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Re: Annoyingly cautious make rules

From: Paul Eggert
Subject: Re: Annoyingly cautious make rules
Date: Fri, 02 Dec 2011 12:21:54 -0800
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux i686; rv:8.0) Gecko/20111124 Thunderbird/8.0

On 12/02/2011 10:39 AM, Glenn Morris wrote:
> I suggest that those of you who find configure too slow and who know what
> you are doing disable maintainer mode in your personal copies

Even if it is a good idea to enable these problematic dependencies
by default, surely there's no question that "maintainer mode" (whatever
we decide it to be) should not be the default.  Maintainer mode should
cater to experts, not to casual and unskilled builders, and it's
pretty confusing to say (as we do now) that you should disable maintainer
mode only if you're an expert and you know what you're doing.

In other words, if we stick with the 2011-03-20 change to enable
the dependencies by default, --enable-maintainer-mode should
*disable* those dependencies.

> I believe the default build rules ought to be what is most correct, not
> what is mostly correct but fast, since the latter can lead to confusing
> errors for people who are not familiar with all the details.

We agree about this, but the disagreement is over whether these problematic
dependencies are more "correct".  In an environment where Autoconf isn't
installed, or is the wrong version (or similarly for m4, Automake, etc.),
these problematic dependencies are more likely to cause problems than to
cure them.  For example, there are plausible use cases where a naive builder 
files around and then gets stuck because an unnecessary autoconf invocation
fails.  So there's a good case to be made that it's more "correct"
(for the casual, unskilled builder) to omit these dependencies, as we did
before 2011-03-20.

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