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Re: Extensions to M4sh

From: Carlos O'Donell
Subject: Re: Extensions to M4sh
Date: Wed, 4 May 2022 09:02:27 -0400
User-agent: Mozilla/5.0 (X11; Linux x86_64; rv:91.0) Gecko/20100101 Thunderbird/91.8.0

On 5/4/22 06:00, Demi Marie Obenour wrote:
> On 5/3/22 16:35, Zack Weinberg wrote:
>> On Mon, May 2, 2022, at 2:30 AM, Paul Eggert wrote:
>>> On 5/1/22 19:06, Alex Ameen wrote:
>>>> Whoever is most actively working on M4sh would be an incredibly
>>>> useful contact for me, so if "that's you" let me know.
>>> To be honest right now I think "that's you" is the correct
>>> answer. As in, you're the one.
>> I concur.  Right now it seems like nobody is actively working on
>> anything in Autoconf, so if you've got patches that makes you the
>> most active contributor.
> Honestly, I feel like the autotools are dying.

I agree with Michael's position here, that "mature" is not the same as "dying"
but developers sometimes see a lack of feature growth as the latter.

What is in question is the health of the community and having developers 
to do the work that is required to create and test releases.
> They solve a lot of problems people usually don’t have (support for
> ancient proprietary Unixes, workarounds for broken systems) and don’t
> solve problems people *do* have (reproducible builds, support for
> Windows, dependency management, using a decent language for build 
> scripts, IDE integration).  And it is virtually impossible to
> improve this situation, because it is a direct consequence of the
> autotools working by generating shell scripts and makefiles.

The tooling continues to solve all the difference between building software on
one distribution on another distribution. Linux distributions can be wildly 
in the versions and features they provide. So while we don't have lots of 
Unices anymore, we have SUSE, RHEL, Arch, Gentoo, Fedora, Debian, Ubuntu etc. 
are all slightly different.

Your other request are valid.

> If I use Meson or CMake, I get solutions to all of these problems, 
> except perhaps IDE integration.  And that is far more important to
> me than being able to support Ultrix or IRIX.

I have not seen Meson and CMake handle reproducible builds at all. Ask the Guix
community how much work they need to do to make things reproducible (or any 
> A lot of projects have switched from the autotools to something
> else, often CMake or Meson.  Very few have made the reverse switch.
> If the autotools are to remain competitive, something needs to
> change.


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