[Mesa-dev] Lets talk about autotools

Chuck Atkins chuck.atkins at kitware.com
Thu Sep 20 15:03:30 UTC 2018

Hi Emil,

I would like to revive an idea from a few years ago:
> Drop the "auto" all-together.
> It adds a _ton_ of complexity while making the build semi-magical/not
> as deterministic.

I can certainly sympathize here.  I maintain a ton of build infrastructure
for a wide variety of projects and the whole "auto" thing is realy a pain
to deal with from both an implementation and maintenance perspective.

> The only downside is that we may need to tweak our scripts _once_ to
> list exactly what we want to build ;-)

That's be nice, but it's simply not reality.  For the past several years
I've neaded to tweak our mesa builds scripts every few releases.  I don't
think that's particularly a problem so I'm not raising it as an issue, just
that the config options are regularly evolving, which is okay, theyre not
static though.

> IIRC the Gnome people have been actively working for removing such
> autodetection in their packages.

> Distributions already explicitly specify what they want and most of
> our autodetection is effectively a bad copy of that.

The big difference vs gnome is that *most* gnome packages are consumed by
users only as system libraries and thus package maintainers are the ones
build them, so it's not a big deal to have to explicitly configure it how
you want.  Seldom will you have a miscelaneous user needing to build and
use thier own version of GNOME libs.  Mesa, on the other hand, has an
extensive set of users just like that. A substantial portion of mesa's user
base are graphics developers that have no idea what most of the mesa
options are or what they do, but just need to have a new mesa build to fix
a bug their OpenGL code is hitting.  As much as dealing with the "auto"
implementation sucks, I think it's important that the default
out-of-the-box with no arguments configuration should be sane and likely to
produce something useful, even if not optimal.

- Chuck
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