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GNU autotools generated files

20.02.2013 by tg@
Tags: debian rant

On Planet Debian, Vincent Bernat wrote:

The drawback of this approach is that if you rebuild configure from the released tarball, you don’t have the git tree and the version will be a date. Just don’t do that.

Excuse me‽

This is totally inacceptable. Regenerating files like aclocal.m4 and (for automake), configure (for autoconf), and the likes is one of the absolute duties of a software package. Things will break sooner or later if people do not do that. Additionally, generated files must be remakable from the distfile, so do not break this!

May I suggest, constructively, an alternative? (People – rightfully, I must admit – complain I’m “just” ranting too much.)
When making a release from git, write the “git describe” output into a file. Then, use that file instead of trying to run the git executable if .git/. is not a directory (“test -d .git/.”). Do not call git, because, in packages, it’s either not installed or/and also undesired.

Couldn’t comment on your blog, but felt strongly enough about this I took the effort of writing a full post of my own.

(But thanks for the book recommendation.)

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