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dirstamp and other mysteries

From: Adam Spiers
Subject: dirstamp and other mysteries
Date: Mon, 28 Nov 2011 23:43:09 +0000

Hi all,

I've been tearing my hair out over this one.  I have a manual file
called doc/stow.texi.  I want my release tarball to contain
pre-generated Info, HTML and PDF versions of the manual so that end
users don't need texinfo installed.  I want `make install' to put:

  - the Info version to $(infodir)/

  - the HTML version to $(docdir)/manual.html

  - the PDF version to $(docdir)/manual.pdf

and of course I want `make distcheck' to succeed and build my

This seems to go against the automake grain, where the auto-generated
rules assume that if you have a file foo.texi, you'll want to generate
foo.html and foo.pdf.  However, I don't want that, because


is a much more self-explanatory pathname for end users than


and ditto for the PDF.

I tried *all* sorts of things, pored over the automake Info pages for
hours, and (ironically, as I was composing this mail) finally came up
with a solution which is essentially this:

    dist_doc_DATA = doc/manual.html

    doc/manual.pdf: doc/stow.pdf
            [ -d doc ] || mkdir doc # required in vpath mode
            cp $< $@

    doc/manual.html: doc/stow.texi
            -rm -f $@
            texi2html --P=$(srcdir) --output=$@ -expandinfo -menu
-monolithic -verbose $<

    EXTRA_DIST = doc/stow.pdf

It seems to do the trick, but I'd be interested in better solutions.
I guess I could have set AM_MAKEINFOHTMLFLAGS, and then copied
doc/stow.html to doc/manual.html in the same way I do it for the .pdf,
but it still seems ugly having two copies of the same file around.

During my struggles, a few questions arose:

    1. What is the point of .dirstamp?

    2. Shouldn't it be documented, at very least so users know that
       it's not supposed to be included in the distribution?  (I only
       found this out by stumbling across a comment in

    3. I experienced the same problem this guy did in 2008:

       The only workaround I could find was to use -Wno-override in :-(


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