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Re: Non-Debian packaging practice



On Sat, Mar 11, 2006 at 01:41:54PM -0500, Joe Smith wrote:
> "Junichi Uekawa" <dancer@netfort.gr.jp> wrote in message 
> 87bqwdxo90.dancerj%dancer@netfort.gr.jp">news:87bqwdxo90.dancerj%dancer@netfort.gr.jp...
> >Hi,
> >
> >>Is there a document describing software packaging good practices for
> >>general use, not specific to Debian, preferably in electronic form?
> >
> >You might be looking for autoconf/automake (although it's a bit rusty,
> >and quite a few people loathe it, it's one working current standard we
> >have).
> 
> I'm not sure why people don't like the autotools. They generally work very 
> well.
> The makefiles they make are even able to re-run the autotools to update 
> itself when needed!
> They generally work well.
> 
> I know of only three problem areas:
> 1. User error. This is when the tools don't work correctly to do something 
> that is possible, because
>    the user is doing it incorreectly.
> 2. Doing things that are just not supported. Sometimes people will try to 
> do certain things that the tools
>    were never intednded to be able to do. It should surprise nobody when 
> there is trouble. Sometimes the
>    autotools are blamed for causing problems with unsupported features that 
> are actually due to something
>    else like GNU gettext.
> 3. Version differences: This is a legitamate gripe. The autotools don't 
> work nearly as wel as they could when developers
>  are using different versions. However, I see no way to easilly fix this.
> 
> So I must ask why do people dislike the autotools?
I've never been able to figure out what they do for me.

The possible exception is in combination with gnulib, but this seems
inconsistent, since most people I've asked, who know "about" autofoo,
don't know what gnulib is.  But I'd love to understand more than I do.

There are now projects that want to use autotools because it is
"right", even if they won't actually *do* anything with the output of
the configure script, they want to be able to show their users/bosses
that "we use autotools, ergo we are portable".

Correct me if I'm wrong .. but thats now how it works.  autoconf seems
to provides a kind of a framework to facilitate portability, and
automake provides a framework for creating makefiles with common and
useful targets.  Just stuffing autotools into an existing project just
adds crud, with no benefits.

Justin



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