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while compiling Perl ...

I tried to recompile Perl today because I'm trying to understand why
latex2html bombs out on a call to dbmopen.  This is the first time
I've compiled a file from the debian/source tree, and realized
I don't know this:
Should one expect that the files in the source directory have all been
edited so that a simple 'make' (or in the case of Perl, 'Configure') with
all the defaults is exactly what should be done to reproduce what's in
the .deb package, or do the diffs have to be applied (and if so, exactly
how does one go about doing that?).

On the subject of Perl, can anyone interpret this warning message that
comes from the Perl Configure program:
*** WHOA THERE!!! ***
    The recommended value for $d_dbm_open on this machine was "undef"!
    Keep the recommended value? [y] 
Does this explain why latex2html fails (i.e., goes into some kind of loop
and returns no error message, even inside an eval) on dbmopen calls?
Is there a fix?

Answers to any of these questions would be very much appreciated.
Susan Kleinmann

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