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Re: Could automake-generated Makefiles required GNU make? (was: Re: [gnu

From: Stefano Lattarini
Subject: Re: Could automake-generated Makefiles required GNU make? (was: Re: [gnu-prog-discuss] portability)
Date: Tue, 22 Nov 2011 20:33:57 +0100
User-agent: KMail/1.13.7 (Linux/2.6.30-2-686; KDE/4.6.5; i686; ; )

On Tuesday 22 November 2011, Nick Bowler wrote:
> On 2011-11-22 17:46 +0100, Stefano Lattarini wrote:
> > See also:
> >   <>
> Yes, it is sad that many package maintainers fail to properly test their
> build systems.
Consider that some maintainers cannot; not everyone can afford to have
access to all the *BSD, as well as Solaris, AIX, Windows (for Cygwin) ...

> By the same argument, "GNU-make-requiring automake" is
> never going to really support GNU make versions older then 3.82 because
> maintainers won't bother to test with older versions.
While you raise a partly valid point, consider that installing older
versions of GNU make is pretty easy.  Not so with other makes
implementation (with some exceptions; for example, FreeBSD make
is packaged for Debian).

> Regardless, I don't think this is a good reason to force non-portability
> on those who take the time to test other make implementations.
I don't plan to "force" this on them out of the blue.  As I've said,
automake 1.x is here to stay for various years at least (and more if
automake2 / automire doesn't take off).

> > > But when a user building a free software package for the first time in
> > > their life runs "./configure && make", and receives a spew of cryptic
> > > messages about syntax errors or worse, I suspect that their first
> > > reaction is not going to be "Whoops!  I should have run gmake instead."
> > > More likely it will involve much more colourful language, and they will
> > > be left with a bitter impression.
> >
> > OK.  So let's design the new automake to prevent this :-)  My above
> > proposal of "automatic re-execution with GNU make" might help here.
> > WDYT?
> It's certainly an option.  If we go this route, I think we need, at the
> very least:
>  * Autoconf tests to find a working GNU make.
Agreed.  That should be pretty easy BTW, and could be crammed into

>  * Put GNU make logic in GNUmakefile, so that other makes do not try to
>    parse it, and GNU make users don't have to care.

>  * Put stubs in the Makefile for all common targets that will then
>    re-invoke GNU make.

>  * Allow package maintainers to easily define new stubs for their custom
>    targets

>    (bonus points: make this automatic).
+0.5 ("if it doesn't turn out to be too difficult")

> [SNIP]


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