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autoreconf --install vs. gnulib-tool

From: Eric Blake
Subject: autoreconf --install vs. gnulib-tool
Date: Mon, 19 Jun 2006 14:21:07 +0000 (UTC)
User-agent: Loom/3.14 (http://gmane.org/)

In preparing m4-1.4.4b for release, I noticed that using the released version 
of automake 1.9.6 installed quite a number of out-of-date files, all of which 
could be found more up-to-date within gnulib, thanks to the cron jobs that keep 
gnulib CVS up-to-date with the various upstream sources of those files.  For 
example, m4 is GPL, but m4-1.4.4b/COPYING installed by automake is missing the 
formatting touchups present in gnulib/doc/COPYING; likewise, the automake-
installed version of config.guess was much older than gnulib/build-
aux/config.guess.  m4's Makefile.maint had a list of some of these files, and 
their various upstream repositories, and a wget rule that tried to update them, 
but that list was incomplete and depended on wget, even though I already had a 
fresh CVS checkout of gnulib with those same files already on my disk.

I was wondering if it would be worth teaching gnulib-tool about all the files 
that `autoreconf --install' normally installs, and then updating those files 
from gnulib's repository as part of `gnulib-tool --update'.  That way, ad hoc 
rules in various Makefile.maint that try to wget the various files from various 
upstream sources, could then be simplified to just updating the gnulib CVS 
checkout and getting the latest version of the various files directly from 
gnulib.  And by having gnulib track the list of files, there is less 
maintainence burden on keeping lists up-to-date within Makefile.maint of a 
particular project.

Eric Blake

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