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Re: Could automake-generated Makefiles required GNU make?

From: Stefano Lattarini
Subject: Re: Could automake-generated Makefiles required GNU make?
Date: Thu, 24 Nov 2011 16:00:37 +0100
User-agent: KMail/1.13.7 (Linux/2.6.30-2-686; KDE/4.6.5; i686; ; )

So, to summarize the main points so far:

 * From RMS: it would be a good idea to start requiring GNU make in
   just one or two GNU packages, and see how many users complain, and
   how loudly.  My follow-up on this: we could do this experiment by
   being even more conservative, and have one or few GNU packages
   offer distribution tarballs requiring GNU make by default, while
   continuing (for a while at least) to also offer distribution
   tarballs that only require portable make.  Ideally, the download
   links for such "compatibility tarballs" should not be accessible
   from the package's web pages directly, but only referenced in the
   INSTALL file of the "new-style tarballs".
   Now we shouldfind one or two package maintainers willing to
   submit themselves to this experiment ...

 * Paolo Bonzini pointed that a backward-incompatible "Automake 2"
   might propagate the past bad reputation of the autotools w.r.t.
   backward-incompatibility.  So the new project I'm proposing should
   be a fork of automake, with a repository and name of its own.
   I propose "Automire" as the name, to give credit to the Quagmire
   attempt, while retaining the `am' namespace.  So I guess I should
   open a new thread to discuss the detail of such forking... any
   idea of what would be the better GNU list(s) to do so?

 * Nick Bowler pointed out that my ideas of "Unix newbies" was quite
   wrong in practice, as many of them won't be GNU/Linux newbies, and
   might instead be exposed to other Unix variants in corporate or
   educational environments.  So the default "make" program they'll
   use might likely not be GNU make, whose existence they might even
   ignore.  My follow-up on this was a proposal to create some layer
   that would allow common "make TARGET" commands to automatically
   re-invoke themselves with GNU make (maybe with a proper warning)
   when possible.
   So, as Nick suggested, automire should make it easy to:
     - have autoconf tests to find a working GNU make;
     - 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).

 * Paul Smith suggested that it would be worthwhile to have an explicit
   list of capabilities that automire will require from GNU make.  I
   agreee with him.  That list could be written later, though, once
   automire makes some real use of advanced GNU make features.

 * Through a sub-discussion between me and Ralf Corsepius, I came to
   conclude that having automire taking advantage of more GNU make
   features could help in making GNU make itself better, by finding
   (and hopefully fixing) lurking bugs and/or usability problems.


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