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From Tom Tromey <tro...@creche.cygnus.com>
Subject Re: Configur{e,ation} changes
Date Mon, 09 Sep 1996 15:59:36 GMT
>>>>> "Jim" == Jim Jagielski <jim@jaguNET.com> writes:

Jim> As far as true autoconfs are concerned, has _anyone_ seen a truly
Jim> automatic, reliable autoconf? Perl's works, but it asks
Jim> questions. Sendmail/named requires that you specify the
Jim> OS. Others require you to create or edit configuration
Jim> files. Even the GNU stuff needs tweaking unless you are happy
Jim> with their defaults, and if you aren't they make changing them
Jim> painful.

Let's be clear: "Autoconf" is a specific package, put out by the FSF
(ftp://prep.ai.mit.edu/pub/gnu/autoconf-2.10.tar.gz).  Referring to
all automatic configuration systems as "autoconfs" is potentially
confusing.

I've done a fair amount of hacking with both Metaconfig (Perl's
Configure generator) and autoconf (the GNU one).  I like the GNU one
better; Perl-style Configure scripts are way too chatty.  Also, the
GNU tool has the superior documentation.

Anyway, I don't really understand your complaint against
Autoconf-generated configure scripts -- but I would like to.  Which
defaults would you want to tweak?  How is it hard?  I suspect that
I've been using configure scripts too long, so I don't remember
whatever I might once have hated...

Jim> In any case, I don't think that Apache will ever allow for that
Jim> sort of "press start" configuration and compiling. It's too
Jim> complex and does too much. Look at all the other packages out
Jim> there; the more complex the _less_ they use some sort of
Jim> autoconf. Rather, they have defaults/configs in sep files or in
Jim> sep directories. As it is know, Apache is one of the simpler
Jim> one's to compile.  Look at innd! Ack!

There are two reasons that the more complex autoconf-using packages
(say, gdb and Emacs, either of which is probably an order of magnitude
more complex than Apache) don't fully use autoconf (that is, they use
host-type-specific config files).

One reason is historical; both Emacs and gdb had their own
configuration systems before Autoconf existed.  This reason is slowly
being phased out (at least by the gdb maintainers; I don't know about
Emacs).

The other is that there are some things that you simply can't guess.
For instance guessing the object/debug format for a particular host
(particularly when cross-compiling!) is difficult.

In any case, there *are* complex packages which use Autoconf.  Eg
Guile, Kerberos V5, TeX, expect (expect's configure.in is more than
twice as long as Apache's -- the package itself is not very complex,
but its configuration requirements are)

Anyway, Apache can have a "press start" configuration and build!  I
have an autoconfiscated, feature-testing Apache sitting right here.
It builds fine on all the machines I've tried (only 8 or 9, I'll
confess).  And once I move the module selection from compile time to
runtime (eg an "AddModule" directive), it really will be just
"./configure; make check install" to configure, build, check, and
install Apache (yes, our work includes the beginnings of a test suite.
I hope to make our most recent effort (based on 1.1.1) available
soon).

Tom
-- 
tromey@cygnus.com                 Member, League for Programming Freedom

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