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Re: Forbidden strings

From: Pavel Roskin
Subject: Re: Forbidden strings
Date: Tue, 7 Nov 2000 10:35:06 -0500 (EST)


I'm sorry that I couldn't participate in the discussion earlier, but I
hope it's still not too late.

The purpose of forbidden strings is to provide a certain class of names to
the user that are guaranteed to be expanded by autoconf.

Why do we do it? Whe want to protect the user from overquoting. When I was
suggesting to protect from underquoting nobody seemed to be enthusiastic
about it although it is underquoting that results in truly weird problems.

What the forbidden strings are trying to prevent is invalid "configure".
There are better ways to check it. Automake provides the "distcheck"
target that ensures that the package can be compiled. This includes
running "configure".

Another approach is to use "$SHELL -n" to check validity of "configure".
Of all shells I have installed on my Linux box only zsh couldn't detect
"AC_FOO(bar)" as a syntax error. I believe it's acceptable to ask
maintainers to have bash somewhere on the system (I don't even say as
/bin/sh or $SHELL) if they want to catch their errors earlier.

Another question is the namespace. I agree that Autoconf shouldn't be so
greedy. One name per package should be the right way. I.e., AC for
autoconf, AM for automake, LT for libtool. It should be easy to rename
A[HSTU]_* to something else before 2.50. It will be harder to do it later.

Pavel Roskin

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