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Release Digest: GNU, December 11, 2003

Dec 12, 2003, 05:00 (0 Talkback[s])


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GNU Automake 1.8

We're pleased to announce the release of Automake 1.8.

Automake is a tool for automatically generating `Makefile.in's suitable for use with Autoconf, compliant with the GNU Makefile standards, and portable to various make implementations.

This release contains many bug fixes and improvements. The NEWS entry is appended. Thanks to all people who have reported bugs, contributed code, suggested enhancements, or answered user questions on the mailing lists.

You can find the new release here:


Soon it will also appear on the sources and GNU mirrors which are listed here:


Finally, here are the MD5 checksums:

0a83fd4a2a32dc966b83ca3be86f884b automake-1.8.tar.bz2
d1001db5ab96be087817e7b7b4ba3621 automake-1.8.tar.gz

Please report bugs by mail to <bug-automake@gnu.org>, or (preferred) at http://sources.redhat.com/cgi-bin/gnatsweb.pl?database=automake

New in 1.8:

  • Meta-News
    • The NEWS file is more verbose.
  • Requirements
    • Autoconf 2.58 or greater is required.
  • New features
    • Default source file names in the absence of a _SOURCES declaration are made by removing any target extension before appending `.c', so to make the libtool module `foo.la' from `foo.c', you only need to do this:
              lib_LTLIBRARIES = foo.la
              foo_la_LDFLAGS  = -module

      For backward compatibility, foo_la.c will be used instead of foo.c if this file exists or is the explicit target of a rule. However -Wobsolete will warn about this deprecated naming.

    • AR's `cru' flags are now set in a global ARFLAGS variable instead of being hard-coded in each $(AR) invocation, so they can be substituted from configure.ac. This has been requested by people dealing with non-POSIX ar implementations.
    • New warning option: -Woverride. This will warn about any user target or variable definitions which override Automake definitions.
    • Texinfo rules back up and restore info files when makeinfo fails.
    • Texinfo rules now support the `html' target. Running this requires Texinfo 4.0 or greater.

      `html' is a new recursive target, so if your package mixes hand-crafted `Makefile.in's with Automake-generated `Makefile.in's, you should adjust the former to support (or ignore) this target so that `make html' recurses successfully. If you had a custom `html' rule in your `Makefile.am', it's better to rename it as `html-local', otherwise your rule will override Automake's new rule (you can check that by running `automake -Woverride') and that will stop the recursion to subdirectories.

      Last but not least, this `html' rule is declared PHONY, even when overridden. Fortunately, it appears that few packages use a non-PHONY `html' rule.

    • Any file which is m4_included from configure.ac will appear as a configure and Makefile.in dependency, and will be automatically distributed.
    • The rules for rebuilding Makefiles and Makefile.ins will now rebuild all Makefiles and all Makefile.ins at once when one of configure's dependencies has changed. This is considerably faster than previous implementations, where config.status and automake were run separately in each directory (this still happens when you change a Makefile.am locally, without touching configure.ac or friends). Doing this also solves a longstanding issue: these rebuild rules failed to work when adding new directories to the tree, forcing you to run automake manually.
    • For similar reasons, the rules to rebuild configure, config.status, and aclocal.m4 are now defined in all directories. Note that if you were using the CONFIG_STATUS_DEPENDENCIES and CONFIGURE_DEPENDENCIES (formerly undocumented) variables, you should better define them in all directories. This is easily done using an AC_SUBST (make sure you prefix these dependencies with $(top_srcdir) since this variable will appear at different levels of the build tree).
    • aclocal will now use `m4_include' instead of copying local m4 files into aclocal.m4. (Local m4 files are those you ship with your project, other files will be copied as usual.)

      Because m4_included files are automatically distributed, it means for most projects there is no point in EXTRA_DISTing the list of m4 files which are used. (You can probably get rid of m4/Makefile.am if you had one.)

    • aclocal will avoid touching aclocal.m4 when possible, so that Autom4te's cache isn't needlessly invalidated. This behavior can be switched off with the new `--force' option.
    • aclocal now uses Autoconf's --trace to detect macros which are actually used and will no longer include unused macros simply because they where mentioned. This was often the case for macros called conditionally.
    • New options no-dist and no-dist-gzip.
    • compile, depcomp, elisp-comp, install-sh, mdate-sh, mkinstalldirs, py-compile, and ylwrap, now all understand --version and --help.
    • Automake will now recognize AC_CONFIG_LINKS so far as removing created links as part of the distclean target and including source files in distributions.
    • AM_PATH_PYTHON now supports ACTION-IF-FOUND and ACTION-IF-NOT-FOUND argument. The latter can be used to override the default behavior (which is to abort).
    • Automake will exit with $? = 63 on version mismatch. (So does Autoconf 2.58) missing knows this, and in this case it will emulate the tools as if they were absent. Because older versions of Automake and Autoconf did not use this exit code, this change will only be useful in projects generated with future versions of these tools.
    • When using AC_CONFIG_FILES with multiple input files, Automake generates the first ".in" input file for which a ".am" exists. (Former versions would try to use only the first input file.)
    • lisp_DATA is now allowed. If you are using the empty ELCFILES idiom to disable byte-compilation of lisp_LISP files, it is recommended that you switch to using lisp_DATA. Note that this is not strictly equivalent: lisp_DATA will install elisp files even if emacs is not installed, while *_LISP do not install anything unless emacs is found.
    • Makefiles will prefer `mkdir -p' over mkinstalldirs if it is available. This selection is achieved through the Makefile variable $(mkdir_p) that is set by AM_INIT_AUTOMAKE to either `mkdir -m 0755 -p --', `$(mkinstalldirs) -m 0755', or `$(install_sh) -m 0755 -d'.
  • Obsolete features
    • Because `mkdir -p' is available on most platforms, and we can use `install-sh -d' when it is not, the use of the mkinstalldirs script is being phased out. `automake --add-missing' no longer installs it, and if you remove mkinstalldirs from your package, automake will define $(mkinstalldirs) as an alias for $(mkdir_p).

      Gettext 1.12.1 still requires mkinstalldirs. Fortunately gettextize and autopoint will install it when needed. Automake will continue to define the $(mkinstalldirs) and to distribute mkinstalldirs when this script is in the source tree.

    • AM_PROG_CC_STDC is now empty. The content of this macro was merged in AC_PROG_CC. If your code uses $am_cvprogcc_stdc, you should adjust it to use $ac_cvprogcc_stdc instead. (This renaming should be safe, even if you have to support several, versions of Automake, because AC_PROG_CC defines this variable since Autoconf 2.54.)
    • Some users where using the undocumented ACLOCAL_M4_SOURCES variable to override the aclocal.m4 dependencies computed (inaccurately) by older versions of Automake. Because Automake now tracks configure's m4 dependencies accurately (see m4_include above), the use of ACLOCAL_M4_SOURCES should be considered obsolete and will be flagged as such when running `automake -Wobsolete'.
  • Bug fixes
    • Defining programs conditionally using Automake conditionals no longer leads to a combinatorial explosion. The following construct used to be troublesome when used with dozens of conditions.
            bin_PROGRAMS = a
            if COND1
              bin_PROGRAMS += a1
            if COND2
              bin_PROGRAMS += a2
            if COND3
              bin_PROGRAMS += a3

      Likewise for _SOURCES, _LDADD, and _LIBADD variables.

    • Due to implementation constraints, previous versions of Automake proscribed multiple conditional definitions of some variables like bin_PROGRAMS:
            if COND1
              bin_PROGRAMS = a1
            if COND2
              bin_PROGRAMS = a2
      All _PROGRAMS, _LDADD, and _LIBADD variables were affected. This restriction has been lifted, and these variables now support multiple conditional definitions as do other variables.
    • Cleanup the definitions of $(distdir) and $(top_distdir). $(top_distdir) now points to the root of the distribution directory created during `make dist', as it did in Automake 1.4, not to the root of the build tree as it did in intervening versions. Furthermore these two variables are now only defined in the top level Makefile, and passed to sub-directories when running `make dist'.
    • The --no-force option now correctly checks the Makefile.in's dependencies before deciding not to update it.
    • Do not assume that make files are called Makefile in cleaning rules.
    • Update .info files in the source tree, not in the build tree. This is what the GNU Coding Standard recommend. Only Automake 1.7.x used to update these files in the build tree (previous versions did it in the source tree too), and it caused several problems, varying from mere annoyance to portability issues.
    • COPYING, COPYING.LIB, and COPYING.LESSER are no longer overwritten when --add-missing and --force-missing are used. For backward compatibility --add-missing will continue to install COPYING (in `gnu' strictness) when none of these three files exist, but this use is deprecated: you should better choose a license yourself and install it once for all in your source tree (and in your code management system).
    • Fix ylwrap so that it does not overwrite header files that haven't changed, as the inline rule already does.
    • User-defined rules override automake-defined rules for the same targets, even when rules do not have commands. This is not new (and was documented), however some of the automake-generated rules have escaped this principle in former Automake versions. Rules for the following targets are affected by this fix:

      clean, clean-am, dist-all, distclean, distclean-am, dvi, dvi-am, info, info-am, install-data-am, install-exec-am, install-info, install-info-am, install-man, installcheck-am, maintainer-clean, maintainer-clean-am, mostlyclean, mostlyclean-am, pdf, pdf-am, ps, ps-am, uninstall-am, uninstall-info, uninstall-man

      Practically it means that an attempt to supplement the dependencies of some target, as in

      clean: my-clean-rule

      will now silently override the automake definition of the rule for this target. Running `automake -Woverride' will diagnose all such overriding definitions.

      It should be noted that almost all these targets support a *-local variant that is meant to supplement the automake-defined rule (See node `Extending' in the manual). The above rule should be rewritten as

      clean-local: my-clean-rule

      These *-local targets have been documented since at least Automake 1.2, so you should not fear the change if you have to support multiple automake versions.

  • Miscellaneous
    • The Automake manual is now distributed under the terms of the GNU FDL.
    • Targets dist-gzip, dist-bzip2, dist-tarZ, dist-zip are always defined.
    • core dumps are no longer removed by the cleaning rules. There are at least three reasons for this:
      1. These files should not be created by any build step, so their removal do not fit any of the cleaning rules. Actually, they may be precious to the developer.
      2. If such file is created during a build, then it's clearly a bug Automake should not hide. Not removing the file will cause `make distcheck' to complain about its presence.
      3. Operating systems have different naming conventions for core dump files. A core file on one system might be a completely legitimate data file on another system.
    • RUNTESTFLAGS, CTAGSFLAGS, ETAGSFLAGS, JAVACFLAGS are no longer defined by Automake. This means that any definition in the environment will be used, unless overridden in the Makefile.am or on the command line. The old behavior, where these variables were defined empty in each Makefile, can be obtained by AC_SUBSTing or AC_ARG_VARing each variable from configure.ac.
    • CONFIGURE_DEPENDENCIES and CONFIG_STATUS_DEPENDENCIES are now documented. (The is not a new feature, these variables have been there since at least Automake 1.4.)