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Re: debbugs, and a FAQ, for Autotools

From: Ralf Hemmecke
Subject: Re: debbugs, and a FAQ, for Autotools
Date: Wed, 23 Feb 2011 22:42:17 +0100
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; U; Linux i686; en-US; rv: Gecko/20101207 Thunderbird/3.1.7

Sure. But it is also relevant if one developer adds a macro which is
only available in some recent version of automake, say. Another
developer might not yet have that automake version.

It doesn't really seem any worse than _any_ potential tool
incompatibility problem -- compiler version, library version, etc --

Usually those issues aren't such a huge deal, because most project try
to be relatively portable, and when version dependencies do crop up,
they can be dealt with relatively well using simple checks in the
configure script.

Isn't that what people usually do about autoconf versions too (declare a
minimum version in

Yes.  You can even declare a maximum (or exact) version, too, if that is
what you need.  We did that in GCC, see the _GCC_AUTOCONF_VERSION_CHECK
macro in
and with Automake, it should work at least to test $am__api_version at
configure time.  I guess we should make it possible to test easily at
m4 run time too ...

Fine, but do you expect every developer to be able to write good m4 macros? Or search the Internet for macros that could be relevant for ones own project?

I know projects where people (mis-)use autotools even if their project is not fitting in a standard C project, just to gain a bit more portability and achieve standard makefile targets where otherwise most developers would program in a project specific langauge.

Is there actually a good reason, why the autotools are distributed as separate packages (autoconf, automake, libtool, m4)? (Maybe even pkg-config, but I still don't yet know exactly whether it is good for me.)

Nowadays, it's certainly not a question of diskstorage anymore and it would probably ease autotools acceptance if there were just one software to install. (Just a suggestion.)

(and I guess this is worth another FAQ entry ...)



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