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Re: Extensions to M4sh

From: Nate Bargmann
Subject: Re: Extensions to M4sh
Date: Wed, 4 May 2022 08:36:18 -0500

* On 2022 04 May 07:09 -0500, Michael Orlitzky wrote:
> The trade-off you get for writing m4 is that the build system produced
> by autotools doesn't require you to have autotools installed, and
> instead uses only a portable subset of standard system tools. As a
> result, end users can never encounter an error message that says "your
> autotools is too old!" Similarly, autotools will never require you to
> upgrade your system copy of (say) python before it will run. Which
> would be especially annoying if python could only be built with the
> very same autotools that would not run. IIRC that situation has
> happened before with some of CMake's dependencies.


Last year on a project I have been involved in for 20+ years this issue
was raised again.  Some contributors asked that the project be converted
to CMake with the argument that doing so would assist them for various
reasons.  After some discussion I pointed out the facts above and as the
developer that handles releases I would not be satisfied with CMake
unless and until I could release a source tarball that did not require
the end user have CMake installed, just like the Autotools as I have no
desire to deal with CMake versioning issues.  At that point the thread
went silent and some time later I asked for an update and to be pointed
to a repository where the CMake development was taking place.  There was
no response.

IME CMake is not a panacea.  I looked at it years back when it was much
less mature and was beating my head against the Autotools, but I did not
find CMake to make the build system any easier to work with.  Then I set
to work actually learning and working with the Autotools and fixed a lot
of project build issues in the process.  I also noted in that thread
that I was not willing to put myself through that sort of pain again and
that the contributors that wanted this change would need to step up as
the maintainers, perhaps another reason things have been quiet on that

For my use case, all that is needed is to ensure that modern versions of
C/C++ are supported by the Autotools.

- Nate

"The optimist proclaims that we live in the best of all
possible worlds.  The pessimist fears this is true."
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