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Removing the dusty cruft

Together with the work on finding problems with the code in the tinderbox, I’m also trying my best to reduce the amount of old ebuilds in the tree, by asking the treecleaners to remove the old cruft that nobody cares about, and by requesting stable for the stuff that has been fixed but never went stable.

One thing that I noticed today is that we still have in use old versions of autoconf and automake; I actually noticed this when one particular ebuild failed because of a mistake between automake 1.10 and autoconf 2.1. While we keep the old 2.1 version around, upstream hasn’t supported it for quite a long time, and indeed the newer versions of automake don’t work with that at all. So to be able to get rid of the old automake versions we also have to get rid of the old autoconf version first, otherwise it won’t be usable.

As of today there were three ebuilds that requested autoconf 2.1 explicitly; one had a simple one-liner fix, the other two, well, that’s a different story: one is gnat-gcc which I didn’t even try to fix, but I will soon enough, and the other is enigmail. The problem with enigmail is that the Mozilla buildsystem (based on autoconf, but not fully autotoolized, and still used, almost identically, by Firefox and the other modern Mozilla products) relies on some old behaviour that the latest 2.6x versions don’t have with diversions. Finding what is making it fail is not trivial, or at least it didn’t seem trivial when I looked into it this afternoon, so I’ll have to resume looking at it at a time I have more time.

This does not stop, unfortunately, at fixing the two ebuilds that still declare usage of autoconf 2.1. There almost surely are more packages that still rely on the older version of autotools; just they don’t declare it. This is an unfortunately widespread problem of older ebuilds that didn’t depend on autotools properly. This is probably something that I should be looking at with the next run of tinderbox, if I can gt the two ebuilds removed or fixed.

After this is done, I might actually consider starting to look at packages using older automake versions, so to clean them up a bit. This is probably another big project, which goes beyond the original scope of the tinderbox. And something that I don’t have time for right in this moment (but will be kept in my radar for quite a while).

Oh well. Time to go to sleep, and it’s 3am tonight too…

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