demko.ca

<< Back to Posts

Autoconf sucks

Aleksander Demko, June, 2007

This is the most obscure, wacky ass build configuration system in existence, yet is somehow the backbone of most open source projects. That -- along with preferring C over C++, but that's another post -- is what I think provides a huge barrier to entry for many developers to contribute to open source projects, myself included.

It should not take me (a veteran Linux and C user) a full day to build glib (the gtk+ thing, not libc) from subversion source. It's like a billion steps, each failing with weird error messages that you have to google app to get resolved.

Seriously, we have:

Combine all that with something made from perl or python (please, shell + m4? let's give it up) and it should be easy to make a make-configuration building tool. I'm sure autoconf can do all kinda of magic, but the learning curve is just too steep and the easy-cases aren't easy at all (which is why many people just use pkg-config + make directly)

I'd totally be willing to help out with something like that, provided I can build the thing myself :)

ps. I also made buildboss (found here ) which works for my own specific types of projects. It's just one approach though (involving tagging the source files), which I'm unsure if I would use in future configuration management systems.

ps. decent link