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Maintainer friendly mode for autotools projects

From: Ivan Levashew
Subject: Maintainer friendly mode for autotools projects
Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 00:59:58 +0600
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; U; Intel Mac OS X; ru; rv: Gecko/20081209 Thunderbird/ ThunderBrowse/ Mnenhy/

Autotools are by default in an user friendly mode (I don't know how to name it better).

User friendly mode assumes that an user compiles and installs a software just for himself.

As a rule of thumb, what's friendly to end users, is fatal to maintainers. Or, better say, friendliness doesn't stack well. There should be exactly one layer of friendliness: the topmost one.

Generally, I'd like build system and compiler to be as humble as possible. Don't run tests on my platform, don't look for libraries and headers in my /usr directory. If something is not specified by means of command line or environment variables, it doesn't exist. The only exception is libraries/headers provided by compiler (which is specified on command line anyway). OS headers should be taken from SDKs and never from my system.

It really annoys me that so many accidents can happen! CocoAspell installs its library into /usr/local/lib, and my programs accidentally are being linked against it! I want to be in "cross compile" mode even if it's not the case. That would the best service for me, because my OS can easily happen to be better than end user's one.

The problem is that ./configure scripts either measure my OS or guess values (not always correct) or abort configuration. How can I control this process? I'd like ./configure to retrieve values from a knowledge base. In abscense of such kb, there should be an option to generate all the measurement scripts so that I could send them to testers. Also, there must be an option to populate KB out of measurement results. Whether the feature is supported everywhere, nowhere or its support varies. Is there autowiki?

Most of the tutorials spot the light on user friendly mode, which isn't very helpful for me. Pieces of essential (for me) information are scattered through the darkest corners of documentation, but I think there should be lots of people like me demanding reliable maintainer environment. Would you be so kind to point me on where to look for information?

P. S. I normally read and post through GMANE. CCing me will trigger challenge-responce on bluebottle. Don't CC me.

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