools/ /path/to/foo2cpp

In src/ there is a target that does just that: foo.hh:

It does so very nicely. Remember $(ICE_FOO2CPP) is set during configure 
after the m4 macro checked for it.

These generated files are of course not part of the distribution but are 
nodist_foo_SOURCES and set in BUILT_SOURCES, accoring to the automake 
info section on built sources. This part is working fine.

I of course included the tools/ script in EXTRA_DIST in the 
top level I am also including in EXTRA_DIST of 

What works:

configuring and making the package is no problem at all, everything is 
set correctly and compiling fine. Making a distribution with `make 
dist' and then unpacking and building this distribution is also no 

What doesn't work:

The problem is that `make distcheck' fails right at the beginning of the 
build process, after configuring. It complains about not finding the 
tools/ script:

make[1]: Entering directory `/path/to/foo_project/foo-1.0/_build'
make  all-recursive
make[2]: Entering directory `/path/to/foo_project/foo-1.0/_build'
Making all in src
make[3]: Entering directory `/path/to/foo_project/foo-1.0/_build/src'
../tools/ /usr/bin/foo2cpp
make[3]: ../tools/ Command not found

Which is correct, there is no script from where make 
distcheck is looking (i.e. from 
inside /path/to/foo_project/foo-1.0/_build/src). Also there are no 
other files in foo-1.0/_build/src, so even if the script 
could be found it would choke on not finding

The script is in foo-1.0/tools where it belongs and where it 
is found fine when building a readily distributed package of foo (make 


The question is: what do I have to do to satisfy make distcheck about 
the location of the script? Or am I doing something wrong here? Did I 
forget to set a special variable that lets make distcheck know that 
there are files that need to be built from other files before being 
able to `make' anyting? Do I have to define the path to the script 
otherwise? Please note that I encountered the same problem when the script was placed directly in the src/ subdirectory (and 
distributed correctly). 

Or did I hit a limitation of automake? Is it not able to deal with such 

To reiterate: building a `make dist'ed package works fine and so does 
building the package in it's root directory. It's just make distcheck 
that fails.

Sorry for this much too long post, I hope I explained my problem well 
enough for somebody (who was brave enough to read it all) to be able to 
help me.

Any help is appreciated! Especially RTFM answers that contain links to 
TFM and the relevant sections :)

Thanks in advance!

Andreas "daff" Ntaflos 
daff AT dword DOT org
Vienna, Austria 

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