Contributed by weerd on from the all-the-world dept.
A short while ago, Marc Espie (espie@) wrote to the ports mailinglist with a short rant about autoconf. His mail gives good insights into the problems porters face when dealing with GNU software, especially those using autoconf.
Please read on for Marc's post:
Date: Mon, 8 Mar 2010 15:06:09 +0100
From: Marc Espie
Subject: autoconf and portable programs: the joke
At some point in the past, autoconf was *meant* to simplify porting programs.
These days, it's more a "use gnu-linux, or die" (no wonder bsd is dying).
I'm really, really, fed up of all these EXCUSES for configure tests
(remember, a configure test is supposed to test for a *feature*) that
gnu string with required version => okay, we work.
anything else => okay, we refuse to work.
Between a "test" for mkdir -p being thread-safe, which ends up being
--version=coreutils, a "test" for tar supporting ustar archives, which ends
up being --version for gnu-tar, and numerous other examples, I'm really
becoming fed-up with that.
This is utter complacency from the part of the guys who write these tests.
They can ask *us* if they want to support other OSes, instead of silently
going over to GNU-make/GNU-bash/GNU-tar/GNU-m4/GNU-mkdir...
Since you read this mailing-list, I assume you have at least a remote interest
I have a simple request for you: each time you run into software that does
this idiotic kind of test, please interact with the idiots upstream for
whom all the world is linux, and try to get them to replace their "joke"
of an autoconf macro with actual genuine tests that actually CHECK FOR THE
If you hadn't read Marc's post on ports yet, now you read it here, on undeadly, which again shows at least a remote interest in BSD. Therefore, Marc's request still holds. There is more available than just Linux. Writing free, open and portable software means having your code run in environments you maybe didn't even knew existed. Be it Linux, BSD, HP-UX, Solaris, or any other UNIX-like operating system. The ecosystem is pretty large, try not to assume everybody has the full GNU userland, it's good for diversity.
(Comments are closed)