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[sr #110364] obsolete agony

From: Zack Weinberg
Subject: [sr #110364] obsolete agony
Date: Thu, 5 Nov 2020 13:39:47 -0500 (EST)
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:78.0) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/78.0

Follow-up Comment #1, sr #110364 (project autoconf):

First, thank you for trying a build of TeX Live with the new autoconf.  I'm
pleased to hear that this was the only problem you encountered.

I *could* turn off -Wobsolete warnings by default, but I'm very reluctant to
do so.  Most of these macros have been obsolete for a very long time
(AC_TRY_*, for instance, were obsoleted in 2.55, eighteen years ago) -- the
rationale is one or more of:

* the names were considered inconsistent back in the early 2000s (AC_ERROR,
AC_FOREACH, AC_FUNC_VFORK, possibly others)
* the way the macro handles M4 quotation is bad (AC_TRY_*)
* replaced with a more general or featureful mechanism (AC_PROG_CC_C99,
* the portability problem this macro addresses is only relevant if you care
about pre-C89 compilers and/or C libraries, and autoconf itself no longer
supports those environments; you probably don't need to use them at all
* it's not actually obsolete, but you need to give it an argument now to
affirm that you do not depend on a bug in 2.69 (AC_PROG_LEX)

With the exception of the "names considered inconsistent" category, I would
say that use of these macros really is a bug in the configure script, and the
fact that they're still being used in TeX Live and many other packages is in
fact *why* we want to turn these warnings on by default (or, more precisely,
follow automake's decision to do so, for similar reasons).

In most cases the fix is very easy (e.g. change AC_FUNC_VFORK to AC_FUNC_FORK)
and the fixed script will still work fine with 2.69.  It's true that neither
the documentation nor the warning messages do a great job of explaining what
to do in many cases, and that "just run autoupdate" works rather less well
than I'd like.  I have my hands full with code issues and won't be able to
improve the documentation myself, but I'd definitely consider patches (start
with the "Obsolete Macros" section of autoconf.texi).


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