If you look at the
gawk source in the Git
repository, you will notice that it includes files that are automatically
generated by GNU infrastructure tools, such as Makefile.in from
Automake and even configure from Autoconf.
This is different from many Free Software projects that do not store the derived files, because that keeps the repository less cluttered, and it is easier to see the substantive changes when comparing versions and trying to understand what changed between commits.
However, there are several reasons why the
likes to have everything in the repository.
First, because it is then easy to reproduce any given version completely, without relying upon the availability of (older, likely obsolete, and maybe even impossible to find) other tools.
As an extreme example, if you ever even think about trying to compile,
oh, say, the V7
awk, you will discover that not only do you
have to bootstrap the V7
yacc to do so, but you also need the
lex. And the latter is pretty much impossible to bring up
on a modern GNU/Linux system.115
(Or, let’s say
gawk 1.2 required
in 1989 and that there was no awkgram.c file in the repository. Is
there a guarantee that we could find that
bison version? Or that
it would build?)
If the repository has all the generated files, then it’s easy to just check them out and build. (Or easier, depending upon how far back we go.)
And that brings us to the second (and stronger) reason why all the files
really need to be in Git. It boils down to who do you cater
gawk developer(s), or the user who just wants to check
out a version and try it out?
wants it to be possible for any interested
awk user in the
world to just clone the repository, check out the branch of interest and
build it. Without their having to have the correct version(s) of the
That is the point of the bootstrap.sh file. It touches the
various other files in the right order such that
# The canonical incantation for building GNU software: ./bootstrap.sh && ./configure && make
will just work.
This is extremely important for the
gawk maintainer would argue that it’s also
important for the
gawk developers. When he tried to check out
xgawk branch117 to build it, he
couldn’t. (No ltmain.sh file, and he had no idea how to create it,
and that was not the only problem.)
He felt extremely frustrated. With respect to that branch,
the maintainer is no different than Jane User who wants to try to build
master from the repository.
Thus, the maintainer thinks that it’s not just important, but critical, that for any given branch, the above incantation just works.
A third reason to have all the files is that without them, using ‘git
bisect’ to try to find the commit that introduced a bug is exceedingly
difficult. The maintainer tried to do that on another project that
requires running bootstrapping scripts just to create
and so on; it was really painful. When the repository is self-contained,
git bisect in it is very easy.
What are some of the consequences and/or actions to take?
bison, and GNU
Installing from source is quite easy. It’s how the maintainer worked for years
(and still works).
He had /usr/local/bin at the front of his
PATH and just did:
wget https://ftp.gnu.org/gnu/package/package-x.y.z.tar.gz tar -xpzvf package-x.y.z.tar.gz cd package-x.y.z ./configure && make && make check make install # as root
NOTE: Because of the ‘https://’ URL, you may have to supply the --no-check-certificate option to
wgetto download the file.
Most of the above was originally written by the maintainer to other
gawk developers. It raised the objection from one of
the developers “… that anybody pulling down the source from
Git is not an end user.”
However, this is not true. There are “power
who can build
gawk (using the magic incantation shown previously)
but who can’t program in C. Thus, the major branches should be
kept buildable all the time.
It was then suggested that there be a
cron job to create
nightly tarballs of “the source.” Here, the problem is that there
are source trees, corresponding to the various branches! So,
nightly tarballs aren’t the answer, especially as the repository can go
for weeks without significant change being introduced.
Fortunately, the Git server can meet this need. For any given branch named branchname, use:
to retrieve a snapshot of the given branch.
We tried. It was painful.
There is one GNU program that is (in our opinion) severely difficult to bootstrap from the Git repository. For example, on the author’s old (but still working) PowerPC Macintosh with Mac OS X 10.5, it was necessary to bootstrap a ton of software, starting with Git itself, in order to try to work with the latest code. It’s not pleasant, and especially on older systems, it’s a big waste of time.
Starting with the latest tarball was no picnic either. The maintainers
had dropped .gz and .bz2 files and only distribute
.tar.xz files. It was necessary to bootstrap
A branch (since removed) created by one of the other developers that did not include the generated files.