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Re: automake/autoconf/libtool -- convince me

First of all, thanks for bringing this up, Joey! This is a problem and
we should address it.

On Tue, Jun 10, 2003 at 02:09:24PM -0400, Joey Hess wrote:
 JH> How I handle automake and autoconf now is I try to avoid touching
 JH> the unholy mess at all if I can. But as soon as I need to modify
 JH> any of the template files (configure.ac, Makefile.am, etc), I
 JH> switch the package over to build-depend on the tools, run them at
 JH> build time, and clean up all generated files at clean time. I may
 JH> be moving toward always doing this, even if I don't currently touch
 JH> any template files.

A case to the point: I can't build Mutt with NNTP patch from Vsevolod
Volkov (http://mutt.org.ua/), because Debian Mutt has patches that
modify Makefile.in, while Vsevolod's patch modifies Makefile.am. 

Look at how Colin's major points apply to this situation.

1. Go upstream for major changes.

NNTP patch is very large piece of functionality that _needs_ to hack
upstream source, and in the same time there is no sense in going
upstream: upstream Mutt is not yet ready to accept changes of that
magnitude into itself, and that is why Marco rightfully refuses to
include this patch into the official Debian Mutt package, too. Yet, I
need this functionality now, and together with latest Debian Mutt.

2. Start hacking from upstream source, not from Debian package.

First of all, I want a Debian package, not some /usr/local installation,
and on top of that, Debian Mutt package includes a lot of nice things
(not to mention security hot-fixes) that end up in the upstream
eventually, but not soon enough.

3. Primarily, make the Debian package build well.

That is not the first priority: for end-user, it should work well; for
developer, it should not only build well, but also patch well. Patching
a package that modifies generated files sucks: try to build a Debian
Mutt with NNTP, if you don't believe that.

4. We're stuck with autotools as they are, portability breaks, etc.

If we have a problem with the toolchain, we will never get it solved by
walking around it, we can only fix it if we do it properly, and solve
all the problems that this ensues. We don't have a marketing breathing
down our necks, and isn't Debian supposed to be The Best OS?

Dmitry Borodaenko

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