WHAT: Bump minimum required versions of GNU autotools up to modern versions. I suggest the following, but could be talked down a version or two:
WHY: Stop carrying patches and workarounds for old versions.
WHERE: autogen.sh, make_dist_tarball, various Makefile.am's, configure.ac, *.m4.
WHEN: No real rush. Somewhere in 1.5.x.
TIMEOUT: Friday March 5, 2010
I was debugging a complex Automake timestamp issue yesterday and discovered that it was caused by the fact that we are patching an old version of libtool.m4. It took a little while to figure out both the problem and an acceptable workaround. During this process, I noticed that autogen.sh still carries patches to fix bugs in some *really* old versions of Libtool (e.g., 1.5.22). Hence, I am send this RFC to increase the minimum required versions.
Keep in mind:
1. This ONLY affects developers. Those who build from tarballs don't even need to have the Autotools installed.
2. Autotool patches should always be pushed upstream. We should only maintain patches for things that have been pushed upstream but have not yet been released.
3. We already have much more recent Autotools requirements for official distribution tarballs; see the chart here:
Specifically: although official tarballs require recent Autotools, we allow developers to use much older versions. Why are we still carrying around this old kruft? Does some developer out there have a requirement to use older Autotools?
If not, this RFC proposes to only allow recent versions of the Autotools to build Open MPI. I believe there's reasonable m4 these days that can make autogen/configure/whatever abort early if the versions are not new enough. This would allow us, at a minimum, to drop some of the libtool patches we're carrying. There may be some Makefile.am workarounds that are no longer necessary, too.
There's no real rush on this; if this RFC passes, we can set a concrete, fixed date some point in the future where we switch over to requiring new versions. This should give everyone plenty of time to update if you need to, etc.
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