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2.2.11 Preparing Distributions

We have already mentioned make dist. This target collects all your source files and the necessary parts of the build system to create a tarball named package-version.tar.gz.

Another, more useful command is make distcheck. The distcheck target constructs package-version.tar.gz just as well as dist, but it additionally ensures most of the use cases presented so far work:

All of these actions are performed in a temporary directory, so that no root privileges are required. Please note that the exact location and the exact structure of such a subdirectory (where the extracted sources are placed, how the temporary build and install directories are named and how deeply they are nested, etc.) is to be considered an implementation detail, which can change at any time; so do not rely on it.

Releasing a package that fails make distcheck means that one of the scenarios we presented will not work and some users will be disappointed. Therefore it is a good practice to release a package only after a successful make distcheck. This of course does not imply that the package will be flawless, but at least it will prevent some of the embarrassing errors you may find in packages released by people who have never heard about distcheck (like DESTDIR not working because of a typo, or a distributed file being erased by make clean, or even VPATH builds not working).

See Creating amhello, to recreate amhello-1.0.tar.gz using make distcheck. See Checking the Distribution, for more information about distcheck.

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