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From Ben Laurie <>
Subject Re: conditional HTML
Date Tue, 16 Apr 1996 18:24:11 GMT
> Ben> Yeah, but it doesn't stick. At least when I edit Configuration it
> Ben> stays put.  It isn't a question of which options are available,
> Ben> its a question of figuring out which ones you need. I might add
> Ben> that "configure --help" actually doesn't help much in my
> Ben> experience.
> Once configure is done, the results are kept in config.status.  You
> can force a re-check using the same parameters like this:
> 	./config.status --recheck
> Of course, if you want to change just one thing, this doesn't work
> very well.  I usually do "head config.status", and cut and paste the
> parts I like -- the actual configure command is put in comments at the
> top of config.status for convenience.

Wouldn't it be neater to have configure reuse (some of) the flags unless told
not to?

> Ben> Installation directories are a particularly good example. There
> Ben> is no "right" way to do it, and reproducing the same different
> Ben> way as last time can only be described as painful.
> I'm not sure what you're getting at here... if you mean that you pass
> all the --foo-prefix args to fit things into a more complex setup,
> then yeah, it is hard to reproduce, unless you know the config.status
> trick.
> I recommend just using --prefix to set the base path, and letting
> configure derive everything else.  YMMV, of course.
                                     ^^^^ can't parse this ;-)

Well, that's OK if you like the tree they've chosen to use; it irritates me to
end up with paths like /usr/local/emacs/man/emacs/...

> Anyway, I don't see anything in Configuration about installation
> directories.  Except for the modules, and maybe the NIS/DNS thing,
> everything in Configuration should be automatically handled by
> configure.

Well, as I said earlier, we don't deal with installation.

> Ben> I'm not saying that configure isn't a wonderful thing ... in many
> Ben> ways it is, just that points like these detract from the overall
> Ben> effect. Perhaps a combination of the two mechanisms is the way
> Ben> forward?
> I guess you could always write a short ``Configure'' script that just
> runs configure with all the options you like.  This could even be
> distributed.  I personally don't think it gains much, but then I spend
> lots of time hacking configure scripts, so maybe I'm just used to
> them...

I've spend more time than I care to contemplate hacking them (without the
benefit of autoconf!) - in my experience its very hard work.

> Actually, part of the Configuration script has been put into the
> Modules file, since that seemed like the only way to handle the
> modules.  It would be possible to put more into Modules, as long as
> the defaults are set "correctly" -- I really want/need the ability to
> run configure and do the build without doing any editing at all.  I do
> all my builds in the background on many machines at once.  These days,
> for Apache, I'm only doing 3 archs, but in the future I expect there
> to be many more.
> I'm not trying to be argumentative here or anything.  If I'm missing
> something, please point it out...

Since I work on a platform that is typically not supported by the latest and
greatest versions of anything I guess I see configure at its worst. And that is
pretty bad - I can't think of a single large program where I haven't had to
hack configure (and usually the source, too) and some of them have taken many
hours of work.

The bottom line is that I like the idea of configure but experience has taught
me that configure doesn't actually implement that idea, so I wonder what is the
real advantage (as opposed to the intellectual advantage) of configure over the
current hard-wired approach?

I actually think that the neatest approach would be to find ways to autodetect
the platform (rather than attempting to detect its features) and use that to
invoke the appropriate hardwired setup.

As supporting evidence for this view, I'd note that I've never seen a question
on how to configure Apache for any platform.



> Tom
> -- 
>                 Member, League for Programming Freedom

Ben Laurie                  Phone: +44 (181) 994 6435
Freelance Consultant and    Fax:   +44 (181) 994 6472
Technical Director          Email:
A.L. Digital Ltd,           URL:
London, England.

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