Autotools Mythbuster: updated guide

While preparing for my first vacation ever next week, I’ve been trying to write up more content on my guide so that at least my fellow developers in LScube have a references of what I’ve been doing, and Gentoo developers as well, as lately I’ve been asked quite a few interesting questions (and not just them).

So, first of all, thanks to David (user99) who cleaned up the introduction chapter, and to Gilles (eva) who gave me the new stylesheet (so that it doesn’t look as rough as it did before, it also narrows the lines so that it reads better. It might not be the final style, but it really is an improvement now.

As for my changes, I’ve been trying to change slightly the whole take of the guide, trying to write up complete working examples for the readers to use, that are listed in the main page. At the same time, I’m trying to cover the most important, or less known, topics, with particular attention to what people asked me, or what I’ve been using on projects which is not very well known. The list of topics added include:

  • using AC_CHECK_HEADERS to get one out of a prioritised list of headers;
  • using AC_ARG_* macros (enable, with and environment variables);
  • using AS_HELP_STRING to document the arguments;
  • using AC_ARG_WITH to set up automatic but not automagic dependencies;
  • using automake with non-recursive makefiles (including some of the catches);
  • improved automake silent-rules documentation;
  • using external macro files with autoconf (work in progress, for now only autoconf with no extras is documented).

I’m considering the idea of merging in some of the For A Paralllel World articles, at least those dealing with automake, to complete the documentation. The alternative would be to document all these kind of problems and writing something along the lines of “A Distributor’s Bible”… the problem with that idea is that almost surely somebody will complain if I use the name “Bible” (warning: I’m not a Catholic, I’m an atheist!)… and if I am to call it “The Sacred Book of Distributors” I’ll just be having to dig up all the possible mocks and puns over various religions, ‘cause I’ll be almost surely writing the ten commandments for upstream projects (“Thou shall not ignore flags”, “Thou shall version your packages”), and that also will enter a politically correctness problem.

Oh well, remember that I do accept gifts (and I tried not putting there the stuff that I’ll be buying next week… I already told my friends not to let me enter too many shops, but I’ll be following them and that’s not going to be a totally safe tour anyway…).