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From "Ralf S. Engelschall" <>
Subject Re: Apache 2000, err Apache 2.0 gets real
Date Sun, 01 Aug 1999 09:27:27 GMT

In article <> you wrote:

> [...]
> After that, set up autoconf as the one and only configuration tool.
> I happen to like automake as well, but I'd at least like to figure out
> why Ralf isn't using it first.  Same with libtool.
> [...]

Autoconf, libtool and shtool are fine and I use them all the time. The reasons
why I avoid Automake are partly technical reasons and partly aesthetical
reasons. Technically Automake conflicted often with my opinion on how _clean_
and non-redundant Makefiles should look and behave. The aesthetical reasons
are mainly related to the fact that Automake-generated Makefiles I often have
to consider "bloatware". There are 1001 generated targets one never needs and
which just cause confusion and problems. 

It's correct that Automake is a benefit to deal with _very large_ source
trees. And there it's great. There it's clear - already from the software
engineering point of view - that one has to use a tool in order to avoid
reinvention of the wheel in every subdir. But there are easier and smaller
tools available which do the job better then Automake, IMHO. At least they
generate cleaner Makefiles which look like hand-made and can be still be
understood and better customized. For instance I often used my own very-old
SMake (Skeleton Make) tool or some similar approaches.

So, for me autoconf, libtool and shtool are essential tools which are really
acceptable to use (for Autoconf one just has to like M4 and Shell programming
a little bit to use it; libtool and shtool one can treat as a black-box where
one has not to understand anything in order to use them). But Automake is
something for very large source trees like those of KDE, X11, etc.  where the
focus is more on better and easier maintainability than on cleaness and
possible understanding. And for projects like Apache where only 10 to 20
subdirs exists, I prefer clean Makefiles reduced to the minimum and customized
contents than bloated ones. Sure, one can also customize Automake, but then it
gets very ugly again.
                                       Ralf S. Engelschall

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