[debhelper-devel] `dh --with autotools_dev` and `dh_update_autotools_config`

Niels Thykier niels at thykier.net
Tue Aug 1 19:09:00 UTC 2017

Lukas Schwaighofer:
> Hi autotools-dev maintainer, debhelper developers and dh-autoreconf
> maintainer,
> I was a bit confused with the current situation regarding autoreconf,
> updating config.{sub,guess} files and the autotools-dev package.  I'd
> like to help improving the situation for newcomers like me, but first I
> want to make sure I actually understand it correctly.  (The
> dh-autoreconf package isn't directly involved, except for the man page.)


Thanks for engaging us and trying to improve the situation. :)

> As far as I can tell, the `dh_update_autotools_config` command from
> debhelper (>= 9.20160115) always regenerates config.{sub,guess}.

Correct.  For a package that uses the dh-sequencer, the
dh_update_autotools_config will be called and update config.{sub,guess}
by default.

> Therefore, with a recent enough version of debhelper, the dh module and
> debhelper commands supplied by the autotools-dev package are no longer
> necessary.

Their functionality is now provided by the default debhelper sequence.

> Is that correct, or are there still any situations where
> `dh --with autotools_dev` is required?

I am not aware of any situation where "dh $@ --with autotools-dev"
provide any benefits over the (now) built-in functionality of debhelper.

Except for various internal implementation details, they provide the
same functionality.

> And is there consensus
> that `dh_update_autotools_config` should supersede the debhelper/dh
> related functionality provided by autotools-dev?

None at the moment.  I have recently sent an email to the Henrique about
this topic, but I have yet to hear from him.  That said, I designed the
dh_update_autotools_config tool debhelper could provide the same
functionality out of the box.

I have offered to manage the deprecation and eventual removal of the
autotools-dev related debhelper tools + sequence if we were to go down
that route.  However, as mentioned, I have not heard from Henrique, so I
do not know if that is the way we will go.

>> [...] Or at least update the
> dh_autotools-dev_*, dh_update_autotools_config and dh-autoreconf man
> pages to explain the current situation correctly?  If you want I can
> open bug reports with suggestions for the man pages.
> Thanks & regards
> Lukas
> [...]
I am happy to improve the manpage of dh_update_autotools_config if it
would help clarify the situation.  Was something along the lines of

This tool is an alternative to dh_autotools-dev_updateconfig and can
completely replace it.

what you were missing in the dh_update_autotools_config manpage?


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