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how to detect broken install-sh?

From: Brian Gough
Subject: how to detect broken install-sh?
Date: Sat, 26 Sep 2009 21:42:43 +0100
User-agent: Wanderlust/2.14.0 (Africa) Emacs/22.2 Mule/5.0 (SAKAKI)


I'd like to hear thoughts about the best way to detect a broken install-sh.

I have accidentally made a release of a GNU package with a very old
copy of install-sh from 1996!! [1].  This install-sh has completely
broken behavior when used with recent versions of automake -- it only
installs one file and moves it instead of copying, due to differences
in the options handling.

I believe the old copy was a stray file from when I converted the
repository from CVS to git last year.  Afterwards I only used
autoreconf -i without --force so it was never updated.

I didn't notice the problem on my local system because ./configure
finds /usr/bin/install (so install-sh is never used) and the release
passed "make distcheck".  Fortunately most other people seem to have a
working /usr/bin/install as well so they haven't noticed (see [2] for
an exception).

Maybe it would be good to have a check for problems with install-sh.
I can see a couple of ways this could be done:

  - make distcheck could (i) use install-sh and (ii) independently
    check that all files which are supposed to be installed actually
    do get installed.

  - AC_PROG_INSTALL could confirm that the install program it finds
    works in the way it will be used in "make install" and give an
    error otherwise.

What would be the best way?  Do you think this might cause other

Brian Gough

GNU Scientific Library -

[1] It's if you want to see it.


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