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kbuild: Problem with latest GNU make rc

From: psmith
Subject: kbuild: Problem with latest GNU make rc
Date: Wed, 1 Mar 2006 10:46:25 -0500

Hi all.  I've set Reply-To: to the address@hidden list; I'm hoping we
can keep the discussion there since I don't subscribe to kbuild-devel.

I'm working on getting the next release of GNU make, 3.81, out the door
(amazing!)  The weekend before last I released 3.81rc1 for people to
test.  A day or two ago, Art Haas <address@hidden> emailed me that he
was having problems using kbuild with this version.  The previous
version, 3.81beta4, works fine.

The symptoms are that much of the kernel was rebuilding over gain
every time he ran make, even after he'd just done a top-down build.

I pulled the 2.6.15 kernel and sure enough, I see the same behavior.  I
delved into the kbuild infrastructure and I found the problem.

The kbuild system uses a trick to force rebuilds if the command line
changes for a given target (normally make only rebuilds if the target is
out of date--some versions of make, like Solaris make, have a
.KEEP_STATE feature but GNU make does not support this).  Here's a
stripped-down example of what kbuild does:


%.o : %.c FORCE
        $(if_changed_rule ...)

if_changed_rule = $(if $(strip $? $(call arg-check, $(cmd_$(1)), $(cmd_$@)) ),\
            @set -e; \

The FORCE prerequisite causes ALL .o targets that match this rule to be
considered by make to be out of date (because FORCE is always
out-of-date and it's a prerequisite of the .o).

The trick is in the if_changed_rule macro: it tests whether any
prerequisites have changed ($? is the changed prerequisites; it'll be
empty if none have changed) and whether the command lines have changed
(the call to arg-check).  If those values are true (non-empty) it
expands to the rule.  Otherwise it expands to nothing.

GNU make takes several shortcuts to provide efficiency in places where
it doesn't matter, and so if it sees an empty command it doesn't try to
run a shell.  In this way, kbuild gets the benefit of checking the
command line for every target without paying a price for useless shells
being invoked during the build.

However, this trick as implemented is accidentally relying on what may
be a misbehavior on GNU make's part: one that was changed in the latest
rc release.  This is causing rebuilds to happen.

In previous versions of GNU make, prerequisites that didn't exist were
not included in the $? variable.  In the new version that's been changed
(fixed?) so that all out-of-date prerequisites are included in the $?
variable, even if they don't exist.

The old behavior allowed this rule to work, because even though FORCE
was out-of-date and would normally always appear in $?, it didn't exist
as a file and this exception caused it to be left out.  So, the value of
$? was empty in the old version if the only prerequisite that was
considered out-of-date was the non-existent file FORCE.

In the new version of GNU make, the value of $? is FORCE in that
situation, so the test in if_changed_rule is always true and it always
evaluates to the compile line, and rebuilds.

Neither the GNU make manual nor the POSIX definition of make gives us
clear direction as to the correct behavior in this particular situation.
SuS says:

      The $? macro shall evaluate to the list of prerequisites that are
      newer than the current target. It shall be evaluated for both target
      and inference rules.

The GNU make manual says:

      The names of all the prerequisites that are newer than the target,
      with spaces between them.

So... is a non-existent file "newer than the target"?  This specific
situation is not addressed.  However, other versions of make (SysV make
for example) interpret a non-existent file as out-of-date and DO include
it in $?.  Given the meaning of "newer than the current target" to make
(that it causes the target to be rebuilt) and the implied meaning of $?
(a list of the prerequisites that cause the target to be rebuilt), I
feel that the new behavior is correct and the old behavior is incorrect.

So.  If the change is correct, how should we proceed?  Obviously it's
not hard to change kbuild to fix the majority of the problem; replace
the above macro with something like:

  if_changed_rule = $(if $(strip $(filter-out FORCE,$?) $(call arg-check, 
$(cmd_$(1)), $(cmd_$@)) ),\
            @set -e; \

and all will be well.  There are other, similar macros that need this
change as well.  And, there are other places where this $(filter-out
FORCE,...) is already done, so it's apparently come up before.  I attach
a patch here which makes this fix in kbuild.

The above solution is backward-compatible (will work with older versions
of GNU make), so that's nice.  But of course, current releases will still
be broken unless patched.  Is it OK to say, if you upgrade GNU make you
have to patch kbuild, unless you want to rebuild everything every time?


There is another slight problem: some targets have extra PHONY
prerequisites as well.  For example, here:

  .tmp_kallsyms1.o .tmp_kallsyms2.o .tmp_kallsyms3.o: %.o: %.S scripts FORCE
          $(call if_changed_dep,as_o_S)

from the root Makefile.  Now, "scripts" here is PHONY, so it will always
appear in $? in the new version of make as well.  Unless we want to add
all those PHONY target to the $(filter-out ...) test in the if_* macros
we're going to get some rebuild: this causes the final link to be done
again even if nothing has changed.  That's probably not a big deal since
most people WILL change something before they build.  Nevertheless, it's
unpleasant.  I don't know of any way, given the current features of GNU
make, to solve this problem generically (like, "remove all PHONY targets
from this list of targets").

Well, I'll stop typing now :-).

Please send me your thoughts.

--- scripts/Kbuild.include-dist 2006-01-02 22:21:10.000000000 -0500
+++ scripts/Kbuild.include      2006-03-01 10:42:30.398316278 -0500
@@ -73,8 +73,8 @@
 # function to only execute the passed command if necessary
 # >'< substitution is for echo to work, >$< substitution to preserve $ when 
reloading .cmd file
 # note: when using inline perl scripts [perl -e '...$$t=1;...'] in $(cmd_xxx) 
double $$ your perl vars
-if_changed = $(if $(strip $? $(call arg-check, $(cmd_$(1)), $(cmd_$@)) ), \
+if_changed = $(if $(strip $(filter-out FORCE,$?) $(call arg-check, 
$(cmd_$(1)), $(cmd_$@)) ), \
        @set -e; \
        $(echo-cmd) \
        $(cmd_$(1)); \
@@ -82,7 +82,7 @@
 # execute the command and also postprocess generated .d dependencies
 # file
-if_changed_dep = $(if $(strip $? $(filter-out FORCE $(wildcard $^),$^)\
+if_changed_dep = $(if $(strip $(filter-out FORCE,$?) $(filter-out FORCE 
$(wildcard $^),$^)\
        $(call arg-check, $(cmd_$(1)), $(cmd_$@)) ),                  \
        @set -e; \
        $(echo-cmd) \
@@ -94,6 +94,6 @@
 # Usage: $(call if_changed_rule,foo)
 # will check if $(cmd_foo) changed, or any of the prequisites changed,
 # and if so will execute $(rule_foo)
-if_changed_rule = $(if $(strip $? $(call arg-check, $(cmd_$(1)), $(cmd_$@)) ),\
+if_changed_rule = $(if $(strip $(filter-out FORCE,$?) $(call arg-check, 
$(cmd_$(1)), $(cmd_$@)) ),\
                        @set -e; \
 Paul D. Smith <address@hidden>          Find some GNU make tips at:
 http://www.gnu.org                      http://make.paulandlesley.org
 "Please remain calm...I may be mad, but I am a professional." --Mad Scientist

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