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Re: Bug in "distcheck" target?

From: Pavel Roskin
Subject: Re: Bug in "distcheck" target?
Date: Thu, 19 Sep 2002 22:59:52 -0400 (EDT)


It has occured to me that the complex "distcheck" procedure doesn't have
to be integrated into Automake.  In fact, "make distcheck" works with the
tarball and treats it as a black box.

Automake knows a lot about most of the files and can generate rules that
work with those files.  But the whole idea of "make distcheck" it to make
sure that the whole package behaves properly, including the custom rules
not generated by Automake.

I believe that a separate program for testing packages would be a much
more flexible solution.  You would be able to get a package from the net
and check if that package behaves good, i.e. that it doesn't try to run
autoconf or automake, respects DESTDIR and prefix, has all standard
targets, passes "make check" and so on.

You could use a new distcheck script on old packages.  You would not have
to run automake on it, and you would test the package as is, not what it
would become after upgrading to the latest and greatest automake.

The script could even produce a report about properties of the package
(i.e. whether prefix and DESTDIR affect all files, passed make targets,
failed make targets etc).

I'm not saying that "make distcheck" support should be dropped from
Automake any time soon, but having a standalone script would reduce the
need in making "make distcheck" more and more complex, and especially the
need in introducing any new Automake options affecting strictness of "make

At some point, "make distcheck" would simply call "make dist" and run the 
standalone "distcheck" script with predefined DISTCHECK_FLAGS.

Pavel Roskin

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