Getting around make clean or make distclean aclocal failures (Shallow Thoughts)

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Fri, 27 Nov 2015

Getting around make clean or make distclean aclocal failures

Keeping up with source trees for open source projects, it often happens that you pull the latest source, type make, and get an error like this (edited for brevity):

$ make
cd . && /bin/sh ./missing --run aclocal-1.14
missing: line 52: aclocal-1.14: command not found
WARNING: aclocal-1.14' is missing on your system. You should only need it if you modified acinclude.m4' or configure.ac'. You might want to install the Automake' and Perl' packages. Grab them from any GNU archive site.

What's happening is that make is set up to run ./autogen.sh (similar to running ./configure except it does some other stuff tailored to people who build from the most current source tree) automatically if anything has changed in the tree. But if the version of aclocal has changed since the last time you ran autogen.sh or configure, then running configure with the same arguments won't work.

Often, running a make distclean, to clean out all local configuration in your tree and start from scratch, will fix the problem. A simpler make clean might even be enough. But when you try it, you get the same aclocal error.

Whoops! make clean runs make, which triggers the rule that configure has to run before make, which fails.

It would be nice if the make rules were smart enough to notice this and not require configure or autogen if the make target is something simple like clean or distclean. Alas, in most projects, they aren't.

But it turns out that even if you can't run autogen.sh with your usual arguments -- e.g. ./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr/local/gimp-git -- running ./autogen.sh by itself with no extra arguments will often fix the problem.

This happens to me often enough with the GIMP source tree that I made a shell alias for it:

alias distclean="./autogen.sh && ./configure && make clean"

Saving your configure arguments

Of course, this wipes out any arguments you've previously passed to autogen and configure. So assuming this succeeds, your very next action should be to run autogen again with the arguments you actually want to use, e.g.:

./autogen.sh --prefix=/usr/local/gimp-git

Before you ran the distclean, you could get those arguments by looking at the first few lines of config.log. But after you've run distclean, config.log is gone -- what if you forgot to save the arguments first? Or what if you just forget that you need to re-run autogen.sh again after your distclean?

To guard against that, I wrote a somewhat more complicated shell function to use instead of the simple alias I listed above.

The first trick is to get the arguments you previously passed to configure. You can parse them out of config.log:

$ egrep '^  \$ ./configure' config.log
  $ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local/gimp-git --enable-foo --disable-bar

Adding a bit of sed to strip off the beginning of the command, you could save the previously used arguments like this:

    args=$(egrep '^  \$ ./configure' config.log | sed 's_^  \$ ./configure __')

(There's a better place for getting those arguments, config.status -- but parsing them from there is a bit more complicated, so I'll follow up with a separate article on that, chock-full of zsh goodness.)

So here's the distclean shell function, written for zsh:

distclean() {
    setopt localoptions errreturn

    args=$(egrep '^  \$ ./configure' config.log | sed 's_^  \$ ./configure __')
    echo "Saved args:" $args
    ./autogen.sh
    ./configure
    make clean

    echo
    echo "==========================="
    echo "Running ./autogen.sh $args"
    sleep 3
    ./autogen.sh $args
}

The setopt localoptions errreturn at the beginning is a zsh-ism that tells the shell to exit if there's an error. You don't want to forge ahead and run configure and make clean if your autogen.sh didn't work right. errreturn does much the same thing as the && between the commands in the simpler shell alias above, but with cleaner syntax.

If you're using bash, you could string all the commands on one line instead, with && between them, something like this: ./autogen.sh && ./configure && make clean && ./autogen.sh $args Or perhaps some bash user will tell me of a better way.

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[ 13:33 Nov 27, 2015    More programming | permalink to this entry | comments ]
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