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The automake and libtool clash

I’ve been warned today by my friend lavish that there are packages, such as ettercap and tvtime that are failing because of a clash between libtool and older automake versions. Indeed, that is the case and I’m now on the case to resolve it.

The problem here is that libtool 2.4 requires that you use it with at least automake 1.9, so anything using 1.7 (ettercap) or 1.8 (tvtime) will fail with a number of aclocal errors. There are internal changes forcing this, it’s nothing new and nothing extraordinary. Unfortunately, autotools.eclass allows maintainers to require an older automake version. This has been extensively used up to now to avoid future-version compatibility with automake… but it’s now biting our collective asses with this.

The solution, obviously, is to make sure that ebuilds are tested against a more modern version of automake, and that is usually quite quick when using 1.8 or later, older versions might be more of a problem; turns out that I suggested to start working on this back in June 2009 — magic? ESP? Or simple knowing my tools by now?

I’m now going to work through the tree to take care of these issues, since they are quite important, but also relatively easy to fix. Plus they require autotools expertise and I’m positive that at last half the involved maintainers would be asking me to fix them anyway.

Now, the question is why didn’t my tinderbox catch this beforetime? The answer is easy: *it is not running*… between the problems and the gold f-up – and few to nobody interested in helping me – I haven’t ran the tinderbox for the past two weeks.

And yet this is the exact kind of breakage it is supposed to find. So please consider how much work I’ve been pouring in to protect us all from this stuff happening, and don’t blame me if I actually come asking for help from time to time to pay for the hardware — there are requests for specific CPU and memory hardware to upgrade the workstation on the page I listed above, if you feel like contributing directly at running it; I should add soon a request for two Caviar Black drives where most builds happen (the two Samsung SpinPoint I have start to report relocated sectors, they are at the end of their life here), or two RE4 for the operating system/work data (which is now filled to its limits).

Edit: since the system locked-up during the build, likely caused by the HDDs failing, I had to order the new ones… at a moment where I’m €1550 short to pay taxes, I had to spend another €190 for the new disks. Can you tell now why I’d wish that at least the rest of the developers would help me reducing the overhead of tinderbox by at least doing some due diligence in their packages, rather than complain if I ask for help to pay the bills&hardware of the tinderbox? — No, having the Foundation reimburse me of the expenses is not going to help me any further since I’d have to pay extra taxes over that.

Anyway, for now I think I’ll be limiting the tinderbox to two cores out of the eight I have available, and keep running it in the background, hopefully it will not cause the rest of my system (which is needed for my “daily” job — I say “daily” because I actually spend evenings and nights working on it) to hang or perform too badly.

Anyway, 6am, I haven’t slept, and I still have a number of things to do…

Comments 3
  1. Is there such a big difference with makefiles made for one version of autotools that it just won’t work on the newer ones? I’ve never written makefiles in autotools, so I don’t know that much about it.How hard would it be to have one version of autotools, and make things work with that, instead of having multiple versions all the time? The package maintainers could test it and fix up the makefile where needed. I’ve looked at makefiles before, but I’ve never really noticed the difference in versions. What should I look for in the makefiles to see the difference?Thanks,Jon

  2. Mostly it’s not entirely difficult; sometimes you have to adapt the syntax, because the tools became stricter; so for instance you might have to call @AM_PROG_CC_C_O@ to make sure that the same file compiled with different set of flags is generated twice.Older automake allows for very silly stuff though, like 1.7, so you can check out the ettercap patch to see the kind of changes that it required to build fine with automake 1.11.

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