Dealing with autotools

Loïc Minier lool at
Wed Apr 15 11:11:56 UTC 2009

On Wed, Apr 15, 2009, Robert Collins wrote:
> > Wasn't this heavily frowned upon in Debian for many years?
> Opinions have varied.

 And still do...

> Absolutely; not build-deping on autotools is a fundamental mistake IMO:
> it makes packages bigger (you have to carry a configure script delta),
> harder to review (generated content is in the diff).

 I find that running the autotools during build is fragile over time.
 It can break in subtle ways with new autotools versions.
   Most people don't understand autotools enough to do the right thing.
 Most packages running autotools during build will call automake,
 aclocal, autoconf in weird orders or lacking some additional commands
 which their packages need -- instead of autoreconf, which might not
 even be enough when you're using things like intltool or glib-gettext.
   Also, running autotools at runtime requires you to build-depend on all
 tools needed by the upstream maintainer instead of just the libs you
 need to build the features you care about; often people will miss some
 bdeps as a result (typically when upstream doesn't ship some m4

 In all cases, this is not black and white; I would still recommend that
 people who aren't versed in autotools just autoreconf into a patch and
 make sure that patched tree works well.

Loïc Minier

More information about the vcs-pkg-discuss mailing list