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Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Build System links/ recommendations

From: Andrew Suffield
Subject: Re: [Gnu-arch-users] Build System links/ recommendations
Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2004 22:14:12 +0100
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.6+20040818i

On Sun, Aug 29, 2004 at 06:41:39AM +1000, Zenaan Harkness wrote:
> Since I only came on the list about 8000 messages ago (which actually
> isn't that long really), and since James recently mentioned about
> "getting ones build system right", is there a link that people get
> pointed at to describe "the right build system"?

You might as well ask for "the right program". Constructing a build
system, *even using tools to simplify the process*, is a programming
problem that requires every bit as much skill and effort as
constructing a program.

99% of lousy build systems are that way because they didn't receive
either. Ones based on auto* are compounded by the problem that the
author probably hasn't read the manual for the tools he is using; most
autoconf scripts are an exercise in cargo-cult programming.

> Fastdep (now in Debian sid), pointed me to the paper Recursive Make
> Considered Harmful:

I hate this paper. It's snake oil.

Approximately two pages of this 14-page paper are given over to the
subject referred to by the title. No evidence is provided to back up
the claims it makes on this subject - and when you think about it,
they're fairly outlandish and improbable claims.

A couple more pages are given over to making excuses for the problems
which this introduces, while avoiding any serious consideration of

The rest of the paper is a set of collected tips on how to write
makefiles that aren't completely idiotically broken. Many of them have
parallels in the GNU make manual and the automake manual. Anybody who
didn't already know this stuff should not have been writing makefiles
in the first place.

This is a good example of why unpublished papers that have not been
refereed are crap. The author didn't set out to find out which way of
writing makefiles is best. He set out to prove that his way was
best. It's just bad research.

  .''`.  ** Debian GNU/Linux ** | Andrew Suffield
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