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Re: Get rid of libtool? [was Re: Makefile problems]

From: Tom Tromey
Subject: Re: Get rid of libtool? [was Re: Makefile problems]
Date: 15 Jul 2002 17:26:25 -0600
User-agent: Gnus/5.09 (Gnus v5.9.0) Emacs/21.2

>>>>> "Nathanael" == Nathanael Nerode <address@hidden> writes:

Nathanael> Automake is quite good at generating dependencies for
Nathanael> things which behave 'normally': C files compiled to O files
Nathanael> with the same name, & so on.  In fact it appears to do so
Nathanael> via ordinary suffix rules.

It appears to, but in fact it doesn't, and can't.  I wish it could!
Anyway, problems in this area are why you see requirements that
automake know certain things statically, all the EXTRA_ stuff, etc.

Nathanael> What it does do is to demand extra work for the maintainer
Nathanael> in order to tell Automake that theses *are* unusual cases.
Nathanael> This isn't positive for dependency handling.

I think it would help my understanding if you gave a concrete
example.  My perspective is that usually automake doesn't make things
any worse, since you can always write your own rules and add stuff,
just like with make.

Nathanael> I don't think it's wise to tell developers that a program
Nathanael> will 'take care' of their dependencies, and unfortunately
Nathanael> that's the message being sent out by automake.

By what mechanism is this message sent?  Perhaps there is text in the
manual we could change?  These are quasi-rhetorical questions, since I
don't think we actually send that message at all.  But, of course,
there is always some distance between what one writes (or projects)
and what one thinks one writes (or projects); we can address this if
it refers to something concrete.

Nathanael> The message sent by automake, sadly, is "Make is a bad
Nathanael> tool.  Make is hard to use."

I've probably said that, though I don't have a reference.  It doesn't
really capture my current understanding though.  `make' is an adequate
tool for its purpose.  Unfortunately its limitations show through; the
world has changed from underneath it.

Nathanael> Which *would* be fine, except that automake documentation
Nathanael> tells you that you don't need to write it by hand, libtool
Nathanael> documentation is less than would be desirable on using
Nathanael> libtool without automake (the information's actually mostly
Nathanael> there, in fact, but its use is actively discouraged), and
Nathanael> automake-generated Makefiles are often nearly
Nathanael> undecipherable.

These days we document LINK and COMPILE.  Perhaps the docs need to be


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