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Question about distcleancheck behaviour

From: Gaetan Nadon
Subject: Question about distcleancheck behaviour
Date: Fri, 02 Oct 2009 14:30:51 -0400

Our components use "foreign" and "dist-bzip2" options. We distribute the
tarballs. When running distclean, the tarballs are not removed from the
build tree. This is not a problem for us. I was wondering if this is a
conscious design decision or an omission. 

The reason for asking is the behaviour of distcleancheck. When I build
(using a VPATH build), the tarballs are not removed and it issues an
error about files being left in the distdir. If it was a design
decision, then there should be no errors. If it was an omission, then it
should be fixed.

The behaviour of distcheck tends to confirm it is  an omission. The
distcheck target creates a VPATH build and the tarballs. It calls
distcleancheck to prove that the directory is now empty. It knows that
distcleancheck will not remove the tarballs because it removes them just
before making the call:

          && rm -rf $(DIST_ARCHIVES) \
          && $(MAKE) $(AM_MAKEFLAGS) distcleancheck

Now distcheck claims that the distribution cleaning was completed
successfully, but this is not true. The tarballs were left behind but
distcheck removed them itself. You get different results whether you use
distcheck to verify the distribution or dist followed by

Adding DISTCLEANFILES = the tarballs works ok. 

automake (GNU automake) 1.10.2
autoconf (GNU Autoconf) 2.63


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