GNU-Friends.org: Interview with David MacKenzie (the future of autoconf)
Feb 14, 2002, 19:17 (0 Talkback[s])
During the years, some people has suggested
that autoconf should be scrapped and a new system should be
created. What do you think of that? Can you imagine any other
configuration tool being as popular as autoconf and do you have any
ideas as to what it might look like?
Ten years ago, many Unix users only had 9600 bps dialup
connections to Usenet and UUCP. There were no free PC operating
systems or POSIX compliant systems or package management systems.
Developers had to write to a least common denominator system
installation that was bare bones. If you required all these
external packages in order to compile and install your little
package, it took too long to get and people got frustrated and
Nowadays, everyone's on the Internet and many have broadband,
everyone has Perl 5 and many have Python, there are automatic
dependency following update systems, and everyone has POSIX and
Standard C and C++. Recent Autoconf releases have stubbed out some
of the tests for old limitations that you might as well assume
don't apply anymore, to make it run faster.
I and others have learned a lot since then about configuration
management and software design. I found Bertrand Meyer's book
Object Oriented Software Construction to be the most eye-opening
thing I've read in the last 5 years. It's a pity that SmallEiffel
doesn't have a rich library like CPANbuilt up; if it did, I'd
probably be using it.