Double versions installed

Jeremy Chadwick freebsd at
Sun Sep 19 21:34:29 UTC 2010

On Sun, Sep 19, 2010 at 10:33:23PM +0200, Jos Chrispijn wrote:
>  On 19-9-2010 19:01, Erik Trulsson wrote:
> >That is perfectly normal. Some programs require one specific version
> >of autoconf, while others require another version, so one easily ends
> >up with more than one version installed.  They can live side-by-side so
> >having more than one version installed is not a problem.
> I see. But out of a programmers point of view, I would never stick
> to my old versions but update to newer ones because I need to catch
> up with other new program versions that need mine. In this way a
> programmer is forced to keep maintaining his older version allthough
> he moves forward with the rest of the crowd.

You've never worked with GNU autotools, have you?  :-)

It's fairly well-established that they break in different ways every
time there's a new release, or certain macros are deprecated/changed in
an incompatible way.  This is not hearsay, this is fact.

Therefore, if a piece of third-party software requires autoconf or
automake to build its configure scripts or Makefiles, it's up to the
port maintainer of said third-party software to make sure that the
correct autoconf/automake version is selected.

Sometimes it's even worse than that: the configure scripts that come
with the third-party software may have been built on the developers'
machine using a buggy version of autoconf.  In this case, sometimes the
only solution is for the port to include (as a dependency) a version of
autoconf that builds a working/proper configure script.  I realise this
sounds crazy ("how can someone release software that's broken out of the
box like that?"), but it's absolutely true.

Simply put: the "latest and greatest" concept does not apply to the
autotools, and what you see in the FreeBSD ports system is
validation/proof of that.

| Jeremy Chadwick                                   jdc at |
| Parodius Networking              |
| UNIX Systems Administrator                  Mountain View, CA, USA |
| Making life hard for others since 1977.              PGP: 4BD6C0CB |

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