(autoconf.info)Deuteronomy


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20.5 Deuteronomy
================

A long wish list for major features had accumulated, and the effect of
several years of patching by various people had left some residual
cruft.  In April 1994, while working for Cygnus Support, I began a major
revision of Autoconf.  I added most of the features of the Cygnus
`configure' that Autoconf had lacked, largely by adapting the relevant
parts of Cygnus `configure' with the help of david zuhn and Ken
Raeburn.  These features include support for using `config.sub',
`config.guess', `--host', and `--target'; making links to files; and
running `configure' scripts in subdirectories.  Adding these features
enabled Ken to convert GNU `as', and Rob Savoye to convert DejaGNU, to
using Autoconf.

   I added more features in response to other peoples' requests.  Many
people had asked for `configure' scripts to share the results of the
checks between runs, because (particularly when configuring a large
source tree, like Cygnus does) they were frustratingly slow.  Mike
Haertel suggested adding site-specific initialization scripts.  People
distributing software that had to unpack on MS-DOS asked for a way to
override the `.in' extension on the file names, which produced file
names like `config.h.in' containing two dots.  Jim Avera did an
extensive examination of the problems with quoting in `AC_DEFINE' and
`AC_SUBST'; his insights led to significant improvements.  Richard
Stallman asked that compiler output be sent to `config.log' instead of
`/dev/null', to help people debug the Emacs `configure' script.

   I made some other changes because of my dissatisfaction with the
quality of the program.  I made the messages showing results of the
checks less ambiguous, always printing a result.  I regularized the
names of the macros and cleaned up coding style inconsistencies.  I
added some auxiliary utilities that I had developed to help convert
source code packages to use Autoconf.  With the help of Franc,ois
Pinard, I made the macros not interrupt each others' messages.  (That
feature revealed some performance bottlenecks in GNU M4, which he
hastily corrected!)  I reorganized the documentation around problems
people want to solve.  And I began a test suite, because experience had
shown that Autoconf has a pronounced tendency to regress when we change
it.

   Again, several alpha testers gave invaluable feedback, especially
Franc,ois Pinard, Jim Meyering, Karl Berry, Rob Savoye, Ken Raeburn,
and Mark Eichin.

   Finally, version 2.0 was ready.  And there was much rejoicing.  (And
I have free time again.  I think.  Yeah, right.)


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