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Re: questions about AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR

From: Ralf Wildenhues
Subject: Re: questions about AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR
Date: Tue, 12 Sep 2006 19:32:37 +0200
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.13 (2006-08-11)

* Stefan Seefeld wrote on Tue, Sep 12, 2006 at 06:45:51PM CEST:
> Ralf Wildenhues wrote:
> > 
> > The idea is that your final package tarball should contain what's
> > needed to recreate the generated configure script.
> It is one thing for a source package to contain M4 code, but another
> to require users to have autotools installed.

I don't understand.  There should not be a requirement to have autotools
installed for the user.

> > The aclocal from Automake-1.9b works this way, in that you can instruct
> > aclocal to install macro files (from, say /usr/share/aclocal-x.y) into
> > the directory named by AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR, and the libtoolize from CVS
> > Libtool recognizes the AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR as well and puts its macro
> > files there.
> I'm not sure why you mention automake. I'm not using automake, or am I ?

Oh, you mentioned "aclocal, autoconf, etc.", and from that I inferred
that you would use automake as well.  Sorry for reading more into that
than was actually there.  Some of my further explanations in the last
message were based on this assumption.

> (Is aclocal part of automake ? If so, why ?)

Yes, it is.  I do not know why that was originally done this way, but I
think it is too late to change this now.  (The long-term plan is to get
rid of aclocal anyway; but this is not the time to discuss this.)

Anyway, this is only tangential to the issue at hand.

> I don't want users of the source package to have to touch any of this.


> I want them to call 'configure' (which used to be a self-contained
> shell script only requiring /bin/sh) and 'make', but nothing else.


> >> (The reason I'm asking is that, while the machine where
> >> I run autoconf does have said directory, but the machine
> >> where I actually configure and build the package doesn't,
> >> and so configure bails out.)
> > 
> > What's the reason for
> > - specifying AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR, but
> > - not shipping the macros in the tarball?
> We may be using it wrong (the documentation isn't all that clear,
> I have to admit), but as I said, I don't want users to be required
> to have the autotools installed, and thus shipping them M4 macros
> doesn't seem to make much sense.

OK.  As far as I can see, the error should go away if
- you create a (possibly empty) directory, or
- remove the AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR call in (provided that
  you added it there, rather than it was pulled in from some other
  macro you use), and rerun aclocal and autoconf.


I guess Autoconf needs to either update the documentation to mention
that AC_CONFIG_MACRO_DIR is not supposed for packages that do not
intend to ship macro files, or remove the test for the existence of
the directory.  Not sure as to which fits better, as I'm not sure
whether the former would be intended.


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