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Re: afraid to build from source?

[Goswin von Brederlow]
> Even make breaks from time to time. I distinctly remeber an update of
> make that caused problems. There are also several gcc versions that
> are quite different in their behaviour.

Yes, and we treat such instances as bugs and fix them - whether it's
fixing your packages or fixing the tools.  We don't just try to avoid
ever running the development tools on the expectation that they'll
probably fail.

I don't see why we should give autoconf and automake special treatment.
We control their distribution in Debian, we should be able to control
whether they break.  Saying that we can't control their stability, and
that developers should just avoid relying on them to work, is
abdicating an important responsibility of a maintainer.

> But unlike automake/autoconf we only have one version of make in the
> archive and everything is fixed to work with it.

It seems to me that the multiple automakes in debian are a _feature_
which allow you to safely build-depend on the one you need, since they
aren't all alike.  Not a reason to avoid using automake at build time.
If you can't figure out how to build-depend on the same version of
automake your upstream uses ... uh, you have a few things to learn
about package maintenance.

As for autoconf, there's only been one major interface break in the
past ten years, at 2.50.  Regressions and interface changes since 2.50
should be treated as bugs to be fixed, until such time as upstream
declares that they're once again breaking the API on purpose, like they
did in 2.50.

> It probably is due to the fact that you can change the source and
> build it without altering the configure.in/Makefile.am/Makefile.in
> files in most cases.

It's true that you can, but it's no excuse.  Upstream has reason to
ship pre-built automake/autoconf output, because historically, random
users could be expected to have 'make' and a C compiler, but couldn't
be expected to have autoconf.  In Debian we are not constrained by
that, we should not have to avoid building packages entirely from

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