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If you are a native english speaker, please correct my pidgin english.

Proposal for inclusion in a common guideline for the software build process in Ubuntu and derivatives


Get rid of many hidden bugs. Enhance software maintainability. Let's rewrite all makefiles of the whole distro!
Summary of Recursive Make Considered Harmful:

Release Note


Right now (I'm using Ubuntu release "Gutsy"), I suspect many packages are build in a "recursive make"-style. This includes some very essential packages, e.g. APT, DPKG, and probably many others.
Once you know "recursive make" is the root of many bugs, you start wondering why your system doesn't crash twice as much.

Use Cases




The first two lines of the makefile of APT - this tool is essential for the consistency of the whole system - let me conclude APT is build in a "recursive make"-style:

# This is the top level make file for APT, it recurses to each lower
# level make file and runs it with the proper target

At the time of this writing, I'm having trouble with broken package dependencies. APT is great if its database is clean, but once things go wrong you're off. Noone wants to remove hundreds of essential packages without the proposal of installing an upgraded version of these packages. Something is fundamentaly broken, not necessarily in APT itself, but in the whole distro. After reading the abovementioned paper and catch a glimpse of the makefiles of APT and DPKG, I suspect (among other reasons) one root of evil is the use of "recursive make". I.e. not only APT's input, the package DB, might be wrong because maintainers occasionally slip false package dependencies in it. I suspect APT/DPKG is wrong in that they are build the wrong way, and therefore can not function correct (i.e. identify errornous input as such).


You can have subsections that better describe specific parts of the issue. FIXME

Research for automation

Search for a tool that automaticaly rewrites makefiles.


This section should describe a plan of action (the "how") to implement the changes discussed. Could include subsections like: FIXME


* If available, try to use automation tools that rewite makefiles. Probably such a tool fails, but hopefully can give hints in such a case. * Use software dependency tools to identify differences between the real ones and those expressed in the sources.

Code rewiew

Identify packages that use "recursive make". Follow the ordering of package importance given by the distro (essential/basic ones first, etc.)

UI Changes

No changes to the UI are required, except occasionally in developer build automation tools.

Code Changes

Code changes should include an overview of what needs to change, and in some cases even the specific details.




Test/Demo Plan

It's important that we are able to test new features, and demonstrate them to users. Use this section to describe a short plan that anybody can follow that demonstrates the feature is working. This can then be used during CD testing, and to show off after release.

This need not be added or completed until the specification is nearing beta.

* Change a package sources build style and see if it reveals a bug. FIME EVEN MORE

Outstanding Issues

This should highlight any issues that should be addressed in further specifications, and not problems with the specification itself; since any specification with problems cannot be approved. FIXME, TOO

BoF agenda and discussion

Use this section to take notes during the BoF; if you keep it in the approved spec, use it for summarising what was discussed and note any options that were rejected.


IdeaPool/Undecided/BuildProcess (last edited 2008-08-06 16:31:20 by localhost)