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Re: Common to use Autotools just to avoid Makefile work even if noporta

From: Dr. David Kirkby
Subject: Re: Common to use Autotools just to avoid Makefile work even if noportability concerns???
Date: Thu, 17 Apr 2003 14:40:06 +0100

address@hidden wrote:
> I need to confess a dirty little secret.
> I don't really worry about running my program
> on anything other than Red Hat Linux (for now)/

Given Redhat seem to be the Microsoft of the Linux World, I think
there is a lot to be said for developing code that works  Linux
systems other than Redhat. I have a few old machines here and have
installed Debian, as that really is a free Linux. There is no
commercial organisation making huge $$$ from selling the software. I
believe some of Redhat's tools (i.e. installation programs) are not
open source. Okay, they are slick and nice, but they are not GPL'ed. 

Have you actually tried downloading ISO images from Redhat's web site
- if not I can tell you the download speed is very slow. This only
leads me to think they make it that way, so you get fed up and go out
and buy their CDs. If everyone keeps using Redhat, they will become a
monopoly. It would not seem too different from Microsoft then. So
that's what I have against Redhat. 

As for portability, it is a lot easier to build in portability from
the start, rather than thinking about it later. 

If, like myself, you are a scientist who as used a lot of scientific
software, you will know the time that gets spent in porting code from
one platform to another. The quicker will avoid this the better. 

Adding to ones source code:

#include <stdlib.h>

does not take too much effort, but will making porting a lot easier if
someone decides they want it. Likewise using functions that are known
to be platform specific is not such a great idea. At least keep it in
mind when writing the code, even if you don't go to great lengths to
test it on other systems. Typing in a function name to google with say
Solaris, Tru64, OpenBSD and see if it would appear to exist. If it
does not, at least put a few minutes thought into doing it a different

I take a different view. I develop code here on a quad processor Sun
workstation running Solaris 9, but test it also on other systems. I
have 5 other old Suns running Debian 3.0 Linux , OpenBSD 3.2, NetBSD
1.6, Redhat Linux 6.2, Solaris 2.5 as well as a PC running Rehat Linux
7.2.  Soon hope to add to that list a Dec Alpha running Tru64 UNIX.
Testing does not add a great deal of effort as I use this simple
script I developed to ssh to a remote machine, do configure ; make
(adding options to configure or make as necessary). So testing on any
machine I want to, either local or remote, presents no problem. I tend
not do develop GUI programs, which I admit makes portability and
testing easier. But portable GUI API's do exist (e.g. WxWindows for

Dr. David Kirkby,
Senior Research Fellow,
Department of Medical Physics,
University College London,
11-20 Capper St, London, WC1E 6JA.
Tel: 020 7679 6408 Fax: 020 7679 6269
Internal telephone: ext 46408
e-mail address@hidden

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