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Re: Should -dev packages providing .pc files depend on pkg-config?

On Mon, 2008-04-07 at 22:12 -0700, Steve Langasek wrote:
> Any package that wants to use .pc files during its build is going to invoke
> pkg-config directly, and changing your -dev package to recommend a different
> means of linking to the library won't cause this reference to disappear.
> That's a build-dependency.

It's also a lot of packages - does such a dependency ever become
inferred by other packages? It probably shouldn't, for your reasons
above, so this would appear to be a case for a lintian check.
If ./configure exists and calls pkg-config or configure.in|ac calls
pkg-config or uses an m4 macro that calls pkg-config, the package should
build-depend on pkg-config ? (We don't seem to have many lintian checks
on Build-Depends.)

I think the -dev package should not depend on pkg-config - whichever
packages choose to use pkg-config to retrieve the data in the .pc file
needs to depend on pkg-config. The -dev package doesn't call

IMHO, the package providing the .pc file has no need to force any
dependency on packages using the -dev. It is perfectly possible to avoid
pkg-config but if you are linking against several -dev packages which
all provide .pc files, it is inevitable that the package will be better
off with pkg-config.

This, in many ways, is no different to a build-depends on debhelper or
dpatch. The package is using an existing tool as a direct component of
the build in situations where another method might be possible
(hardcoding the --libs and --cflags output) but not usually desirable.
Yes, packages do build without debhelper but it is certainly easier (and
desirable for most packages to avoid repeating the same bugs) to use
debhelper. Similarly with pkg-config - you can build packages without it
but it does make life easier and it does solve some problems inherent in
other methods. (It brings in one or two problems of its own too.)

(In terms of cross-building / debian-xcontrol, Simon, it's a


Neil Williams

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