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Re: Core-utils 7.2; building only 'su'

From: Eric Blake
Subject: Re: Core-utils 7.2; building only 'su'
Date: Tue, 14 Apr 2009 06:29:12 -0600
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[really adding autoconf and automake lists this time]

According to Alfred M. Szmidt on 4/14/2009 6:22 AM:
>    Hmmm.  Would it be worth changing autoconf to make './configure
>    --help' state something like the following:
>    | Some influential environment variables:
>    |   ...
>    |   DESTDIR    leave unset during configure; allows installation to
>    |              specify a staging area different than the final prefix
>    Perhaps even issue a warning if DESTDIR is set during configure
>    time?  Or would this proposal just cause more problems?
> I know that the wording is only a suggestion, but I see multiple
> problems.
> DESTDIR is not synonymous with prefix, it is prepended to each of the
> variables (exec_prefix, prefix, bindir, libexecdir, ...)  when they
> are used as a destination during `make install'.

Not all packages follow GNU Coding Standards, therefore, DESTDIR is not
properly supported in a surprisingly large number of packages.

> I do not think that users are confused about passing DESTDIR during
> configure time either.  DESTDIR is and has always been a automake
> variable.  Alas, the only useful place to put this information is in
> the output of --help.  Maybe something more like this would be a bit
> more suitable (not to happy about the actual wording):
> `To install FOO in a different directory for the purpose of making a
> tarball, or similar pass DESTDIR to `make install''

Maybe the shorter:

`To install FOO in a staging directory, use `make install DESTDIR=...''

> Problem with the above, is that it only works when using make, but
> maybe this is not a real problem?  If one uses AM_INIT in configure,
> then the above could pop up...

You have a point there - since autoconf cannot enforce the package's
compliance of the GNU Coding Standards in its Makefile, it would not be
good for autoconf to add this warning for the packages where DESTDIR
doesn't work properly.  But automake already does such a good job at
providing DESTDIR support (especially if the user remembered to run 'make
distcheck'), that I think it would be nice if using AM_INIT_AUTOMAKE did
make the ./configure --help mention the future effect of DESTDIR.

- --
Don't work too hard, make some time for fun as well!

Eric Blake             address@hidden
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