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automake/autoconf -- a bug and some deficiencies

From: Peter Breitenlohner
Subject: automake/autoconf -- a bug and some deficiencies
Date: Thu, 18 Apr 2002 10:46:46 +0200 (CEST)


I just fetched and built a package FOO-xx.x and in doing so, I noticed the
following problems (on Linux, but neiter this nor the name or version of the
package matters):

"configure --help" says:
  --mandir=DIR          man documentation [PREFIX/man]
i.e. claims that the default mandir is PREFIX/man, but inspection of the
configure script reveals
Please don't misunderstand me. I am not addressing the questions whether
mandir should be "PREFIX/man" or "PREFIX/share/man"; this is an evolving
`standard' which I have to (an can) live with. But I am objecting to the
discrepancy between the "configure --help" output and reality.

I consider this discrepancy a bug (or, if you wish, a lie).

configure.in for that package starts with
        dnl Some hacks...
        test "$prefix" = "NONE" && prefix="/usr"
i.e. with some hacks to change autoconf's builtin default prefix.
Again, this is not reflected in the "configure --help" output, and actually
I see no decent way to achieve this.

I think some autoconf macros to that end (changing some of the defaults for a
package and simultaneously modifying the "configure --help" output) would be
highly desirable/useful.

The package FOO supports NLS, but --disable-nls doesn't work as expected (by
me). It is true that the message catalogs were not installed, however the
translations of the manpages into various languages were installed.

I think, here a general autoconf/automake mechanism is lacking. There should
be a way for the user of a package (i.e. installer) to select which, if any,
of the translations for various documentation files are to be installed.
These are first of all manpages (with more or less well defined installation
paths for the translations) but this could as well apply to other kinds of
documentation files.

In my opinion there should be a concept to handle these questions in

Peter Breitenlohner <address@hidden>

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