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libtool 'make dist' violates free software principles

From: Bob Friesenhahn
Subject: libtool 'make dist' violates free software principles
Date: Sun, 30 Jun 2002 12:41:13 -0500 (CDT)

The libtool makefiles contain code which is designed to ensure that
the user can not perform a 'make dist' to create a libtool
distribution with local changes unless the user has FSF CVS commit
access.  This error message is printed and make stops:

  "Cannot make dist before commit"

This violates the GPL principle that users should be allowed to create
their own distributions of free software packages.  There are
perfectly valid reasons for end-users to be able to create versions of
GPLed packages which incorporate non FSF-approved updates.  One such
reason is that libtool needs to be installed on multiple machines in
order to validate/develop improvements to the package.

There is commentary in the top that setting CVS to ':'
should disable any CVS activities.  Unfortunately, this does not work:

% gmake 'CVS=:' dist
dir=`echo demo/Makefile | sed 's,^[^/]*$,.,;s,/[^/]*$,,'`; \
test -d $dir || mkdir $dir || exit 1; \
abs_srcdir=`cd . && pwd`; \
(cd $dir && $abs_srcdir/$dir/configure) || exit 1
/bin/bash: /home/bfriesen/src/gnu/libtool/demo/configure: bad
interpreter: Permission denied
gmake: *** [demo/Makefile] Error 1

The limitations which have been added to libtool's Makefiles are very
short-sighted and hinder the development of free software.

Bob Friesenhahn

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